My son had a loose tooth for months. Literally months. It was on the bottom, just left of centre, and it wiggled and wobbled and he could push it side to side with his tongue and although he claimed he tried to pull it out, he said it just wouldn’t come free.
The tooth was so loose that I truly believe if he sneezed hard enough it would just pop right out. And it was like that for an incredibly long time.
My entire family, and even some friends had been teasing the poor kid for many weeks about that tooth. We’d offered our services for any number of methods of tooth extraction, from the standard pull it out with some pliers to more enhanced versions like stringing it up to a drone and flying the drone away.
Sometimes he joked and laughed along with us, like when my daughter offered to tie it to a door handle and slam the door. He laughed and said he would just run along with the door so the string never got tight enough to pull. Smart kid.
Other times (and more often than not) he shut down completely, had a tantrum, and told us it’s his body and his mouth and his tooth and it’ll come out when it’s good and ready and would everybody please stop talking about it. He’s not wrong. I reminded him that the tooth was still in his mouth because his parents respected those boundaries and only because of that.
Lord knows my own mother would have chased me around the house with a Kleenex and sat on me to get it out rather than be forced to watch me jiggle it with my tongue until it fell out on its own.
I do remember a long, long time ago, my dad was tasked with pulling one of my sister’s teeth out. He pulled out the one next to the loose one and my sister has never forgotten. I want to avoid that trauma with my child if I can. That seems reasonable, I think.
My boy was late to get teeth as a baby and despite being close to seven-and-a-half, he has only lost one other tooth. The adult replacement for the one he lost first, as well as the replacement tooth for the one that was super loose, were both very clearly making their ways up and through his gums. It looked like shark teeth! I warned him that if he didn’t yank it sooner or later the new tooth would push the baby tooth out and he’d swallow it or not notice it fell out and miss his chance on a tooth fairy visit. He didn’t seem to care about that. He wasn’t worried.
Well, the other day that snaggletooth finally came out.
My children had gathered beside my bed early one morning to harass me until I got up. By harass I mean my son played the recorder while my daughter danced around him, both inches from my face. Once I was up and out of bed (I mean who could keep sleeping with that type of production?) the kids climbed up and were playing on my bed. We had a look at the wiggly tooth and my son talked about how badly he wanted it out but how it hurt and it wasn’t ready.
Then, with the wisdom only an over-confident five-year-old could posses, my daughter said the following:
“Why don’t you just open your mouth and bash your face on the bed?” To which my son, close to two full years older and I would have thought more rational than his sister, replied, “OK!”
(At the very same time I was yelling “NOOO!” from across the room.)
He chose to listen to his sister over me. Bad move.
Or was it?
My son, my smart, intelligent, intellectual son, opened his mouth and bashed it on the mattress. Nothing happened.
You’d think at that point he’d realize it wasn’t the smartest idea but no. He did it again.
“It’s out,” he said calmly after attempt No. 2 was successful — like it was totally normal to hurl your own head into a semi-firm mattress in the hopes of dislodging your own chiclets. He held out his hand and there was his tiny tooth, finally free of its little gum prison.
My son has always been the type to do things on his own schedule and in his own way. It used to worry us. He’s our first child and we thought there were strict time lines for growth and development we were to adhere to. We’ve learned over the years that with the exception of a few milestones, the world won’t end if he develops at his own pace, which is a good thing because I suppose it should come as no surprise that he’s got his own well-formed thoughts on tooth extraction.