I sit in a corner of a cramped dentist evaluation room as TheMonk’s little body sits in the chair in the center of the room. The dentist looks at the x-rays and examines TheMonk’s bloodied and bruised gums suffered from a nasty fall on the playground structure at school the previous day. She gently wiggles each of TheMonk’s two front teeth and she looks at me and says the thing I fear the most: “We’ll need to pull the tooth.”
I nod knowingly and look to TheMonk to reassure him that all will be ok. I see the fear in his eyes and I silently kick myself for telling him that the dentist was just going to make sure his teeth were okay. I shouldn’t have made empty promises and now I am paying the price and feeling like a loser.
After the room clears to prep for the extraction, I kneel down beside TheMonk and I ask, “Are you scared, Buddy?” He nods solemnly and I reach out to comfort him. “It’s going to be okay, Monkey. When I was a little boy I had a tooth pulled too. I was uncomfortable but it was okay. You’ll be okay too.”
These words seem to relax him a bit and I tell him it’s okay to be scared but that everything will be fine. We are escorted to a room where he’s weighed and then given a liquid to drink. We sit on an exam table, waiting for the relaxer to take effect and I can tell TheMonk is still nervous. Every once in a while he turns to me and cries, “But Daddy, I don’t wanna get my tooth pulled! I want it to fall out on its own!” I squeeze him tight and reassure him as best I can.
Before we know it we’re in the room where the tooth will be extracted and they get him settled in and he begins to breathe in the nitrous oxide gas while laying on the table watching an episode of Olivia on a TV in the ceiling. It is then that I’m informed that they will be removing both front teeth. I protest slightly but I’m told it has to happen as both teeth have shallow roots and won’t survive the trauma. I consent and continue to watch TheMonk who, at this point, is beyond any trepidation as pharmaceuticals take over and he begins giggling randomly on the table. I make a mental note to have the “Just say no to drugs” talk with TheMonk earlier rather than later.
Before we know it both teeth are gone and I carry a sleepy Monk to the car. We get home, change the gauze, and he crashes on the couch while watching cartoons. He is an angel and I sit close by and take a deep breath as I realize just how stressed I have been for the past couple of hours.
When TheMonk awakes after an hour and a half nap he begins to cry as I take the gauze out. His mouth feels funny but Mommy soon arrives with ice cream to make it all better. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup makes lots of things better.
Soon after I run to school to pick up Swee’Pea at school and let her know of TheMonk’s teeth. She takes the news well and is glad to see her brother upon our return to the house. We soon commence with regular after-school stuff like homework and snacks and getting dinner ready. As we near dinner Swee’Pea and TheMonk begin talking of the tooth fairy’s impending visit. It is then that TheMonk and Swee’Pea realize that only he will be getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy. There is a moment of sadness that lingers in the air until TheMonk suddenly speaks:
“Daddy, can I give one of my teeth to Swee’Pea so the tooth fairy can visit her too?”
And after all the stress of the day, it is this moment that has me fighting back tears. Yes, Monkey. You sure can, you sweet, sweet boy. I’ve never been so proud as I am at this moment.