Seamus and I had a little surprise on Thursday night:
He’s been wiggling that tooth for a while, and on Wednesday I mentioned to a friend that I should head on down to the bank and get a roll of Sacajawea or Susan B. Anthony dollars before it came out. I figured I had more time - he wasn’t dangling the tooth over his lip or anything that screamed “tooth loss imminent!”, and I figured if either of my kids would do that, it would be Seamus. I would have gone today, in fact.
Then we made spaghetti and meatballs on Thursday night, and sometime between the boys washing their hands before sitting down and getting out of the bathtub, the tooth vanished. I’ve swept the floor several times in both the bathroom and kitchen, and I suspect he lost it while biting down on a meatball.
He bummed out at the thought of not being able to wish on his tooth and slip it under his pillow. I asked him to hang on while I put Tristan to bed. While Tristan nursed down, I came up with a plan that I hoped meant I could avoid sifting Seamus’ poop while still honoring his now quite lost tooth. When Tris fell asleep, I went into my room and unearthed a two-dollar bill I’d been saving for a rainy day.
I gave the bill to Seamus before we read Robin Hood.
“I thought you could wish on this,” I said, holding out the bill. “They aren’t very common. I’m sorry your tooth is gone. I’ll keep looking after you go to bed.”
I read to him and we snuggled for a bit afterward while I told him the story of his tooth. How it had been the very first one he cut, how he’d drooled endlessly, how I worried about giving him too much Tylenol. He kept calm until I told him that we should say goodbye to his tooth, and thank it for all its work in teaching him to eat hard things, then the tears came.
“I don’t want to say goodbye to my tooth.”
“Because it got lost, or because it’s no longer a part of your body?”
“Because it’s not a part of my body. I want it back.”
We talked a bit about how this was part of growing up, and how he’d soon have a new tooth that he’d get to keep forever. After he fell asleep I tried to remember what it felt like to lose a tooth. What did I feel that first time?
I started losing my teeth sometime after we moved out of the Alamo Square apartment we shared with my dad, but before he vanished. I remember being excited about getting money from the tooth fairy, but I can’t remember feeling anything about losing my teeth. Maybe losing bits of myself made sense at the time, since so many things and people had fallen away already.
Before he fell asleep, he mentioned that another tooth felt loose. I’ll have to get to the bank for those dollar coins, and start preparing another tooth story. I wish he didn’t feel sad about losing his teeth, but I’m ready to help him mourn the end of his early childhood. I hope 35 years from now he can remember the sadness and how he was allowed to feel sad while we worked to make things okay in the end. And how the day after he cried about that lost incisor, he began trying to whistle through the gap in his teeth.