Wow. That title sounds bad.
Would it be better if I told you that she asked me to do it?
My daughter had thrown herself face-down on my bed and I heard a muffled, “Please, I just want this over with.”
“What’s that?” I was barely paying attention, absorbed as I was in making a mental list of the presents I needed to buy so my husband would have something to give me on Christmas morning.
“Just get it out of me. I don’t want to do this anymore.” My 7-year-old flipped over, flailing her arms and legs. “PULEEEEZ! Please, please, please! I want it out!”
Since I was pretty sure she wasn’t giving birth, I decided that she must be talking about her loose tooth. A top front tooth had been loose for months. During the last few days, it had been aggravating her to no end.
“Okay,” I said, “Let’s see what we can do.” We sat facing each other on my bed and recreated a scene we had acted out twice before with her bottom teeth. “First, I’m going to twist it to the right.”
I began turning her tooth slowly until she pulled back with a gasp. “Ahhh!”
“Eeew!” I answered with a shudder. “Okay, again, but the other way this time.” I gingerly twisted her tooth to the left.
“Ow, ow, ow!” Zaffy pulled away, covering her mouth with her palm.
“Eeew!” I flapped my hands at my sides. “Ick!”
“Mommy! Why are you saying ‘ick?’”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that wiggling her tooth out of its socket gave me the heebie jeebies, so I semi-lied.
“It’s just that I hate hurting you, honey. It goes against a mother’s nature.”
This wasn’t a lie per se; it just didn’t apply to this particular situation. I couldn’t have cared less about what she was feeling. I was more concerned with not puking on my candy cane-striped sheets because I found the whole endeavor so gross.
My daughter patted me on the shoulder and shook her head, saying, “Mom, it’s just part of the job. Sometimes a mother has to hurt her child. Please get this tooth out of my mouth.” She looked me in the eyes. “I’m begging you.”
Dutifully, because it was part of my job, I knocked my knuckle against Zaffy’s front tooth, putting a little bit more force behind each try until I felt the crunchy, wet crackle of the tooth’s connective ligaments snap and give way. I suppressed a gag.
Zaffy threw both hands over her mouth and her eyes widened in surprise. “What have you done?”
“What do you mean?” Was she turning on me?
“What did you do? Why did you do this? I never wanted this!” She started to cry.
“Are you kidding me, you little … ?” I stopped. To finish the sentence wouldn’t have been very merry, and I’d been trying awfully hard to have the holiday spirit.
“Are you kidding me, Zaffron?” I asked. “You begged me to do this. You actually used the word!”
“I did not. You made me do this. I want the tooth back! PUT … IT … BACK!”
“Zaffy, remember when we talked about the word ‘ambivalent’?”
“Mommy! Pay attention!”
I stared at her.
“I’m not going to look cute for Christmas!”
“Oh for God’s sake, is that what you are worried about?”
Zaffron gave me a look that only a daughter can give a mother, the one that communicates her deep desire to never have emerged from the likes of you, and ran out of the room.
I walked to the kitchen, where my husband was making eggs for the kids.
“Zaffy lost her tooth,” I said.
I heard a distant yell from another room. “I didn’t lose it! Mommy knocked it out!”
I sighed and returned to my bedroom, defeated by my latest parenting fail.
When it was time to get into the car and drive to school, Zaffron sidled up to me and slid her arms around my neck. “You helped me lose my tooth,” she whispered in my ear and gave me a hug.
“Is that your way of saying you’re sorry?” I asked, hugging her back.
She squeezed tighter. “I’m really not sure.”
This post was originally published on Families in the Loop, I’m very grateful for their support.