I spent two full hours as the labor coach for the world’s most stubborn loose tooth.
Tuck had nearly worn this baby tooth to a nub. It had sharp edges, it had started to change color, he had honestly worn it out. That very same tooth that I delighted to find seven years ago? I was so ready for him to pluck it out.
We have a firm rule at our house: I’ll help you pull your tooth – if you want me to – but I’m not going to do more than you want me to do. I won’t be sneaky about it. I won’t tell you I’m just wiggling it, only to tie it to a doorknob.
Tuck’s front tooth had been loose and then looser. He could move it with his tongue. I could see the gap at the top. This sucker was so ready to go.
Except it just wouldn’t come out.
We took turns pulling, pushing, twisting, and tugging. We tried our fingers. We tried gripping it with tissue. We filmed the whole thing in 30-second increments on my phone, since Tuck and I are both sure he’ll one day be interested in seeing this process again.
Tyler was our camera man, so his commentary runs rampant throughout.
“Tuck, when it comes out, show it to the camera.”
“Oh, my heavens!”
“It’s past my bedtime. I should go to bed. You should go to bed. We should all go to bed. I’ll just lay here on the floor. I think this tooth could come out another night.”
And a song or two about a pirate.
It was so stressful. Tuck was so brave. Every once in a while, we would stop so he could cry for a few minutes. I couldn’t blame him. I was a nervous wreck for most of my childhood, always fearing the fateful wiggle of the next loose tooth. Oh, I hated it. Every time
At 11:00 at night, we called for reinforcements: my dad. Seriously. We were at the point of no return, and nobody in this house was getting sleep until the now-sideways tooth was g-o-n-e.
Dad came (with Mom, who doubles alongside me as an expert encourager) with dental floss. He set Tuck up on the kitchen counter, tied the floss around Mr. Stubborn Baby Tooth, and plucked it so swiftly that it popped out and onto the floor.
Whew. We all exhaled a deep sigh. All of us. Even the oh-so-sleepy Tyler, who had been welcomed and encouraged to go to bed at any time.
And then Tuck cried. He cried hard. It was all over now, except for the crying.
I get that, buddy. I do.
I sat with him, held him, rocked him, and encouraged him. He wasn’t even sad or scared anymore; it was just the emotional release of two hours of tension. His heart spilled all over the place.
My mom leaned in, with her gentle voice.
“Hey, Tuck? I need to tell you something very important. You were very brave tonight, and that’s what men have to do. They have to be brave. For lots of them, they are strong and courageous when they need to be, and then, when it’s all over, when there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore and the worst part is gone, do you know what they do? They cry. And that’s okay. It’s how God made you. Girls usually cry while it’s happening, and boys sometimes cry when it’s all over with. It’s an important thing to know about yourself.”
She went on to tell him about the night he was born, how nobody got to hold him (not even his mommy, who was broken hearted and lonely to have him down the hall instead of underneath her heartbeat) because he needed to be in a special bed that could help him breathe.
My mom told Tuck, “The next morning, when we came back to the hospital, you were in your daddy’s arms. And he said to me, ‘Do you want to hold this baby boy?’ And I said, ‘Yes! Of course, I do!’ Your daddy put you in my arms, and he watched me meet you for the very first time. And you know what he did then? He cried. You were born, he knew you were safe, he knew mommy was safe, and everything was okay now, so he cried. It’s just what some men do. And it’s a good thing to know about yourself.”
p.s. The Tooth Fairy is generous for such a journey as this.