Under this unusual circumstance of a pandemic, my kids tirelessly remind me that they’re bored. There’s not much I can do about it; I’m running out of ideas and stamina.
They exclaim they’re bored, literally, 2 seconds after they sit on the couch from playing. What?! Or they’re bored as they take off their shoes coming in from a walk. It’s baffling. After they say the 2 dreaded words, they already know my pre-recorded statement: “Being bored is not a bad thing. I want to be bored.”
With all their shenanigans and their endless boredom, I can visibly notice how much they’ve grown. A surprising change is their voluntary teeth brushing in the morning. It used to be an agonizing experience getting them to brush teeth twice a day…there would be tears, sighing, bribes, yelling (I’m not proud of this one), and dreadful stories of what happens to un-brushed teeth.
One morning this mid June, both of them began brushing without the usual whining. I assumed this is some fluke or kids buttering me up for something. But it’s been two weeks now; they’re brushing twice a day.
I’m not sure what inspired this change, but it might’ve been prompted by a lingering cavity tooth for Elliot. Since it is a baby tooth, the dentist told us to watch it so that the cavity doesn’t get worse. X-ray showed his new tooth growing in and the best thing would be for it to naturally fall out.
The tooth held up fine until mid May when he felt some pain around that tooth. We all panicked because the dentist office was closed. For days I had him gargle with salt water and told him, worse comes to worse, I will have to treat it myself as a non-professional dentist with “yankers” (a facetious term we picked up from a dinosaur show; I don’t have yankers, for real). Sorry kid, it’s the COVID time: the dentist office is closed.
Thankfully, we got an appointment the first week of the dentist reopening after the shelter-in-place. It was a hopeful car ride to the dentist as we prayed for the cavity to not get worse and that it truly was wiggly. Prognosis: it’s ready to fall out but in pieces. The tooth cracked but it didn’t cause pain or show any infection. BUT if it hurts, he’d need to get it extracted involving laughing gas.
A week later, part of that tooth with the cavity broke off and fell out. The other piece is hanging tight. Relief felt all around.
That night, a visit from the Tooth Fairy wrote encouraging notes for both kids, left Elliot’s tooth as a his souvenir as he requested in his letter, and hid small surprises for each under blankets. Usually she leaves it under the pillows, but this time the lumpy small Ninjago pod and Hatchimals Pet would be too obvious. Although Ellis didn’t lose a tooth, she has a tendency to remind you of her sadness frequently: she gets a small surprise for waiting patiently.
In the morning when he couldn’t feel the prize under his pillow, his eyes grew wide with nervousness. He’s matured because it wasn’t the old reaction of immediate crying. instead, he played it off like it was okay: maybe she doesn’t come for a cracked tooth or she’s sheltering-in-place because of COVID-19.
All those experiences may have motivated him to brush consistently. Ellis may be brushing for different reasons.
Ellis, 7, is still waiting to lose her first tooth. She has her eye on one of them but we’re not sure if it’s wiggly. Her teeth are small, like popcorn kernels. This has her jumping for joy that we’re going to the dentist this week. She’ll get the dentist’s authoritative word.
Then, she asked me if the Tooth Fairy would leave me a present if one of my tooth fell out. Do grown-ups get presents too? I replied, “Uhhhhh, that’s ok. I don’t want a gift from the Tooth Fairy. When you have grown-up teeth, you don’t want them falling out. It’s best to keep your teeth in your mouth instead of out.”
I shook my head in disbelief that I uttered those words. I felt like a dinosaur. Those are the kinds of things I heard from my parents or the older generation. There’s truth in it, but I was shocked to find myself saying the same thing.
It’s hard to get older and there’s a lot of regrets, wishes, and anxieties in facing the future. Changes are slow, sometimes dramatic, and seeing the difference/s from my young self to middle-aged self takes a toll on my self-image. It seems vain but the struggle is real. This will be a lesson of self-acceptance and thankfulness that with God’s help I get to see the faces of my 3 favorite peeps each day.
God created both youthfulness and aging. There are pros and cons to both, but I have to rekindle faith that God knows what he’s doing and that it’s a natural process of life. I was young once…now it’s transition time to a new stage.
p.s. Ellis got definitive word that bottom tooth is wiggly. She’s in high spirits!