The Tale of The Toothless Wonder

When I was 8 and my brother was 9 the two of us thought it would be a smart idea to wander across the street to go play in a newly constructed Safeway parking lot. He was riding my bike and I was running along side him and we were racing. I was showing off to him how fast I could run, and he was showing off how well he could pop a wheelie.

Being the observant children we were, we neglected to notice the newly planted trees in our private concrete jungle were being supported with invisible wire. I barely jumped over a wire holding a tree up and avoided doing a face plant but my brother, a nano second behind me, wasn't as lucky. The bike hit the wire, he flipped over the wire and landed face first into the pavement. The bike flew into the air and landed on his head, driving his face further into the concrete.

I ran home immediately, across the street, in a state of panic and shock, the only mental image I had was my brother looking up at me and his face covered in blood and strangely toothless. That's right. I abandoned my injured brother to go tell my father who was at home unaware his dental bills were about to become astronomical.

I had just barely blubbered out our tale of sorrow to my dad when my brother walked through the door, annoyed with me for ditching him and leaving him to walk the mangled bike home by himself, along with a fistful of two broken teeth.

My dad leaned in to examine my brother's broken smile and cursed loudly upon discovering the teeth he had lost were his two permanent front teeth.

I don't really know what happened after that, there was a cup full of milk and talk of saving roots and all of a sudden I was left alone as my dad shuffled my big brother out the door only to return hours later, grim faced and unhappy.

One tooth was saved, the other still missing.

Almost thirty years later and my brother has had plates and falsies and finally an implant and while his smile may be intact now, he'll always be the toothless wonder to me and the dental annoyance to my parents.

I will always be the girl who maintains her innocence in the debacle and for the record, I totally won that race and not by default either.

I've carried that incident with me all these years (but no guilt dammit, because I'm INNOCENT) and when my kids were born I made sure to safe guard their teeth so that no one would grow up with the scars of having gap toothed smiles as adults.

So far, 14 years into this parenting gig, I've been successful. Fric and Frac have all their pearly whites and it's my hopes all their adult teeth will remain in their heads until I'm no longer responsible for paying their dental bills.

But then came Jumby.

My sweet Jumbster. The boy with so many medical problems, dental care, while important, is the least of our concerns.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday was a holiday Monday here in Alberta and I spent the entire day kvetching about how my children were driving me insane. Fric spent the day singing as loudly as her lung capacity would allow in her bedroom, Frac spent the day yelling at her to shut up and Jumbster went from one hard surface to the next to find new and exciting surfaces to bash his head and feet into.

He never bangs his face hard, more like a gentle bump and I wasn't overly concerned about him hurting himself because he never has in the past.

That right there was FORESHADOWING. High school lit for the win.

At six I went into the kitchen to make supper. Jumbster was kicking the stove with his feet and I bent over to tickle him and moved him out of my way so I could start cooking. He was whole at this point, everything intact. He was a happy little head banger indeed.

45 minutes later, I was standing over him, freaking out because somehow, through the course of making dinner and feeding his older siblings my little man knocked out his front tooth. His single adult tooth on the bottom. He didn't just knock that sucker out, he ripped the whole thing out, root intact and everything.

The boy doesn't even know he has hands let alone fingers that work. It's like the tooth fairy shot out from no where, grabbed a pair of pliers and pried that tooth out herself. Mystery of all mysteries, I tell ya.

Commence my parental freak out.

My dog, the ever helpful mutt he is, was helpful in locating the tooth and was politely licking it clean when I pried it from his mouth. At least Jumby wasn't choking on it. Small favours and all.

Maybe I can make a necklace with it?

I spent the next hour on the phone with every medical and dental emergency clinic I could reach. Jumbster spent the next hour laughing his head off because look Mom! There's this wicked cool hole in my face and boy does it feel funny!

With one doctor after another, I spoke of Jumbster's complicated medical history, and it all boiled down to the same things: Jumby's health, the lack of anesthetic, holiday hours, location and it all culminated into the perfect storm of Jumby remaining toothless and my remaining powerless.

As frustrated as I was, each doctor I spoke with (and I spoke with more than I care to count) all confirmed what I knew was true; it wasn't just unlikely to reinsert his tooth, it would be unsafe. And when push comes to shove, Jumby's life is worth more than one single adult tooth and I'm not willing to risk his fragile health with complications due to wanting him to have a perfect smile.

I had about made peace with the situation and was cuddling my new toothless wonder on our couch when his father walked through our front door unannounced and unexpected.

The man's sense of timing is almost flawless.

"Oh good, you're here. We may have a small problem." I'm the Queen of Understatement.

Boo set his bags down and hung up his coat while raising an eyebrow and asked, "Really? What might that be?"

How does one explain to the father of her children that their youngest child just yanked a permanent tooth out on her watch?

"Um, I have no money, and the tooth fairy is going to be making a stop at our house tonight."

"Really? Awesome!" His face lit up like the innocent father he is and he scooped Jumby up to examine which baby tooth his youngest son just lost. "You lost a tooth buddy? Look at you growing up!" he cooed as he pried Jumbster's mouth open to sneak a peek.

I watched his face as he peered into his son's mouth and I knew the moment he realized the problem. I had a sudden urge to go fold some laundry so I stood up to walk into our laundry room. My fight or flight instincts had just kicked in. I chose to flee the scene of the crime like I did, almost 30 years ago with my brother. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

"What the hell Tanis???"

What could I say? Just, welcome home Boo. Welcome home.

I've now added a new goal to my parenting strategy for the Jumbster. One involving a hockey mask, and keeping all his teeth firmly in his head. Who says goals have to be lofty?

Everyone loves a toothless wonder, right?