Four front teeth

When I came in from taking the recycling out, Everett told me: “Sophie uh-oh,” and led me to the bathroom, where I found her spitting blood into the sink.

It was a lot of blood, but I reminded myself that head wounds bleed profusely and everything was probably fine. I got her a tissue to absorb the blood from her split lip. I got her some ice to quell the swelling. I gently checked her teeth (now that it’s her second mouth injury, I knew what to do), and found the front teeth extremely wiggly. So I phoned her school to tell them we’d be late to school, then I phoned our dentist, who would open in 20 minutes. I left a message telling them we were on our way.

Evs & Sophie had been piling pillows into a fort in our living room. Soph had climbed on the fort’s roof. The pillow-roof fell in and, on her way down, she hit her open mouth hard on the solid wooden chest that we use as a coffee table.

Everett started wailing when he saw me give children’s tylenol to Sophie but not to him. Getting him out the door was a struggle, but everyone calmed down in the car, where I had a chance to tell Sophie the exciting news that the tooth fairy might be coming early now.

My dentists’ office was ready for us when we walked in. Soph was still sobbing, clutching her blankies for reassurance. “You’re in luck!” the receptionist told her. “We just got new toys in the treasure chest that everyone gets to pick from on their way out, so you’re going to have a lot to choose from, and that’s not even counting what you may be getting soon from the tooth fairy!”

I have, in the past, grumbled that this pediatric dentists’ office is ridiculously over-cheerful, but this morning I was grateful for it. This morning I was in love with my dentist’s office. They praised her bravery and calmly took x-rays, then sat her down watching one of those kids’ videos they play in the ceiling, which did wonders for her mood. As they poked around her mouth, they had to keep reminding her to please tell them when something hurt. She was more interested in watching “The Magic Schoolbus” than in talking about her injuries.

Even Everett behaved himself, thrilled to explore their basket of toy trucks while I listened to the dentist explain that Sophie’s upper-front teeth had jammed into the small bone that holds them in, actually fracturing the bone of her upper palate, leaving a bloody line across the top of her gums. The bottom teeth jammed, down, too. And the lips bore the brunt of the impact. At least four teeth will probably fall out in the next week or two, which is fine, and we only have to worry if more than four fall out. We’ve got a lot of follow-up appointments with the dentist, now.

Our dentist says there is a six-month window, in everyone’s life, when it’s fairly safe to hurt your teeth because you’re about to lose them anyway and grow new ones. Sophie is smack in the middle of that window. Our dentist is superb at positive spin. Then the dentist’s assistant told Soph all the exciting things she’ll be able to do soon when she’s missing at least two front teeth. She reported to her dad, later, word for word: “I’m going to be able to spit water at my brother in the bath and he won’t even know what hit him!”

She was still bleeding when we left the dentists’ office, an hour later, after her mouth had been swabbed with disinfectant. but we were all in a better mood, heading out to get frozen yogurt to help Soph’s swollen lip, with my purse now stocked with gauze pads for the blood,

I asked her if she wanted to go home to watch movies and eat ice cream, but she told me no, she wanted to go to school. She wanted to show off her dramatic injuries to her friends.

I asked if she wanted me to try to wash the fuzzy pink bracelet she was wearing, now that it was splattered with blood. She told me no, blood is cool.

I was enormously proud of her.

So I took her to school and only realized how crazy an idea this was when the school secretary and nurse looked at us, aghast that I was dropping off a kid who was still bleeding. They asked the smart questions: What can she eat for lunch? Does she have a plan for sedentary play during recess time? I agreed to go buy some soft lunch foods, then return in an hour or so to check on her and see if she needed to be taken home.

Evs and I stocked up on the softest things I could think of: bananas, hummus, yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin pie. We also stocked up on lip-chillers: popsicles and ice cream. And I started to think of all the ways Soph might injure her already fractured palate at school. Evs started to fade into sleep, but I kept him awake long enough to go retrieve Soph from school. “Please can I play one more round of rhyming bingo?” she asked, and then Everett simply howled, shrieking during the whole walk from her classroom to the car, probably terrifying hundreds of kids.

When we got home, I finally realized how terrified I had been all morning, too.

Soph herself is fine. Her lips are already less swollen, already forming the ugly gray scabs that the dentist prepared me to expect. The hardest part, I think, for her, is that the dentist declared she should avoid jumpy-castles for at least a half a week. She did art all afternoon, instead, while her brother whined about not getting to go to the park. They made a parachute-man, around sunset, when Ben took this photo.

I think I may be more traumatized by my daughter’s injuries than she is herself. Such is the empathy of motherhood, I guess.

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