Last night I came home from work to find my little guy laying on the floor whining. I was in a hurry as I had to drive to Stockton to pick up the hubby, who was carless after dropping off a car for safe-keeping. I was not in the mood for whining (and my eight-year-old has a penchant for whining), and had wanted to walk straight out the door, but my mother instinct kicked in and I stopped to see what was bothering him.
"My tooth hurts," he whined. I tried to look in his mouth, but the lights in the family room were not meant for dentistry. I could see two faint small dark spots on two other teeth (cavities!), but nothing on the tooth he was complaining about. I dragged him in the bathroom where the lights were better.
"Give me your best tiger mouth," and he tried to open wide, but kept trying to stick his finger in there. I pulled it out of his mouth and tried tilting his head at various angles. Finally, I could get a visual on the sharp edges of one of his final molars breaking through the back of his gumline.
"You're getting another one of your big-boy teeth!" I exclaimed, hoping to stir up a little excitement from my sad-sack of a son. He shrugged his shoulders, his mouth still turned down in a sad frown.
I suggested we put some Orajel on it. "Does it sting?" he asked, and I told him it wouldn't sting, but would make his mouth feel a little fat and fuzzy. I dabbed some on a cotton swab, and rubbed it liberally over his incoming molar.
There is a moment, as a mother, when you watch your child's face and realize a very bad reaction is coming. At this point, you can't stop it, and your brain races to think about ways to head off the impending badness. As the Orajel took effect, I could tell that the numbing and the terrible taste that accompanies the local anesthetic were not being as well received as it could be. His face crumpled and the giant tears started rolling out of his eyes as he let out a low, continuous keening sound that could break hearts of stone. Sadly, as an experienced mother, I was torn between feeling terrible and being amused at this ridiculous reaction, a combination I had not quite seen in my 13 years of mothering.
I grabbed a wash cloth, and wet it with cold water, telling him to stick it in his mouth and bite down. It was my two-fold attack: cloth absorbs the Orajel, cold and pressure helps the tooth feel better, much like you do for teething babies. I packed him in the car with his wet wash cloth, and away we went.
When we got to Stockton, and were heading into the restaurant, I asked him how it felt. "Better," he said. I rubbed him on the head and said "I know it hurts when those big teeth come in . . . but that's what happens when you get your man-sized teeth."
"Man-sized?" he asked, cocking one eyebrow under his knit beanie.
"Yep. That tooth is a permanent tooth - it is the same size as it will be when you're all grown up. It's the same size as Daddy's tooth. Man-sized."
I think I caught him swaggering a bit as he strode toward the restaurant saying low under his breath "Man-sized."