Thursday, May 26, 2011

Losing It

Am I a “Tiger Mom?” Nah. However, when my baby girl sets a goal, I am not above doing what it takes to help her achieve it. Yes, even when it comes to losing teeth, my competitive spirit just cannot be contained. I remember all too well being a late blooming first grader, wishing I could lose my first tooth at school. Ms. Lewis had the greatest “Tooth Fairy Award” there ever was. She lovingly colored it in herself with those magic markers that smelled like fruit. She gave it to all those lucky individuals who lost their teeth at school.  I sat all year watching classmate after classmate collect those wonderful awards with not so much as a hint of a wiggle of my own pearly whites. Robert bit into an apple at lunch and lost his. Someone (I think one of my sisters) punched Michael in the mouth on the playground causing him to lose one. Charla had a tooth just fall out in Math class all on its own. When I finally had my chance, I decided I would save up my one and only loose tooth for a school day. I wiggled it, but not too much. I wanted to lose it in class.

However, my father snatched my dreams and my tooth right out of my mouth one day before bedtime. He slyly asked if he could feel it. Then he reached in and just snatched it out in one motion. I was so defeated.  I contemplated sticking it back in the bloody hole and trying to fake it the next day, but I knew that would just severely confuse the Tooth Fairy.  Though I knew there would be money under my pillow, there was an emptiness in my heart because I knew I blew my one shot at getting my “Tooth Fairy Award.” I vowed that if the opportunity ever arose to pull a tooth when I had kids, I would not unless they were absolutely certain of the consequences.

Nowadays, kids are different. Not only are they reading earlier, but they are losing their teeth earlier too! Every night, my little girl has another announcement about some kid in her Kindergarten class who has lost a tooth. She brings home library books about losing teeth. She talks about it constantly. She is more obsessed with dental loss than the denture wearers down at the old folks’ home. Keeping in mind my own dental immaturity, I was actually surprised when she came to me this morning with not one, but two loose teeth. They weren’t very loose, but just a little. I told her she needed to wiggle them if she wanted to lose them, but to be sure she washed her hands before wiggling. When she came home from school, there was no change. She asked how long I thought it would take for her to lose one. I told her that it would probably be a couple of weeks since they weren’t very loose at all. She looked very disappointed.

    “But there are only four days left of school,” she pouted, “If I lose my tooth before school ends, my teacher will give me a stamp.”

    “Interesting,” I thought to myself, “You don’t actually have to lose the tooth at school anymore to get the reward?”

I figured this was my license to intervene. So I told my daughter that I could certainly pull or at least loosen up that incisor with some dental floss if she would just trust me. She trusted me alright. After about 10 minutes of bloody torture, she shook all over in a frantic laughing, crying, terrified frenzy as I calmly talked her through the whole mess and let her know that despite all the blood, she was really alright. I finally gave up on the dental floss altogether and (just like my dad) reached in and pulled that sucker out.  I felt horrible, but she was so proud. She hugged me and thanked me over and over again. When her daddy got home, she proudly displayed her new empty space and tiny white tooth. You would never know there was a gory scene of anguish just 30 minutes before. I know she is happy and will get her stamp now, but I feel just sick about convincing her to do it. She may have lost her tooth, but I think I have let my competitive drive get the best of me and I am really the one who has “lost it.”

Dustee Morris is a 35-year-old who manages a full time career, being Mom to five-year-old Rian and wife of almost 12 years to husband Brian.

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