Justin got his baby teeth later than most kids, so it should not have been shocking that he'd be nearing seven years old before he started to lose them. What did shock me, however, was that his permanent teeth had no intentions of waiting around for the baby ones to get out of the way. So I'm brushing his teeth one day (yes... we still brush his teeth on occasion... It's hard to imagine what it would look and smell like in there if we didn't)... and bam, there was a tooth behind his tooth. Honestly, I hadn't felt that level of parental panic in a long time (that's the one part of having infants I don't miss... the constant anxiety of new parenting). He saw it on my face, and asked what's the matter? "Oh nothing... daddy just remembered something." Yes, a blatant lie... but the alternative was to say, "Look in the mirror... you look like a monster from sesame street!" I didn't want my ignorance to freak him out... so I, um (ahem) pretended. However, I do think I set a record for how fast I got him in the bed, got downstairs and hit the google search button. And the verdict... Shark teeth. If you want to see some disturbing pictures of kiddy mouths... google it and hit the image button. The bottom line, however, was that (the three words every anxious parent loves to hear) it's not uncommon. He wasn't going to die, nor was he going to start to eat his siblings... but it did mean that we should probably empty out a shoebox and start putting pennies aside for a shiny set of braces somewhere down the line.
Speaking of orthodontics, there was at least one obvious silver lining in the shark teeth occurrence. Up to this point, Justin has had a pretty significant underbid that had already prompted a consultation with the orthodontist about a year ago. And so, one cool thing about how far back his permanent teeth were growing in is that the (new) bottom ones were now perfectly tucked behind his top front teeth. That is, the underbite seemed to be self correcting.
As for the current situation, the first step (after the lie and the google search) was a trip to the orthodontist just to make sure every thing was copacetic. The verdict: The bottom two front teeth had to go. So off we went to dentist; who said he'd be glad to extract both teeth for about $150 each. And that's when the wiggle marathon began.
Step 2: The bribe: I told Justin that I'd pay him $50 per tooth if he got his two teeth out before his extraction appointment, which was about two weeks away.
Step 3: The renegotiation: Venesa told me that $100 was an absurd amount of money for a child who gets excited over a dollar and a quarter (hey, I was just thinking that he'd still be saving me $200). And so Justin and I sat down at the bargaining table and eventually swapped the cash for the promise of a new set of Ninjago Legos.
Step 4: The work ethic. We have never (and I mean never) seen our sloth-like son work this hard for anything. On a scale of one to ten, Justin's pain tolerance is about a negative twelve (remember, this is our highly sensitive child)... but yet he worked that tooth like his life depended on it. And, unfortunately, to no avail. Two weeks came and went, and by Monday night, Justin still had twenty two teeth (that's two too many, for those keeping score). Thus...
Step 5: The plea. Pull it, mommy, pull it! For the love of God... I need my legos! Poor child. If nothing else, he had made one thing clear... this lego thing was serious. So, after two weeks of a steady bagel and apple diet; they tugged, flossed, wiggled, and pried. But 45 minutes later, Justin went to bed still with 22 teeth. Which meant that it was time for...
Step 6: The confession. I put him out of his misery and let him know that I had already cancelled the appointment for the dentist. Given how loose it was, I was content to let at least the first tooth fall out on its own. And for his efforts, he'd still get some new legos. But that still left unfinished business: We still had two teeth too many; which brings us to the grand finale.
Step 7: The extraction. It was time to go old school with the floss and doorknob trick. And once again his bravery (or maybe it was the sheer power of lego addiction) floored me. As I told Venesa, I wasn't even the one whose face was tied to a metal knob, and I was terrified. Mind you, I personally didn't think the tooth was ready to come out... but I succumbed to the pressure. And to add insult to injury, it took two door swings because I punked out and didn't push the door hard enough the first time. Granted, on the first attempt, Justin had no idea what I was about to do; so I had the element of surprise on my side. But once we needed a second attempt, I just knew he'd run for cover. But he stood ready; and looked at me as if the say, let 'er rip. And I did. At it did. And for about two seconds neither one of us thought it worked. I figured that the string had just slipped off the tooth, and that we'd just have to wait it out another week or so until the roots dissolved just a little more.
... Until the blood started gushing from his mouth. And he smiled the biggest blood dripping lego loving missing tooth smile I'd ever seen, and yelled my tooth is gone! And there is was, still neatly tied to a string, hanging from the doorknob and ready to be cashed in for a box of plastic snap toys.
One tooth down. 19 to go. Let's hope that the others are far less dramatic.