My younger son’s top tooth is coming through. Big deal, a 7 year old with a tooth coming through! But actually, for us, it is a really big deal. The tooth – and his twin brother too – has been missing for one year and 358 days – or 103 weeks precisely, as worked out by number 2 son himself (told you he was clever).
The missing teeth are the result of one of a long series of accidents which befall our kids (more on some of the others at a later date). This one involved a trampoline and three kids.
To take you back a bit, a friend whose kids are even more accident prone than mine, warned me not to let more than one child on the trampoline at once. It’s not because, as you might think, they could bump into each other. It’s because as children of different sizes and weights jump at different times, the trampoline can react in strange ways – sending the kids off in dangerous directions. Her daughter broke her arm in such an accident and was given this advice by yet another friend of ours – the consultant who pieced her back together.
So picture the scene. It’s after tea on a Wednesday in September 2009. The kids are outside playing nicely. I look out of the window and see they are playing nicely on the trampoline. Altogether. I thought about my friend’s words of wisdom. Should I call them off and risk tantrums and arguments – or should I leave them playing nicely? I took the wrong decision and my son has been without teeth ever since.
Shortly afterwards, there was a sound like I had never heard before or since. Just like mums know their babies’ cries, so I know my big kids’ cries. That wasn’t a tantrum or a strop, that was serious pain. My eldest came running round to report that his brother was hurt, followed by my 5 year old screaming, holding his mouth and spurting blood.
Blood spurting from your angel’s mouth is not a pleasant sight. My boy is big and brave and tough, but he REALLY HATES BLOOD. So I always have to be really careful not to react and not to draw attention to the blood. So I say something lame like ‘Oh dear, you are hurt, aren’t you’ and shove my eldest inside to get a tea towel.
My boy is screaming and screaming, barely breathing between the screams. I don’t know if his distress is caused by pain or the sight of the blood, but I can’t calm him down. In these situations, there is only one answer – call my mum and dad. Any sort of problem, I am straight on the phone to them and they are straight round. But they were on holiday!
Remember the friend who told me not to let the kids on the trampoline? I was going to have to confess to her – her husband is a dentist and the only person I could think of who could help us out of this mess. I rang her, and she couldn’t make out a word I was saying, what with all the screaming in the background, but she got the message that there was a problem and sent her husband round to save the day.
You may be wondering where my husband was at this point? For some reason he was walking home from work that day, so he arrived as my friend’s husband was assessing my boy and my boy was still screaming. He screamed so much he even fell asleep for a few seconds. He was refusing to remove that tea towel which was soaked in blood and dribble and starting to smell, but we could just see that his top front teeth had been pushed back and almost out.
The dentist rang the hospital and using some special dentist power denied to regular A&E customers he got through to the right department who said they would see him. With no mum and dad around we had to call on my sister to look after the other two kids while we drove to the hospital and magically got ourselves through A&E and into the right department. My poor boy still refused to shift that smelly tea towel, but had enough energy despite his distress to climb off the back of the dentist’s chair and run away when the word ‘X-ray’ was mentioned.
All we could do was take him, his dodgy teeth and his smelly tea towel home. Remarkably he slept all night, but when he woke he couldn’t eat, sleep or talk. I rang the hospital and they said they would see him. I dropped my big boy at school, my girl at playgroup and it was back to the hospital.
There was only one thing they could do – take the teeth out. Because of his distress, that could only be done under general anaesethic and because he’d managed the tiniest mouthful of milk, that couldn’t be done until the afternoon. The worst of the pain was over, he was hungry and he was bored. I spent an exhausting morning at the hospital trying to keep him entertained and out of mischief.
When it was time to go for his operation, he took one look at the gown – decorated in alphabet letters and clowns – announced it was for babies and set off across the ward and all the empty beds in his pants, with me following trying to wrestle the damn gown onto him.
Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of your baby getting an anaesethic. It took seconds for his eyes to roll back in his head and close. Then I was all on my own. I walked back to the ward, sat on the toilet seat and cried my eyes out.
I read crap magazines in the gap where his bed had been until I got called to the recovery ward. He looked at me, smiled a gappy smile and said ‘Hello mummy’. It was the most beautiful sight and sound in the world.
That gappy smile has been with us for two years. It has become part of his character, part of what makes my boy who he is. There’s nothing weird about a nearly-6 year old with two top teeth missing. There’s nothing weird about a nearly-8 year old with two top missing either. But to be missing them for two years is rather weird.
So that’s why we are so pleased to see that tooth. But when it’s grown down fully, along with its twin brother tooth, we will miss that gorgeous gappy smile.