Bittersweet Tooth


March 8, 2013 by Julia

Fiona lost her very first tooth this morning. (Oh heck, I need some exclamation points here:!!!) She was in the living room, trying to pull her nightgown off her head, which she always complains/screams about, so I thought nothing of the sounds of aggravation as I packed up her preschool snack bag in the kitchen.

Finally I went over to find that her nightgown was still fully on. I was about to give up on her self-reliance lesson for the morning and rip it off and put every last item of clothing on her just to avoid the aggravation of reminding her every two seconds for the next half hour: “Put on your socks, Fiona. You still have to put your arms in the sleeves, Fiona. Your pants aren’t pulled up yet, Fiona. Yes, you can do it yourself.”

But before that happened, she pointed at her mouth and said “Ehh!! Ehh!” Then she clutched at her mouth, and I asked her if she needed to throw up. “Nooo!” she yelled. Finally she pointed into her mouth, and I saw the gap right there, where one of her bottom front teeth should have been. I nearly screamed, myself. I was not expecting this. There was blood. I thought we had a few years left before teeth started falling out. I said, “OH!” and started asking her questions, like where was the tooth, and had it felt loose when she was eating her breakfast, but she was in no position to be answering questions. I mean, she had a bloody mouth and her tooth had just fallen out. There is a reason nightmares are made of this stuff.

So I held her on the couch, and we didn’t talk about it anymore. We hugged. I was filled with a potent mix of sentimentality, worry, and excitement that we’d reached such a milestone – kind of like the first day she went to preschool at three years old. It’s bittersweet. I think of her growing up, and I am filled with a happy ache. It’s exciting to watch her become who she was born to be, and yet..I’m not going to be able to hold her in my lap much longer. She looks more like an eight-year-old than a just-turned-five-year-old.

We looked around for the tooth, but couldn’t find it. She was still unnerved by the whole thing, but when Dennis came downstairs she proudly showed him her smile. And of course a mention of the tooth fairy helped. “Is the tooth fairy real?” she asked us. I said,”Um…Daddy, is the tooth fairy real?” because I am no good at facilitating the belief of small children in mythical characters. I have a thing about “lying,” in that I can’t really do it, even to a young child about something innocent. (Maybe even more so to a young child. But that’s a whole other post.) While Dennis hemmed and hawed, Fiona answered her own question by saying, “Nooo – she’s not real!” as if it was some hilarious joke. We, slightly relieved, assured her that we would act as the tooth fairy, and she would get something special under her pillow that night.

Later, when she was at an after-school play date, and Jack was napping, I decided to vacuum. Now, we use a Shop-Vac for our big vacuuming jobs, and a lightweight Dirt Devil for more frequent clean-ups. I know it sounds crazy to use a Shop-Vac as a vacuum, but I just love the fact that the suction never fails. (Insert inappropriate joke here.) The kinds of actual vacuums we can afford are crap. They are lame and I get mad at them. With a $50 Shop-Vac, however, I can vacuum up anything ANYTHING! and I live for that kind of power, even if it’s really annoying to use it on my hands and knees (insert second inappropriate joke here. I’ve thought of a million but can’t bring myself to do it in this context. Who knew vacuum descriptions were a landmine of “that’s what she said”s?) and drag around the big tank thingy or whatever it’s called.

Anyway, I knew I might come across the lost tooth while down on my hands and knees, vacuuming with the Shop-Vac…and I did. I saw it a split-second too late. It was under the coffee table. It was just the right size, ivory, tinged pink, and I heard it clatter right up the tube of the Shop-Vac. Ack! Terrible mother! This is my first child’s first lost tooth! No excuses. I’m supposed to keep it in my jewelry box, or something!

I turned off the Shop-Vac, and opened up the tank thingy where all the junk goes (it’s bag-less) and saw that it’s been a verrrry long time since I’d emptied it out. There was a huge grey cloud of disgusting lint/dust, peppered with goldfish and popcorn bits, which look just like baby teeth, at a glance. I did find a tiny Playmobile baby and her teensy bottle, too. So it wasn’t a complete loss, opening up that thing. But I didn’t find the tooth. I dug through the dirt for ten minutes. Finally I dumped the whole load in the trash can, which is right next to me in the kitchen as I write this on my laptop. My daughter’s tooth is right next to me, and yet I can’t get to it! There must be a metaphor in there somewhere. Or maybe it just means I’m not a dedicated enough mother because I can’t bring myself to comb through the dusty vacuum dumpings for who knows how long.

Either way, I was (am) a little bit sad about not being able to hold that tooth in my hand. I want to examine it. It used to be part of my baby; therefore it is precious. There will be other teeth falling out. But this was our first.

IMG_3885 IMG_3886


One thought on “Bittersweet Tooth

  1. Lisa says:

    She looks so old in those pictures!

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