Monday, September 20, 2010

Lost Teeth...and Other Things I've Missed

Lefty has a hole in his face. I keep telling him that, mostly because it gets a huge rise out of him. He digs his feet in and makes little fists and growls at me in frustration and says "Mom! I do NOT have a hole in my face. I just lost a tooth."

And I insist that, - until a new tooth takes over that space - it's a hole, and his mouth is on his face, and therefore, he. has. a. hole. in. his. face. And then I wait for him to make a ruling on my clearly ironclad argument, complete with incriminating photos of said hole and he begrudgingly rules in my favor. Right up until the next time when I bring it up, and we do the little Law & Order dance all over again.

To be clear, Lefty does not like to lose. He likes to lose even less when he's ruling against himself. Which makes it that much more fun to debate. And then I get to know what Jack McCoy feels when he wins, minus the eyebrows.

He's been waiting years to lose his first tooth. His friends have been sporting the fashionable hockey player look since kindergarten, and Lefty was starting to get a little irritated with his tardiness in Keeping up with the Toothless Joneses.

And then, the day after he left on vacation with his Dad, I get this phone call:

Lefty: Mom! Guess what? I lost a tooth!
Me: Oh no! I mean - YEA! I'm so uhh, happy for you! How did it happen?
Lefty: Well, I was biting on McGee's pillow, and she got mad and yanke--
McGee: [hollering in the background]: Nuh-uh! I just wanted my pillow back and OWW!
Lefty: [to sister] --it's MY turn, Funky. [Editor's Note: She HATES it when he calls her Funky. To his credit, he uses it sparingly, so it's super effective when he pulls out the Funky Card. - Kate] So, she yanked her pillow out of my mouth and *plop!* my tooth came out with it. Isn't that cool?
Me: [feigning enthusiasm] Yeah. It's super cool. Wish I had been there...to see...your. first. tooth. come. out. *sigh*
Lefty: Oh, and McGee lost a tooth too! It's been a great day!
Me: What?! Lemme talk to Dad, please...

I get a full recap of the events. Yep, two lost teeth. McGee's 12th. Lefty's FIRST. I'm simultaneously completely thrilled and totally depressed.

I missed it.

For his whole life, it will be his only first lost tooth. He'll remember this story. He'll tell it hundreds of times over his life. I'll tell it again and again. But I wasn't there.

We think we'll always be there for those moments in life: first steps, first words, first day of school...first lost tooth...you never imagine that one of those firsts will happen when you're not around. Dad was around this time. He'd actually never done the Lose-A-Tooth festivities. McGee always seemed to lose a tooth when she was with me. Add in Season One's squeamishness about blood and wiggly things, and I was the one that pulled the hanging-by-a-gum Chiclet, and then scrounged around the house a 5AM for a two dollar bill or Sacajawea coin to hastily shove under the pillow because I forgot the night before. Maybe it was time to pull me out of the Tooth Fairy Starting Line-Up.

Because Season One and I live so close, I never really gave much thought to missing great moments in my kids' lives. I live eight houses down the street, for Pete's sake. But if you're a mom who works, who's divorced, single, deployed, or just at the wrong place at the wrong time, there's going to be times you miss stuff. Stuff that dad sees, or grandma. Or the babysitter, teacher, or just someone that's not you, dammit. And that sucks. Even if you're a full time stay at home mom, there's going to be that one time when you're getting your hair cut, or in the shower, or at the OB/GYN for the love of Maude, and that First is going to happen.

I was at school eating lunch with Lefty last year, and this adorable little girl in his class bit into a bread stick and, apparently, her tooth took a vote and decided it wanted to stay embedded in the bread rather than in her gum. She didn't even know it had happened until she took another bite and nearly ate her own tooth. At first we were all "EWWW! There's a tooth in your bread stick!" and I'm pretty sure I led the Charge of the Gross Brigade in freaking out the whole table -- and then the whole cafeteria -- with the idea that some deranged lunch lady was squirreling away her teeth in dough. Two of the kids started ripping apart their bread sticks like there was treasure in there. And the boy sitting next to Lefty took his, basically dissected it like he was CSI: First Grade, declared it uncontaminated, and threw it away anyhow. About fifteen minutes after the ruckus started, Chloe upped the ante by saying, "Umm, Lefty's Mom, there's blood everywhere" and looked like a Cullen. [Editor's Note: Looking at a six-year old in horror and yelling "Oh my God!" is probably not the most reassuring response to "...there's blood everywhere." - Kate] I finally figured out the offending tooth came from the bloody face.

It was her first lost tooth, too. I will say, it was kinda cool to be there for it. Everyone cheered, the teacher proffered up a little baggie for her tooth, and Chloe had a pretty awesome - if gruesome - story to tell.

Her mom, of course, missed the event. And now gets to think about this "other mom" being there for Chloe's First Lost Tooth. And the story. And the screaming and Cullen-ness and the CSI investigation and the still-told Legend of the Crazy Lunch Lady who's hiding teeth in cafeteria food. She probably hates me.

I want to rewind life. For her. For me. To just a few seconds before those Firsts happen. Even if I could just witness it from across the room. I just want to see the look on his face when he saw his tooth.

But, maybe it's enough that a mom  - any mom - is there for our kids' firsts. Season One's mom was in the car when Lefty lost his tooth. I was there when Chloe lost her tooth. Maybe Chloe's mom will be there for the next kid. I'd like to think that only a mom knows what a mom does. We all want to be there for all the moments, knowing that we can't. Knowing that we'll miss one here or there. But, also knowing that, just sometimes, we'll have the privilege of subbing in for another mom when she can't be there. And I wouldn't miss those moments -- any of them -- for anything.

I saw Chloe last week at school. Her entire top row of teeth is gone. All six. I told her she had a hole in her face. She told me she lost them all when she slipped off the diving board at the pool. I made a face and asked her if she was OK. "Yeah. You thoulda theen the blood! It wath thoooooooo dithguthting. My mom thaid gee wath glad gee mithed it the latht time. They had to clothe the pool."

Mental note: Miss one, get six in return? Umm, no thanks.

Oh, Lefty has another loose tooth. I'll be working on my Jack McCoy victory face. And, possibly growing out my eyebrows. I just hope I'm there to see it. And, if I have any say, it won't happen at the pool.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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