By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com March 25 2014 6:40 AM ET
Very recently, I was alone at night with our 4-year-old son, and out of the blue he said, “Daddy, my tooth is moving.” Shocked, I summoned him over and zeroed in on the tooth and gave it a wiggle with my fingers. Sure as hell, that incisor was as loose as Taylor Swift. It was one of his top middle teeth, so I knew this was a major event. I Googled “how to remove a loose tooth,” only to find out that he was too young for this to be happening, which sent me into a panic. I had to keep my cool though, and guide my child through this experience. We hadn’t even told him people lose teeth. He’s only 4, this usually doesn’t happen until 5 or 6.
I comforted him and explained to him that children lose their baby teeth and then they grow big teeth. I showed him my pearly whites and tried to get him excited about this, but his response was “Cool! I want to wake up tomorrow with my new tooth!” Next I had to break it to him that no, it would be a matter of years before that big beauty would burst through and permanently inhabit his mouth. He didn’t take this too lightly and then wanted to keep the wobbly tooth. I went back to Google and became even more paranoid after reading stories of how a loose tooth could fall out in the night and cause the child to choke. At that point I was determined to get the fucker out.
I sat him on our kitchen island and talked to him about the entire process. He didn’t give a shit about the tooth fairy, so I had to sweeten the deal. Literally. We don’t ever really give him sweets except for special occasions and holidays, so I bribed him with some ice cream (well, gingerbread gelato) to get him to submit. After moving the tooth for a while, it was clear it was ready to come out. He was actually an amazing patient, and we laughed and joked to make things as easy and lighthearted as possible. I told him how my mommy would tie a string to my tooth and to a doorknob and then slam the door to make the tooth pop out. This greatly enticed him, and before I knew it, we were upstairs and I was being forced to try this barbaric technique.
He was going around from door to door and slamming them to see which one he wanted to use. I was turning green by this point because the mere idea was way too much for me. I was back-pedaling like a motherfucker and soon found myself with floss in my hands attempting to pry the tooth out. I made a miniature noose and slipped it around the base. It was now way past his bedtime and he was so cranky and it started to bleed slightly and we were just exhausted. Sure enough, within a few minutes, it was finally free. I had escaped the door-slamming terror, and he was thrilled and checking out his new goofy smile. We were both equally freaked out, and I felt like the best parent on Earth, ever. Sure enough, the tooth fairy came and visited him that night, and she had a couple glasses of wine first, so he got a tenspot.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.