A (dental) rite of passage

Tony’s first tooth came out with little drama. Between one word and the next, while chattering about (what else?) Star Wars in the back seat of the car on the way to school, his loose tooth tumbled out of his mouth and down his shirt.

That was easy.

The next one … Not so much.

We had just come out of Tae Kwon Do, Tony was strapped in to his seat, chomping on a fruit leather as I backed out of the parking space. I heard a crunching sound.

“Crunch?” I remember thinking. “Fruit leathers aren’t crunchy.”

That’s when the howling started. Tony had bit down exactly wrong (or right, depending on how you see it) on the fruit leather and dislodged the loose(ish) tooth right next to the first one to go. Ouch. Yeah, that apparently hurt quite a lot.

And boy, was there a lot of blood. Like, horror movie quantities. It was dripping down his chin as he wailed, so there was a vampire-run-amok quality to his image in the rear-view mirror as I hastily re-parked the car.

Thirty seconds later I was rinsing his mouth out with a water bottle and then packing his gum with a wad of tissue when a mom with another tot in tow walked over to the SUV next to mine. Quickly surveying the scene, she correctly judged that, despite all evidence, I was neither beating my son to death nor being consumed by the undead. She introduced herself as a dentist, produced a sealed packet of sterile gauze from her purse,and then went on her way.

Oh, thank you, wandering puller-of-teeth and filler-of-cavities.

Funny how I’d blocked these particular memories from my own childhood, but now they’re all coming back. Forget fruit leathers; right now, the pantry is full of apple sauce.

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