Monday

October 23rd, 2017

Reflections

Missing tooth takes a bite out of guilt

Lori Borgman

By Lori Borgman

Published AOctober 3, 2014

For nearly three years I've been waiting for this moment. Our oldest granddaughter, age 5, has lost a tooth. It's not the first tooth she has lost, just the first tooth she has lost naturally.

She lost her first tooth when she was 2. At our house. On the patio. She was running and fell face down. Blood everywhere. Blood and crying. Blood and crying are like the chicken and the egg; you don't know which comes first and it doesn't matter. They come together—profusely and loudly.

Should such a thing happen on your patio, let me save you time. Don't bother finding the tooth, submerging it in milk, or finding a dentist who will call you back on a Sunday. The tooth is history.

The toddler will live with a gap and you'll live with grandma guilt. That's right, just when you were shedding the last remnants of mother guilt, you now wear the weight of grandma guilt.

Every time she smiled I felt responsible. Sure, I didn't have anything to do with it and her parents and other adults were present, but it happened at our house. Grandma's house is supposed to be a fun and happy place, not a place where you to go get your teeth knocked out.

I was so sorry it happened and especially sorry that if something like this had to happen, it couldn't have happened at her other grandma's house. But then her other grandma doesn't have a concrete patio. She does have a lot of gravel and steep hills though. Oh well, it happened here.

Our son and daughter-in-law got over it quickly. They never let it become an issue. The smile with the missing tooth gradually became part of who she was. She'd smile and the missing front tooth would say, "I have charm, personality, and do not mess with me on the playground." If others noticed the missing tooth, they didn't inquire. (Thank you.)

And now she has lost her front bottom tooth, directly below the missing top tooth, which means one really great thing — she has a gap. A marvelous, wonderful gap.

Do you know what fun a gap is? You can do great things with a gap. A gap is the kind of fun you should have at Grandma's house.

She can insert straws in the gap, do tricks with her tongue, shoot water and perform dazzling feats that will make her the envy of everyone at the kids' table.

She can whistle through that gap—even when she doesn't mean to.

She can leave unique teeth tracks in a banana, clearly marking it as her own.

A gap puts her in the same category as famous actors, actresses and supermodels. Granted their gaps align a different way and are substantially smaller, but still.

The best thing about being 5 and having a gap is that it means your permanent teeth are coming soon and Grandma will let herself off the hook.

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Lori Borgman is a newspaper essayist, author and speaker. Her newspaper column, appearing in more than 300 newspapers, touches on a wide array of topics ranging from the truth about nagging to the hazards of upper arm flab. She is also the author of the popular essay, "The death of Common Sense ".

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