Tooth Warrior

My nemesis

Teeth I removed from a child yesterday: 1

Adrenaline released during removal of huge molar: 7 million units

Teeth I ever want to remove again: 0

So, an update on one of my recent posts, Teeth and the Foreseeable Future: my nemesis returned. I tried to create an artistic still life with the image above. That is so I don’t get so creeped out I can’t type.

My son was eating snack yesterday afternoon. Something crunchy. Then there was running to the bathroom and keening. I had never actually heard keening, but now I have.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” (Drama occurs daily in our house, so I have to measure my responses.)

“My tooth! My tooooooth!”

That was the wrong thing to say. He’s read my blog post about teeth.

“Oh.”

“Aaaaaaah! My toooooooooth! It’s not coming ouuuuuuutt!”

We’re not talking about a tiny front bottom tooth. He’s on to the huge, honking molar ones that look like arctic boulders.

“I’m sure you’ll get it. A paper towel and a quick pull. You’re strong. And brave!” And then I plugged my ears some more.

More screaming. More keening. Spitting. Ickiness.

“I’m coming in!” I yelled, bursting into the powder room. (Except that the door was already open, so it was less dramatic.)

The bravery I displayed was akin to a Navy Seal taking down a bad guy. Me: paper towel. Him: partially open mouth, tears, pain, fear of my ineptitude. Both: screaming and keening.

Yank. Tooth tumbling down onto his shirt. Disbelief.

I swear I’m like a superhero to him now. I mean, I’ve run a marathon and birthed two babies, but really? A molar. That’s the real deal.

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Teeth and the Foreseeable Future

Novel queries I sent today after a hiatus: 1 (yay!)

Teeth my dentist says I have lost in my lifetime: 20

Teeth I remember losing because I have a mental block: 4

Lost teeth creep me out. I am probably revealing a deep, psychological part of myself never before seen in the blog world. But when kids walk up with teeth hanging on by a thread… and they wiggle them? Eeeeek. How weird is it that part of our bodies just drop off, and then more grow in? Am I the only one who thinks it’s like something out of a horror movie?

The other day, it was my turn to do Storytime at lunch for a few of the kids in my daughter’s third grade class. I’ve read parts of personal favorites, like The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, Lawn Boy, The White Giraffe… this time, I brought along Drizzle, one of the books my daughter got for Christmas that I hadn’t read yet.

I say hi to the kiddos, and one of my favorite kids says, “Oh… isn’t it so sad when the grandma dies?”

This was news to me.

“Oh, it happens in the first few pages, so it’s over pretty quickly,” she says. Which was exactly the part I was going to read.

I think I was swayed by the front cover, “Welcome to a magical farm where vegetables taste like chocolate!” Nowhere in that tagline does it mention that a grandma dies. Ooops.

But I start reading, and it’s pretty good, but the boys get wiggly, and there’s no magic yet, except for the word, “castle,” which causes a couple of them to perk up.

“Can we just not read?” one of the boys asks.

“Well, I have two options: you can sit at your desks and not talk for the next 20 minutes, or we can read until the class gets back from lunch,” I say, because I am just that mean.

One of the girls, the one who is chatty and acts about 35, says, “I have another book you can look at–see?” And she hands me Smile, which is a graphic novel about a girl who is in middle school and needs braces.

I start reading it, and the boys get still, and the girls lean forward, and their little breaths are right up close, and they’re clamoring to see what bits of words I’ve left out, because it’s just that compelling to them.

And then the girl in the book trips and knocks her front teeth up into her gums, and the endodontist tries to fix it, and there’s blood right there in the pictures, and the kids love it. Love it.

Maybe they just don’t have my tooth issues.

But it makes me think about an interview I did with a middle school media specialist about how visual kids are today. She has written a book about using graphic novels in the curriculum, and she talked about how teachers can use graphic novels of Shakepeare’s plays to help kids understand the plot.

I saw the effects. I know kids love to press buttons and look at pictures and have things spelled out for them. But I think it goes back to whether you should give kids what they want or what they need. When they grow up and hear a speaker, will they be able to understand what the speaker says without fancy pictures and PowerPoint presentations? When someone says, “Your assignment is due on Friday,” and they don’t send a confirmation email, or a YouTube video showing the assignment’s specifications, will these grown-up kids know what to do?

At least when their kids start losing their teeth, there will be an online tutorial giving explicit instructions for removing the wayward body part. And bloody tissues to illustrate the point.