Saturday, February 5, 2011

Out with the new. In with the old.

"Mommy, I think my tooff is even more broken now!"  I'm doing the dishes while she watches the Powerpuff Girls.  "Lemme see," I yell back.  She hop-skips in and sure enough, the little fella is hanging open like the tailgate of a pickup.  "Well, you can have me pull it out or you can give it a pull."

There's a lightening quick look of apprehension, slight rise in the shoulders, protective.  Then the shoulders drop and she opens her mouth wide, picking at it with her index and thumb.  I hear it give a bit more, tissue letting go.  I'm stunned.  

I remember how long it took me to finally pull my loose teeth.  I worried them for days, talked to people who had lost teeth before, listed every possible method for pulling them (including the old string and doorknob trick).  Not Nora.  

She reached right in and gave it a good tug.  And there it was sitting in her hand--a precious piece of her.  I remember the nights of teething while she worked to get it through the gum.  And now, it sits in her hand.  I know I will save it just like I saved the first piece of hair I ever had to cut.  Proof of this incredible person, this miraculous life.  That she was once my baby girl.  And when she is a woman facing her own set of challenges--what to let go, what to keep--I will show her these small treasures of her little girlself: the hat she wore from the hospital, the monitor belt she wore around her chest, the hair, the tooth.  Already her courage is guiding her.  It always has.  I will remind her of this in the same way my mom reminds me of what I came here already possessing.

She shies from the blood but I assure her that it's completely normal.   We write a note to the tooth fairy explaining that she can't forget that "this is my very first loose tooff."  We leave the little envelope under her pillow.  As she tries to sleep, I see her eyelashes fluttering, forcing them closed.  Finally they pop open, "Mommy, when exactly IS the tooff fairy going to get here?"

If it's hanging on by a thread, cut it off.  If something new is about to come through, get rid of the dead thing sitting on top of it.  It's sewing and gardening, folks.  Sewing and gardening.  This is also living.

Oh, and does anyone out there have change for a $10?


  1. My mom has every single one of my baby teeth. She keeps them in this little wooden "jar" (if you can call it a jar) that is no bigger than the end of my dad's thumb. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I almost didn't keep them. (The dentist asked me.) But when I was doped up on laughing gas I decided that I wanted them after all--to go with the baby ones.

    What I'm trying to say is that she will fold up the love you show by keeping her teeth and tuck it in her pocket for a day when she needs to know you love her very much. She will carry it with her always. And maybe one day she'll keep her wisdom teeth because she knows that's what you would have done.

  2. Nora's braver than I was. I remember with one loose tooth I just left it there, for weeks, till one day it literally fell out of my mouth. You have a courageous little girl, there. :)