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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, »

lizandkatecupMy youngest son has bad baby teeth. They’re uncooperative, easily decayed and generally a thorn in my side.

I suspect he isn’t much more thrilled with them than I – especially in light of what was likely the most traumatic event to date in his eight years of life.

The drama began Sunday afternoon after his soccer game. We hadn’t even made it to the car and the  tears were flowing (which, I’d like to point out rarely happens in public for him).

His tooth was aching – to the point that I heard, “Please help me, Mother. I can’t stand it, anymore.”

If you’re a mommy, you know those words were the equivalent of a knife twisting in my heart.

But by the grace of God and over-the-counter pain relievers, we survived, the pain subsided and we seemed back to normal by Monday morning.

Until his teacher emailed me with more of the same.

Luckily, the dentist was able to get him in within the hour. As it turned out, that would be the best news I’d hear from them. The tooth wasn’t the only thing in trouble. The infection had spread into the roots and was entering the blood stream.

This is where I segue long enough to say his dental check-up had been less than a week earlier. No surprise that a few of his teeth needed work. But I never imagined it was that bad.

Not bad as in the assistant approaches me with a form to sign, authorizing the removal of the tooth in question. Not bad as in I request an immediate consult with the dentist. Not even bad as in they actually convince me, based in no small measure that it’s  a baby tooth and it’s the best fix available.

Bad as in, for the first time in his life, he’d experience nitrous oxide to calm him, followed by a shot to numb him. He’d go through it all alone – just his little body discovering that life can really be cruel  – and painful (especially when you consider brushing your teeth to be on the same level of eating broccoli).

But that wasn’t as bad as bad would get in my mind. The worst part was the fact that I was helpless to change what was about to occur.

The moment of trust was thrust upon us, as he waited for the dentist to return, wondering why his mother wanted to talk to him and I fought with what seemed to be all the wild horses in the world, attempting to squash the need to run to his side and tell him it would be okay.

Frankly, I wasn’t so sure in those moments as I gave my reluctant permission for the procedure. As the assistant secured my signature, I was able to get in one last question: How long?

Forty-five long minutes – that’s how long.

I returned to the waiting room, unable to glance into the one-way mirror that would allow me to watch the oral surgery, choosing instead to fight back the mountain of tears waiting to break through.

Then I texted Kate.

I took out a notebook attempting to get some writing done, only to realize 10 minutes later that I’d drawn three full pages of 3-D squares over and over and over.

His face was difficult to read as the assistant finally walked him into the waiting room. I grabbed him and hugged him as if it’d been years, again fighting the tears as I told him how proud of him I was.

After finally making it back to our car, I turned to make sure he’d put his seatbelt on. Crocodile tears poured down his face as he sat silently.

“What’s wrong, baby?”

“I’m sorry to say I’m really mad at  you.”

At which point my wall of bravery crashed and burned, and my tears joined his. He came over the back of my seat and we hugged each other for five minutes. Maybe it was an hour.

Time stood still in those moments as we verbalized everything that had transpired in the last couple of hours, and the fog of our pain and sadness slowly began to lift for us both.

As we drove home, we discussed what we’d have for dinner. If ever there was a night that deserved ice cream after dinner, this was it.

Then came a moment of panic.

“They didn’t give me my tooth, Mother! What about the Tooth Fairy? How will she know?”

“She knew,” I assured him. Boy, did she…

liz pic-Liz

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