The Drama of The Tooth

When I was in first grade I had a thriving dental business. Children used to line up at break time (recess) and take turns lying on the concrete bench which comprised my "practice". No child was turned away, if there was any hint of a wiggle I put my entire heart and soul, not to mention body weight and strength, into removing it from the mouth of my patient. Those kids had tooth fairy money on their minds and I was not going to be the one to let them down.

My practice was not limited to the playground. I have a vivid memory of an anxiously bemused teacher holding the head of a classmate while I wrangled the tooth out of her head. I remember bracing my foot against a desk, and pulling, twisting with all my might, grunting with the exertion of it while the clearly not ready for extraction tooth bled copiously. Ah how times have changed. I can't even imagine what type of law suits, health department visits, expulsions and firings might occur if a similar scene were to play itself out in an American elementary school in 2009.

I have mentioned my love affair and fascination with irony here no small number of times before, and it was a theme of my life even back then. Since around the age of three I have been swooning at the merest mention, nay, hint of a mention of blood. I passed out at the vet's office as a toddler just because I knew our dog was receiving an injection. The fact that I could not see anything, with the combination of my height (or lack thereof), the exceeding furriness of the dog and the smallness of the needle meant nothing. I knew it was going on, and so I fainted. I ended up with a pointy little chin, from where I had hit the metal examining table going down, for months after.

Not many years later there was a repeat performance as I watched my mom have her temperature taken as she sat in a hospital bed being prepped for a procedure. Nothing gory but there didn't need to be. It was enough that I knew of things to come. Right now even, I am feeling woozy recounting these tales. If I don't get enough sleep, water and nutrition I am like a Victorian lady, ready to go at any time. Right now I am lacking all three but let's forge ahead until I lose consciousness.

Did I mention that I am a doula? Somebody who attends the births of others and witnesses all manner of bodily fluids being splashed about. Rarely, does it phase me. I have yet to faint at a birth and I have even attended births when I myself was pregnant and more susceptible to fainting. And then of course there was my childhood foray into dentistry with no lack of blood and gore. I felt nothing. I am nothing if not complicated my friends.

Fast-forward to the present day and I am the designated tooth yanker at our house. My husband gets weak at the knees at the prospect of snapping teeth out of our children's head and so it naturally falls to me. In general, my husband is no wuss, but there is something about teeth that just has him coming undone. We make an excellent team I think.

Yet another irony I must throw into this mix is that whenever I hear a child wailing I have picked up my mother's manner of screaming, "TEETH! TEETH! Are The Teeth Alright?" It seems a bit troubling that our first fear is not severe head trauma or broken bones or bleeding but teeth, but it is what it is. My only defense is that I picked it up from her.

Did I mention my life is filled with irony? My one and only daughter, my beautiful princess has been without her front tooth for several years now. The only time tooth trauma has actually occurred was to her. The same tooth was bumped three times. The first time it recovered, the second time it recovered, the third time it turned black and had to be pulled out. All three times her brothers did it. Something I have never let them forget. So if you have a theory that being afraid of something actually protects you from it happening it to you, I release you of that theory, it is not true so don't bother being afraid, it is not insurance.

Moving along..where was I going with this? Oh ok, so here we are in the present day. Today, this day. This day when I am tired, and irritable.

Beautiful princess has a loose tooth. A very, very, very loose front tooth. It is sticking out at a unnatural angle. It has been so loose for so long that I suspect it is now completely and thoroughly dead since it has started to become gray.

Basically, my beautiful princess looks like a homeless woman.

She is greatly bothered by the exceedingly loose tooth. It procludes her from eating some of her favourite things. Like apples. But she will.not. let. me. pull. it. Regularly she comes to me with tears in her eyes wailing that it hurts and she wants it out. I gamely reach in to yank it out and she shrieks and runs away, looking at me with horror and betrayal in her eyes.

Then she lies on the couch next to me crying about how she wants her tooth out because it hurts to be so loose. But she does not want me to pull it out because it would hurt. And why won't I do anything to help her in her horrible predicament? But how could I suggest ending it all in a nano-second by pulling it out, what am I some sort of barbarian? But how can I just sit there looking at her writhing in pain and discomfit and do nothing, what is wrong with me?

And so it goes.

Yes, I feel sorry for myself too. I don't know how I will survive this child. And I do not know how this child will one day survive child-birth. I seriously do not. All I know is that I will not be her doula. Of this I am quite sure.

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MrsM said...

Good luck with your daughter! I have a really hard time picturing what it's going to be like when the kids start losing teeth...but I can't even think about imagining the girls giving birth!

Julie said...

LMAO. You need a friendly neighbor kid to do your dirty work. 11-year-old Devon worked with Annalise for nearly an hour to get her second tooth out. Annalise worships the ground Devon walks on so she could do no wrong. To get her first tooth out, we had to bribe Annalise with motrin, oragel, and a lilkinz. The Devon-method was much easier.

Kate is fairly easy-going about pulling teeth and Connor just yanks his out the second they move slightly. I guess we had to have one DQ.

Koala Green said...

Take her to a crouded resteraunt where she can not scream. Wrap a little napkin, place one arm around her little sholders for compfort. take the other hand with the wraped napkin and quickly pull out said tooth. It worked with Madi!

Stephanie said...

I have fainted twice--once in the doctor's office after a suprise tetanus shot and once at the doctor's office (on my mission) after a steroid shot (to clear up the massive ear infection before MY FLIGHT HOME the next day!). Both times, I swear it was lack of nutrition (I hadn't eaten breakfast either time) that got me. However, I have no excuse for the time I was admitted to the hospital a week after my tonsilectomy for excessive bleeding. Down my throat. Into my stomach. And my mom stayed in the hospital with me while I refused the transfusion AND the iron supplements and threatened the doctor with a malpractice suit unless he TOOK THE DAMN IV OUT OF MY ARM AND LET ME GO HOME!!!!!!! And my dear mother, much like you, swore to me she would be hundreds of miles away from me while I birthed my future children.


She was there, along with hubby. And a hundred stitches later, all I could think of was my baby. And I was on top of the world.

So when it comes to your princess, don't count her out just yet!

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

You are a fascinating, complex twist of ironies. I laughed when I read that you went nightie-night at the thought of your doggie getting a shot, yet you are a doula - childbirth is possibly one of the most gory things to witness. Hubba-Wha? This does not compute!

Lori said...

Wow! Small world! I previously worked as a doula here in STL. I was a private doula for many years and then worked for Barnes-Jewish as a staff doula for about 5 years or so!

I am the tooth extractor in our house. My 10 year old has a tooth that is hanging on for dear life and anytime I want to look at it, she freaks out! She knows I will get it out one way or the other!

My 8 year old son got his front teeth knocked out at summer camp (playing rough as boys will do!) and we are still waiting to see those!!

(And when your daughter is old enough to have a child, let your gift to her be the paid services of another doula!)


Aaron said...

Too funny Babe! I need to lie down for a bit after the much detail of tooth pulling, but this post is one of my new favourites.

Love it! Reminds me a bit of Bill Bryson recounting one of his experiences, but funnier dare I say.

Love you!!

Tooj said...

I don't have a clue how you handle ANY of the incredible ironies you experience. :) Good luck with the tooth...I wonder if my 14 month old will ever get anymore teeth. He only has four.

Peg said...

I think my girls had to have every single one of their teeth pulled. (Aren't they supposed to fall out naturally for some people?) Anyway, one time with Moriah (who was VERY much like Gracie) she'd allow us to twist it but not pull it. I twisted it in a complete revolution 3 and a 1/2 times and then got stuck so I tried to undo it. Unfortunately I couldn't get it back into place properly. Amidst tears and reassurances and several panicked calls to Craig, it was repositioned with all the little edges firmly in place. But I'm pretty sure I was never the 'tooth loosener' again.

nyn said...

As always your writing gives the perfect images needed to get the full grasp of your predicament. I love it. You had me laughing. Hope the tooth situations is resolved soon.

Janet said...

LOL, I understand your pain.I remember desperately trying to pursuade Eden to let me pull her awkwardly dangling front tooth before we flew to Canada. She would not have it! So we went dangly tooth and all. Thankfully a bunch of rambunctious kids piled on a hammock took care of that for us. So my advice, throw princess into a big pile of kids and hope for the best.

Chef Penny said...

This was hilarious! I have a princess too and always wonder if I will survive her!