Tuesday, January 24, 2006

#110 - The Trauma and the Ecstasy

Triumph Over the Tooth

Doodle is the baby of the family. She turned six before Christmas last year, and has stubbornly held on to her baby teeth until just this month.

Of course it was a big deal when older sister Jelly went through it. That first loose tooth is a major milestone. It signals the end of an infancy. (Yeah, yeah... I know. I've read the "experts." Trust me... this is where baby is no longer a baby.) Learning how to crawl; taking that first step; the wagering over what baby's first word would be ("Hah! I toldja she'd say 'Da' first! Pay up!" "But Sweetie, she always says that when she's filling her pants."); all of these are important, but nothing says "big girl" (or boy) like having their baby teeth fall out.

When it happens to the baby of the family it takes on an even greater significance. The baby is the one Mom and Dad keep an eye on for several reasons. Firstly, Mom gets wistful because there are no more little ones coming. Thus, every milestone achieved is another one we won't be going through personally. If we want to watch kids' teeth falling out after this, we have to wait until our girls have kids of their own. Not that we're in any kind of hurry. In a very real sense, the empty nest syndrome begins the moment baby is born. Assuming, of course, you happen to know this baby will be your last one. And we do.

Dad, of course, watches the baby for slightly different reasons. Baby's timeline is Daddy's retirement timeline. Can't really retire until baby has either left the house or (worst case) finished college. Then the fun begins!

With that for background, you will understand that last night was interesting to watch. Doodle has been fighting allergies the past few days, and she's one who loves to milk things for effect. No idea where she got that, but it must be Mrs. Woody's fault. Anyway, her tooth had finally gotten to the point where it was literally hanging upside down, attached by a few microns of gum tissue.

She was miserable.

We had a snack after Family Home Evening and she only wanted to drink the milk. Her gum was sore enough that she was terrified of doing anything that might cause more pain, and in her mind having that tooth pulled away would qualify as "Torquemada." Tooth brushing was an ordeal and Mommy had to carefully navigate around the flopping tooth so Doodle wouldn't flinch. By the time she got to bed, Doodle was one hurtin' cowpoke. She slept like a brick.

My alarm goes off at about 5:30 most mornings. I managed to actually be up and around by 5:45 this morning, and was in the girls' bathroom (story for another day) when I heard the girls' door open. There's only one creature that ever wanders the house at that hour besides Daddy, so when I saw Doodle snuggled in bed with Mommy I was not surprised. When I got there she had just noticed that her tooth was missing and was terrified that the Tooth Fairy hadn't left her any money because the tooth wasn't under her pillow. So, Daddy had to go on full alert and do a search-and-rescue for the missing tooth. Fortunately the flashlight illuminated the tooth where it had, appropriately enough, fallen underneath her pillow.

I recognize this will be bittersweet for Mommy. Her baby really is growing up now, and from here it will be a whirl of events from baptism to graduation to wedding. Doodle, on the other hand, is back to having the time of her life. I won't swear to it, but I suspect she hasn't stopped smiling since I left the house.

It's the cutest gap I've ever seen.

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