We all remember the Tooth Fairy as a kind and generous soul who leaves money behind for lost milk teeth; a sweet rite of passage for young children. Who doesn’t have happy memories of wriggling those teeth out and waking up with a quarter (or if your Tooth Fairy wasn’t a cheapskate, a dollar) under our pillows?
But any parent will tell you there is a dark side to the Tooth Fairy; I believe she is also the one who plants those sweet little teeth in their mouths for harvest. And grow they do, as though she planted a demon right within their very jaw. The pain and suffering is unbearable, mostly for the parents because, mercifully, babies don’t remember. Every parent has a moment during teething where they pause and wonder whether they should ever attempt to have another baby. It’s a wonder that the human race ever thrived at all after evolution took our teeth away at birth and then allowed unremorseful infants to try out their new teeth while nursing. If you typed in the symptoms of teething to WebMD or similar, I am pretty sure you would diagnose yourself with many terrible afflictions because it IS A TERRIBLE AFFLICTION. Seriously, it’s awful to watch.
Fun fact: if you have identical twins they are genetically programmed to teethe at the same time.
It started fairly innocently for my boys. Adorable red cheeks and drool. I could see the little outlines of teeth wanting to work their way out of the gums. They were little lampreys with their mouths permanently clamped on to their fist, my ponytail, the dog’s ear, my leather couch or whatever was in reach. And then it was their first Christmas. We traveled to the inlaws and had two entire weeks of sleepless nights and constant screaming and shouting. The kids were up all night too. It was miserable. We were at our wit’s end and wracked our brains to figure out how to soothe our precious little angels to sleep in this strange new place. Then, on New Years day hours before we went to the airport to go home, I felt it. Baby B had cut his first tooth. Baby A was just a few days later and they came fast and furious after that. January was bitter. The Tooth Fairy took that round; she stole our Christmas and many of our hopes for future holidays, and basically any hope of happiness ever.
We were right about the traveling; every subsequent trip we took for the next year and a half the twins cut a new tooth. Like clockwork. A trip to meet their great grandmother, a trip to Vancouver to visit friends, another trip to meet family. All ending in screaming and tears, mostly mine. It is really, really difficult to believe that you’ll ever enjoy a trip, or really, anything at all again after straight days of sleep deprivation and just trying to tamp down the pain and suffering of your kids. And hard not to wonder if you actually gave birth to tasmanian devils by accident.
Shortly after their first birthday they got their eyeteeth and first year molars and the volcano went dormant. Suddenly life felt possible again as the demons stopped sprouting from our children’s jaws. Their little immune systems seemed to be able to fend off anything again and we were all getting sleep at night. It was a blissful time where they learned to run in opposite directions from each other, stubbornly refused to learn any english words besides shoe and had three hour sessions of jumping in their cribs like they were training for Cirque du Soleil instead of napping. There was a lot of food throwing. Ok, so maybe blissful was the wrong word, but I didn’t feel like I was actually going to die of sleep deprivation and I wasn’t wondering on an hourly basis whether my kids hated me and I should just give up this whole thing. That was more like.. weekly. Ok, daily. Ok, ok, this parenting thing is really hard sometimes. I was seriously delusional and stupid about the lull though and instead of resting up I went out with my friends and drank a lot and read until all hours of the night. But my lack of foresight and undeserved optimism is another post for another day.
Then about a month ago the whining started. There is a very particular whine for teething, common to children anywhere. It’s those little demon sprouts fighting their way out. Suddenly the chewing started again and I tried to deny it. “Oh no,” I thought, “he just has something tasty on his hands. He loves the taste of hand sanitizer!” But in my mind, I knew that the demons were sprouting. Right on track the teething hit fever pitch right as we got on a plane to visit the inlaws. I discovered the first of their second year molars on their birthday, not a week after we got home from that trip.
We’ve been staying with my parents during renovations at our house, so I get to look like a major child abuser in front of them letting my kids whine and dosing them with tylenol as often as is allowed. Grandma and grandpa just don’t understand the endurance it takes to make it through; if you respond to every cry and give in to every panicked demand you aren’t going to last a day. The Tooth Fairy’s demons take their sweet-assed time to wend their way out of the gums.
And this is our battle; the children won’t remember so I have to be the one to carry them through. And be the one to be totally unsympathetic and remind them of this when they call me about their (hopefully) twins keeping them up all night.
The Tooth Fairy won’t win. We’re so close to victory… only 7 teeth to go between the boys and I see them working their way out. She has stolen some of my life force and I have aged a thousand years just like that wizard who went all white in that movie except that I didn’t get any new powers or anything like that.