Early autumn we noticed that Robert was growing “shark teeth”. This happens when adult teeth grow in behind the baby teeth. I looked it up out of concern, only to discover it is a fairly common phenomenon for children. The search results indicated that it was best to encourage the child to wiggle free their baby tooth, and that the adult tooth would naturally go into place as the tongue pushed against it.
We checked Robert’s front bottom teeth, where a ‘shark tooth’ was growing in, and noticed that he did indeed have a loose tooth. We would periodically check it, but he didn’t seem bothered by it and was not interested in wiggling it loose, or having us wiggle it loose for him. I even tried wiggling it for him in his sleep (he swatted me away, even mid-dream)!
We were eating dinner with family one evening and I decided to show my brother Robert’s shark teeth. Only… Robert was missing a tooth! He no longer had shark teeth!
When I asked Robert about it, he just said “Partie!” (French for “Left”, or in this case “Gone”). He wouldn’t (couldn’t?) tell me what he did with it. We frantically searched his bedroom when we got home, and decided he must have swallowed it.
We told him the Tooth Fairy would not be able to visit him because she didn’t have a tooth to collect. He seemed unphased, and unaware of who this tooth fairy was.
Fast forward a few weeks… and Robert has another loose tooth!
This time I am determined to keep track of the tooth. The tooth fairy was going to finally make an appearance in our home. Day after day, morning noon and night, I would say to Robert “Is your tooth still there?” (yes) “What do you do if you lose your tooth?” (Give it to mom/dad/grandparent/teacher/EA).
I felt as though I was a broken record, and that he was getting annoyed by my constant questions. “Surely this must mean he’ll hand over the tooth when it falls out!” I thought to myself.
One day, after what seemed like an eternity of peppering him with questions, Robert was on the toilet. I quickly ran downstairs to put some laundry in the machine, telling him I would be right back. I came back upstairs not 30 seconds later to find a proud Robert who announced that his tooth was in the toilet.
The toilet full of poop.
It was a poop tooth now. And there was no way that I was reaching in to the full toilet bowl to fish that tooth out. Because poop floats, and the tooth sunk to the bottom of the toilet.
So, no visit from the tooth fairy once again.
I know he doesn’t understand the concept of the Tooth Fairy, but I can’t help but feel as though he is missing out on a magical piece of childhood. I remember being at a family event at a legion hall and losing my tooth in the woman’s washroom, only to have it fall down the drain as I washed it in the sink. I was devastated to say the least, and begged my dad and uncles to take apart the drain and find my tooth (and they did!). I don’t remember how much the tooth fairy brought me per tooth, I just remember the magic and excitement surrounding the missing tooth.
It’s in those moments I find it difficult to parent my boy with Down Syndrome. I want him to experience these magical, social mores with his peers, but when he doesn’t understand, I struggle to find ways to make the moments important and to recognize this coming of age.
In hopes that the next tooth brings excitement, we’ve purchased a book for him that features the tooth fairy. Fingers crossed that the tooth fairy will bring her magic to our home in 2020!