Christina M. Currie: Like pulling teeth
October 5, 2007
Craig — When I told Katie that she would have to be 6 years old before she would start losing her teeth, she couldn’t wait to turn 6. On that blessed day, I woke her up singing “Happy Birthday” and told her she was 6 years old.
She ran her tongue across her teeth an insisted that I was wrong. She still had all her teeth.
I wasn’t as disappointed. Sure, I want some little teeth in my “mom” collection of weird childhood memorabilia, but the loss of teeth indicates a transition that I’m not sure I’m ready to face.
It’s a dilemma. When my girls were infants, I couldn’t wait for them to do the things that would give them a little independence and me a little time – walk, hold their own drinks, feed themselves, hang out in the bath tub without constant monitoring.
Each of those milestones is joy and sadness. Each step they take takes them away from me. Exactly what I ask for until I get it.
Those steps mean less cuddling, less need for mom, less time with mom.
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I feel sad each time I realize my girls have taken a step into a new phase, convinced that nothing will replace the sweetness or the fun of the last stage.
It feels amazing each time I realize I’m wrong.
The next stage is just as wonderful as the last.
Katie, now 7, has spent the past four days in bed (usually mine) fighting alternating bouts of chills and high fever.
She had no other symptoms.
It took me awhile to retrieve the memory of her dentist mentioning 6-year molars and combine that with the knowledge that my girls always announce new teeth with raging fevers.
I made Katie open wide so I could confirm my theory and sure enough, I saw 1 1/2 molars where once there were none. I counted 6-year-old Nikki’s teeth just to make sure Katie’s molars weren’t pre-existing.
But, I noticed another thing while checking Katie’s teeth, two of them were loose.
Katie hadn’t even noticed yet and I had to guide her finger to the right ones so she could check it out. Nikki had to get out of her bed and run in to see for herself.
Our entire family celebrated the discovery and Katie glowed with amazement and importance.
She said, “Don’t tell anyone, mom, cause I have to.”
It was the first thing she said when she saw grandma.
It’s funny, because I know that Katie will glory in her loose teeth. Cry when I trick her into letting me wrestle them from her mouth and mention for weeks how much she hates not having teeth and wishes they were back.
She and I are a lot alike. The grass isn’t always greener. The things we think we want more than anything, we end up realizing that we didn’t want at all.
At least then.
Then the new teeth start to grow, and we learn that change is good. Our ability to cope, to adapt and to enjoy is what makes us who we are.
Doesn’t mean that we won’t go into it kicking and screaming.
For some people, change is like pulling teeth.