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A Mom and Daughter on the Too Much-ness of Loose Teeth

I believe this is one of life's greatest ironies. Kids work so hard to grow those cute little baby teeth. Us mommas buy the Orajel and the teething rings and and amber necklaces to help them through the discomfort. And before you know it, they start falling out of their heads.
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When my girl child was 9.5 months old, she still didn't have any teeth. She had all of the classic teething symptoms. Drooling. Fussiness. Trouble sleeping. As a matter of fact, she had all of the classic teething symptoms... for months.

I kept checking her gums. But nothing. No signs of little teeth poking through.

No teeth.

So as any good, loving, tired first-time Momma, I decided. I put on my brave face. And I made my peace with it.

I sat my husband down and prepared him for the worst. I told him that we just needed to come to terms with the fact that Y just didn't have any teeth.

Of course, we would love her just the same. Teeth or not.

He patted me on the head and tucked me and my dramatic self in to bed to recover from a little sleep deprivation and a lifetime of... being this way.

But then, eventually, those cutie little baby teeth did show up. And her cute little baby tooth smile was full.


Those cute little baby teeth started falling out.

I believe this is one of life's greatest ironies. Kids work so hard to grow those cute little baby teeth. Us mommas buy the Orajel and the teething rings and and amber necklaces to help them through the discomfort. And before you know it, they start falling out of their heads.

Y lost her first tooth in her Kindergarten class. It was Muffins for Mom day. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there because I was out of town at a conference (cue the mommy guilt). So my Mom, her Nana went in my stead. Y had a semi-loose bottom tooth, but then she bit into a chocolate chip muffin and out came the little thing.

And cue the drama. It was too much. She panicked, looking at this little, tiny bit of calcium that was now, loose in her hand that used to be attached to her little head.

And cue the tears. It was too much. Nana tried to comfort her, but couldn't get her to calm down. There was a tooth. There was a little blood. There was too much attention and too many people looking at her. And this little tooth in her hand was too big of a thing. So, in true NASA style, Nana calmly called over Y's absolutely-perfect-in-every-way Kindergarten teacher by saying, "Um... Mrs. B. We have a problem."

First tooth. Check.

But then the story goes... a few weeks later, without its neighbor, the second little tooth began to loosen up. And Y wanted nothing to do with that one, money under a pillow or not.

Now there was another little tiny tooth, hanging by a little tiny thread inside a little tiny girl's little tiny mouth who was... let's call her hysterical.

She did not want her tooth to come out. She knew it would hurt too much. She had seen this happen before and she knew what to expect and it was going to be bad and there was going to be blood and people looking at her and... too much.

So an hour and a half later, the bus has already gone by and this exhausted (I could have used a drink at 9:30 a.m.) momma is still upstairs with her hysterical baby girl, cajoling and trying to calm and soothe and talk her through the too-muchness of it all.

But finally, I did what any good, loving, tired first-time momma does. Like a ninja, I reached in, popped the tooth out in a nanosecond while the girl child, still wailing, barely noticed.

Done. Tooth in hand. Put a call in to the fairy. Let's go to school.

You see, this good, loving, tired first-time momma has learned. Over the years, I have gotten better at knowing what she needs and how to respond. I have learned my child. Because she is my walking talking mirror; I have learned my child, like I have learned myself.

I have learned that if we are left to our own devices, we will make the proverbial mountains out of the proverbial mole hills. We will make it a disaster. We will assume and imagine the worst possible consequences. We will worry and fret. We will work up some tears. We will make our stomachs hurt.

We will lay awake at night, trying to sleep, snuggled in with the What Ifs and the Maybes and the What Could Happen Ifs along with the What Will They Thinks.

And I have learned that we need someone to pat us on the head and tuck us into bed. We need someone to pop out teeth and get it over with fast. We need someone who can shrink mountains down to size and call in the haz-mat team and calmly clean up the too much of disasters.

We need someone to remind us that it doesn't all have to be too much.

My Y and I have learned this together. This dance between a good, loving, tired, first-time Momma and a spirited, soulful, sensitive first-born girl child. We have figured out the steps together. Slowly. Stepping on each other's toes. Trying it again. Trying to understand. Trying to listen and learn and teach and help.

Whether it is finding a pair of socks or her shoes or her softball glove when she is feeling too rushed; whether it is the multi-step math word problem or the goods and services project when she is feeling too overwhelmed; whether it is the friend who didn't play with her on the playground or the one who gave her a sideways look in the hallway when she is feeling too insecure.

Whatever the problem is. We are learning together how to meet these too much situations with just a little more bravery than yesterday. And a little less too muchness.

Which is why I was so proud to come home yesterday to a snaggle-toothed little girl, having missed another tooth escape by about 10 minutes. She stood there, smiling with tooth #6 maybe, (I've lost count) in a little ziploc bag and a big story about a banana.

She said, "I was brave. Only a few tears fell out because I was trying so hard not to cry."

And as we laughed about her tooth and the banana, I casually mentioned that is was amazing that she hadn't swallowed it. And immediately regretted that comment.

"What could happen? Is that a bad thing?" And there it was. The familiar look. I could see it in her eyes. A little mirror. A little glimmer of the too muchness. The too muchness of the What Ifs and the Maybes and the What Could Happen Ifs. I know that look well.

I smiled and reassured and patted her on the head and tucked her in and made her giggle by saying something about poop.

That is my girl child, my Y. She is just too much. And we will be a little more brave in our too muchness together.

Let's all, Go. Do that.


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