Losing your first tooth is a rite of passage for any kid and for a young boy, it’s one step closer to becoming a man. The story of Gerrit’s first tooth is little longer than most….
In Young 5’s, his friends started to lose them. He anxiously asked me when it might be his turn. “don’t worry, it’ll happen” I confidently told him. Then Emma lost her first tooth. She’s a year older than him so it made sense hers would go first. But to him, it was a reminder that he hadn’t lost one yet. It seemed to become more and more important to him and I didn’t know why. He began asking me all the time when he’d lose his own.
But when? He wanted a timeline. I assured him that his tooth would probably fall out when he was in Kindergarten, just like Emma’s had. And he patiently waited.
Kindergarten was stressful for Gerrit. Maybe I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have at the time. Looking back now, I can see there were a lot of big changes for him. A shy kid, trying to make friends in a class full of rambunctious, high maintenance kids. I would encourage him to play with other kids at recess but I think he felt lost. He wasn’t sure how to connect, how to reach out. I watched him struggle not knowing how to help him. It broke my heart every day I’d ask him who he played with at recess and every time he told me no one 😦 Since Emma was in 1st grade and went to school all day, Gerrit and I would hang out every afternoon alone. A torturous event for him daily. He’d constantly ask me how long until we picked her up. The minutes ticking by so slowly in his little head.
It’s a hard thing for a mom to realize that your child is missing something. To see a void and not know how to fill it for them. I’d try talking to him and playing with him but it just wasn’t what he needed. I wasn’t Emma. I wasn’t a little friend for him to bond with and laugh with. I wasn’t what he needed. I worried and wondered what to do.
In those long afternoons together, he’d give me updates on classmates that had lost a tooth, how many they had lost and the inevitable question would return…
“when am I going to lose my first tooth?”
“i don’t know, buddy. soon, I hope.”
But they didn’t get loose. They stayed stiff as nails even though he kept telling me they were loose.
And then we started to worry as well. Trips to the dentist had not produced x-rays due to a strong gag reflex and a small mouth. Was it possible he had no teeth underneath??? It seemed improbable but was it possible? I was really starting to get concerned. Mentally preparing myself for there not being teeth there.
Then this fall, he started 1st grade. He started making friends. A lot of friends in fact. His school work started coming easier to him and he seemed much more comfortable in his skin. Moving closer to becoming a confident little man but still, there was still something lacking. We became convinced that losing a tooth would be the boost he needed to get there. The giant question still loomed though… were there teeth under there to discover?
We finally found our definitive proof in a succesful attempt at x-rays. I saw with my very own eyes a clear shot of all his teeth. They were real! Such relief!!! I called Dan and said something I never thought I’d be ecstatically shouting into a phone… “our son has teeth!”.
Not long after, his tooth really did start to get wobbly. Really, really wobbly. He and Dan worked on it and worked on it. They riggled and they wiggled it until it was just hanging on a by a tiny piece. Monday night, it became a family effort. Dan worked on convincing him to let him pull it out, Emma took to reading him a book to distract him and I did my part by quietly leaving the room (cuz teeth hanging on by a thread are gross!).
A few seconds later, I heard the proclamation that warmed my heart… WE GOT IT!