Dear Parents that have yet to reach tooth-pulling age,
I owe you an apology. And a grave warning.
In December of 2012, after only three weeks of Ali having her first loose tooth, I penned the following paragraph:
“Shocked at her sudden burst of bravery, I quickly grabbed the napkin, reached in, and popped it out.
No wonder there’s no tool [for tooth-pulling] – it’s that easy.”
This representation was grotesquely naïve, as it was fraught with beginner’s luck, a clueless child, and a blessing from the Lord Above.
Tooth-pulling is a treacherous undertaking. It is one that can munch away at your psyche – mocking you, judging you, and acting as the Raven at your window, squawking out that same despairing word over and over, causing you to seriously doubt your fitness to take on such a challenge.
Less than a month after that first loss, her other bottom-center tooth came out, again fairly easily, and her top two teeth started to loosen.
I was unabashedly arrogant with regards to my talents, certain that I was a tooth-pulling maestro, so unique in the world of child-raising that I could easily make millions by hiring out my abilities to more squeamish and less-proficient parents.
But that was 300 days ago.
And her first top tooth just released it’s evil grip on her gums. Let me reiterate: 300 days after it became loose.
The amount of tears that went into the process of the removal of that tooth is best left undocumented, as it would most likely skew annual rainfall totals for the state of Alabama.
This time lapse is partially due to Ali’s realization that that tooth-pulling does in fact slightly hurt, and pain is something she does not believe in. It is also attributable to the clear fact that her top center teeth are rooted up to the top of her skull, sewn, stapled, and super-glued there, then also rooted down to the tip of her big toe, where they are welded to the underside of her toenail.
And this is all great and fine until the Dentist gives you a deadline and an ultimatum.
“You need to have those teeth out within three months or you will have to get her an appointment with me immediately so that I can pull them. They look like the type that won’t come out on their own, and you don’t want them causing orthodontic problems later.”
The mantel of burden that he placed upon me that day felt to my shoulders like a Momma Elephant about to give birth to triplets.
And so we began a daily routine – you must wiggle your tooth substantially at least four times a day, and you must allow Mommy one good yank per night.
What ensued was ending every night with a complete panicking meltdown, followed by either a) me getting such a headache that I gave up, or b) me feeling the need to not allow her to win the battle and risk my life and limb and digits by forcing them into her mouth to yank between screams.
Weeks went by. Our 90 day deadline haunted me with visions of my child bringing down the walls of the dental office with her impressive decibel level. Until one day we had a breakthrough, when Ali accidentally knocked her right tooth with her fork. It flapped in the breeze, most assuredly hanging on by a mere thread of nerve.
What followed were multiple nights of my “one good yank” resulting in buckets of blood, but no tooth removal – further adding to the hysteria of my Anti-Pain Activist Daughter.
After a week of this, her tooth could easily move independently from the rest of her body, giving her the ability to perform such fantastic tricks as, “Look! I’m Mater!”
I finally got another good knock at it, this time managing to [squeamish people skim this phrase] rip it forward. So far forward that it stuck – horizontally glued to her gums, but still quite insistent on being a tenant in her mouth.
And then it turned a frightful shade of purplish-grey.
I swear her tooth rotted on the vine.
After three more days of my daily yank going nowhere (and I got some good ones), my brother scared me at Sunday lunch.
“It could be abscessed. Or if it’s not yet, I bet it will be soon. You really should go ahead and take her in.”
But I took my fear and I used it to fuel the Winner Within. And with the passion of a Christina Aguilera Affirmation Power Ballad singing through my veins, I ignored my daughter’s pitiful pleas for mercy and I yanked that infernal tooth out of her head.
But not without shivering from the intensity of the past 300 days of effort. And from the fact that she still had another tooth to go before we reached our 90 day deadline.
So, parents of the world.
Teeth are a menace, whether coming into your baby’s squealing gums or being yanked out of your first-grader’s terrified soul. Do not take this responsibility lightly, or it will taunt you with its ability to steal gigantic chunks of your life.