Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Ugly Tooth

Since Ben started getting his teeth at 4 months old he has been characterized by an "ugly tooth." I was reassured that this tooth wasn't caused by poor infant hygienic practices, but instead was caused by a prolonged high fever that I experienced when I was pregnant with him. My concern that people would think he was a child allowed to have juice bottles in the crib has always made me quick to explain the cause.

I've loved every thing about how my little boy looks, except that darned tooth. The spot with no enamel has gradually worn away as he's gotten older, leaving a jagged, brown tooth. You got it, an UGLY TOOTH. His friends have even asked him why he has a funky tooth, a question he doesn't enjoy. I know, we probably should have taken him to the dentist to get it pulled, but I'm just more of a "let nature take it's course and see what happens" kind of mom.

When his teeth started falling out a few months ago, I constantly have encouraged Ben to wiggle his ugly tooth. We've talked about wanting it to fall out nearly daily. But Ben is not a tooth wiggler. And I had begun to think that I might someday have an 18 year old kid who still has an ugly baby tooth in his mouth.

Then today...

It finally happened... by way of a bite of pizza!
What I wasn't prepared for though was that emotionally this event ranks up there with stopping nursing, learning to walk, and starting kindergarten. My boy is a little less my baby today. That tooth was a physical representation of our bond. A reminder of something we shared in the very beginning of his existence.
I am always excited to move on to next steps with my kids, but I also feel a little sadness and nostalgia for the ending of a phase. However, I must acknowledge that the loss makes him an even better looking kid (yes, I am his biased mother) and the boy certainly has plenty of unique character with or without the tooth.
And finally, I slap some sense into myself and remember that no matter what he is mine. With or without the ugly tooth as a reminder, the bond is there... and I love having the privilege of getting to watch him grow up and change.

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