Tooth for a Tooth

I didn’t bounce into the kitchen talking a mile a minute as would be usual. I quietly took my place at the family supper table, slipping between my sisters, Mary and Betty. Mom had made one of my favorite suppers; a Spanish rice and hamburger casserole we called, ‘hungry man’s delight’.

Handing me a slice of buttered homemade bread, Mom questioned, “Is that loose tooth bothering you?” I nodded. The tooth was very loose. It didn’t take much to make the tooth wobble. Every time it wobbled, it hurt. Sometimes it even bled.

My brother Billy suggested, “You should pull it out so it stops hurting.”

I gave him a reproachful look. Pulling out a tooth hurt. This tooth already hurt, so the idea of pulling it out horrified me.

Mom stewed half to herself, “I’m worried that she’ll accidently swallow it here at supper, or during the night while asleep!” Sucking on a small chunk of buttered bread, I nearly choked. I was already a worry-wart, so I didn’t need Mom’s vision of terrible things to add to my fear!

I glanced at Daddy. He didn’t say anything, but his brown eyes gave me a calm, reassuring smile.

As soft as the casserole was, it made my tooth wiggle when I tried to swallow some of it. I was hungry, but sadly pushed my plate away.

After the meal was over, Daddy and my brothers got up and went to the barn to do the milking chores. Mom and some of my sisters began to clear the table and wash dishes. I went into the living room and curled up on the davenport with a comic book. Looking at the pictures would take my mind off the loose tooth.

My sister Betty taunted, “Read the comics with your mouth open. Maybe your loose tooth will just fall out.”

After the milking chores were finished, Daddy returned to the house to wash and shave as he did every evening. I liked to watch him shave, so I went into the bathroom and sat down on the edge of the bathtub. Working up a lather with a long-bristled brush from soap in the bottom of a coffee cup, Daddy spread the white foam on his face and slowly drew a razor over his skin. Then, rinsing the razor off in the sink, he repeated the actions until all the foam and whiskers were off his face.

Then, he turned to me and said, “Let me look at that loose tooth of yours.” Seeing me shake my head, he cajoled, “I won’t hurt you.”

Feeling that I could trust Daddy, I whimpered, “Just look. Don’t pull.”

Sitting down on the edge of the tub next to me, Daddy pulled me onto his lap. I trustingly opened my mouth. “Zing!” In one second flat, Daddy’s hand shot up, gripped the offending tooth between his fingers and pulled it out.

I yelped and jumped to my feet with the taste of blood in my mouth. I’d been betrayed!

The place where the tooth had once been healed quickly. Removing the loose tooth had been a kind act. Mom didn’t have to worry that I’d choke on the tooth in the middle of the night and my pain was gone. Now I could once again eat without pain. However, Daddy’s betrayal bothered me for a long time.

When my children were losing their baby teeth, I let them do what they wanted. There never seemed to be a problem. Their baby teeth eventually fell out.

My first grand children were a different story. The little fiends relished rocking their baby teeth back and forth until they could pull the tooth out themselves.

Keeping this toothsome history in mind, I was shocked when my grandson Jacob, asked me to pull his loose tooth. He and his brothers, Luke and Ben recently stayed with me for several days. When they arrived, I knew Jacob had a loose tooth, but I promptly forgot all about it until his request.

Remembering Daddy’s betrayal, I squeaked, “You want ME to pull your tooth?” The boy, much braver than I ever was, had had enough of the painful, rocking bit of enamel. He nodded.

Feeling nervous, I washed my hands and reached for the tooth. It popped off as if only one skin cell had been holding it in place. Jacob looked startled and clapped a hand over his mouth.

Handing my grandson a freezer fruit pop, I explained with a smile, “This’ll make the bleeding stop.” Apparently not feeling a bit betrayed, he accepted it with a bloody, gap-toothed grin.


One thought on “Tooth for a Tooth

  1. Cute, very true story. Those ‘tooth removal’ stories go on in every family. Some are more ‘daring’ as yours was, but some are even real exciting with rewards involved…

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