Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Two Tugs

Claire's third tooth in the lower row of incisors came out today, but not without help. There was already a tooth growing behind it, so its time had come, but it was clinging to life with the same ferocity that allowed it to survive an incident when she was three. This was when I was in law school, and I got a call (I think in class - can't actually remember now) from the Moss St. Center that Claire had fallen and smashed her face into the slide. I was prepared, I remember, for some blood, what I wasn't prepared for was the angle at which all of her lower teeth were sitting. Her lower jaw had slammed up and over her upper teeth, jamming all of her teeth forward and (we are now learning) breaking them off at the roots. The dentist sorta snicked them back into place as well as he could and then said "odds are they'll turn black and die, then you can come back and we'll pull them." Turns out they're feisty little chompers and have stayed around, crunching carrots, for all these years.

Now that the big teeth are coming up these scrappy bits of calcium have been jumping ship with abandon - and you can see the shears across the roots from the slide incident. (For the sake of brevity I'm skipping over the story from her Montessori school, six months later, when she got a clean bill of tooth health from the dentist on Tuesday and then smashed the same teeth in during a game of chase at recess. Oy.) And now we're to the third, the one that already has a big kid tooth behind it. It was disinclined to acquiesce to Claire's persistent wiggling, but this morning she crossed a threshold - it was pretty much just hanging out of her mouth.

So as you might suspect, tug one was me yanking a tooth out of someone's head for the first time. I can report that my daughter is crazy and that I have no tolerance for inflicting pain. She says it only hurt a little right at the end, but still. And the third tooth goes in the purple pouch, awaiting its dollar in change. Inflation, right? Poor kid can't even buy gum with less.

The second tug was the one that caught me by surprise. It was the cavalier way in which she marched into class upon arriving at school. This is a new school for her, a new experience of first grade and actual work and relating with older kids, peers, teachers, all that. It is a big kid school, requiring big kid teeth, and skin, and guts, and heart. It's been hard. But there she was, ready to launch, one tooth short but with all the confidence of someone who knows, somehow, its absence will not slow her down. Now nothing will slow her down. And there I am, standing at this other, bigger threshold, with one hand gripping a tiny, courageous tooth and one hand stretching out to this tiny, courageous girl, my role diminished, my new role unknown.

Two tugs. And all before coffee.

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