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the crib sheet

It only took 30 minutes

Brooke Nalle

Yesterday, my husband picked Alistair up early from school, had him at the dentist at 2, and by 2:45 Alistair was home on the couch - minus 4 teeth.  He spent the afternoon playing with his numbed lip, dripping motrin out of his mouth, and eating Dobbs Ferry's version of pinkberry.  Today he was off to school good as new.

This event has been more traumatic for me than for him.  Of course, I don't like the idea of Alistair suffering or being uncomfortable.  His quick recovery immediatly quelled this dimension of my worries, but I am having a hard time dealing with how just 30 minutes can erase months of suffering and worry that framed his first two years of life.

From 4 months until 24 months, Alistair was always somewhere in the process of getting teeth.  Sometimes it made him drool, sometimes it made him bite, and very often it made him not sleep.  His teething drove me crazy - I would give him motrin, tylenol, bizarre little pellets, teething gel, and I would often look longingly at the bottle of scotch at his great grandfather's house - but nothing ever really seemed to work.  Eventually the tooth would come out or sometimes it wouldn't and I would obsess over liver damage and put off giving him pain meds for days.  Simply put, I never knew if he was teething or just cranky, tired, or bored.  

I have heard pediatricians explain that there is no connection between teething and poor sleep; I have heard doulas and other sleep coaches say the same thing.  As for me, I am not sure how I feel now having lived through 6 years of teething in the past 7.5 years of being a parent.  I do think they are woven together in some capacity but one that is irrational and unpredicatable.  If I was a scientist, I would have thrown out my research long ago.  As a mother/expert, I would proclaim: "I am 100% positive that tooth will poke through tomorrow."  In reality, it was always another few weeks or even a month and then I would see Alistair, Clara or Loewy for that matter laughing on the swings and there it would be - a little dab of white in a gummy mouth.

I guess as a parent no matter what you are dealing with - teething, sleeping, eating, going back to work, staying home, a new baby, sibling - infants, babies, toddlers, children are irrational in many, many ways.  The only way to deal with this irrational factor to having children is to try to remember that they are human, making their own choices, consciously or unconsciously.  We can supply love, support, routines, but they will from time to time defy all that we can offer.  

So back to the 30 minutes....  what took Alistair's dentist 30 minutes took me 2 years to deal with and another 5+ years to process.  A lot of parenting is like this - you do so so so much work and they go off to nursery school, grade school, college, grad school and do things for themselves!  After you had to do it for them, with them over and over and over again.  It's both annoying and rewarding.

So Alistair is at school with a big bowl of his favorite mac and cheese to have for lunch and a promise of ice cream when he returns home this afternoon.  As for me, I think I will make a nice dinner, have a nice glass of wine, and toast teething and other delightful parenting challenges.