We've been consulting with an orthodontist for about two years now. I felt a little guilty walking in and out of that beautifully decorated office without ever dropping a dime into their bank account. Until Monday. The nice lady slid the cost sheet with payment options across the desk toward me, and all guilt faded into oblivion.
It's time for intervention. Time for metal and tiny colored rubber bands on brackets. Time for pocketbook breaking mouth work. Before the wires can be out into place, five baby teeth needed to go. According to the orthodontist, they were all loose, so it shouldn't be that massive of an undertaking. We scheduled the extractions for this morning. From the moment that David heard the word extraction, he went to work on the teeth in question. Yesterday he wiggled the fourth one free leaving a lonely and still fairly firm molar for the dentist to take care of today. A $78 molar, mind you, but I am grateful that we were spared the cost of the other four (minus tooth fairy expenditures).
Funny thing walking out of the dentist knowing that your child has no more baby teeth in their mouth. Knowing that you've reached the point in their little life that their brushing skills really do count. All those lectures you've given along the way about these are the teeth you will have for the rest of your life are true now.
I can't help but think about when all the teeth were coming in. There were days of crying. Crying was David's only mechanism for coping when he was a baby... and not just a little boo-hoo. We're talking days of crying, the kind of days that first time moms (like myself back in the day) would fret and finally call the doctor about. Refuse to eat, drink a bottle, or sleep kind of days. Days when every activity that he normally enjoyed, whether playing with blocks, reading a book, or taking a bath, were replaced with crying. But those days soon passed...
I remember my naivety. How I thought things were tough then. It was difficult, indeed, but it was so simple. There was no talking back, no messy room, no fear that I was getting it all wrong and that it could harm him. There were things to worry about then, but they were miles down the road. Now the worries are just around the corner, and the fear that I haven't done enough weighs heavily on my heart all the time.
There are days when I wish I could shrink him back down and hold him like I used to. Not for a long time, but for just long enough to get a good cuddle and tell him how much I love him. To apologize to the baby David for wishing it all away... the crying, the teething, the tantrums, the I-don't-wanna-take-a-nap days. To hold his little baby self in my arms one more time and soak it up, appreciating that he was uniquely himself even at six months old, a perfect creation of God.
The baby teeth are gone. The baby days are gone. Long gone.