Smile

tooth1As a dad blogger and son of a dentist, I’ve found myself writing a lot about tooth loss in children between the ages of 5 and 10. (I also find myself curled in the fetal position whenever I think of the dental drill in my father’s basement. True story.) Sometimes the kids’ tooth removal stories have been funny and sometimes it’s been painful….and sometimes, the tooth doesn’t want to let go. This is that story.

While sitting across from Garrett one night at dinner, I kept staring at him because he reminded me of someone. One of his two front teeth had become so loose, that it moved over and began to block the other tooth. Each time he opened his mouth, he looked like a shark with multiple layers of teeth. It wasn’t until I watched him laugh and snort that I realized who he looked like – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery!! I quickly grabbed my phone and created a side-by-side picture to truly see the similarities.

austin

This tooth would not let go….or, Garrett would not let go of this tooth. I’m still unclear as to which was which.

Over the past few days, the tooth had become horizontal. Not only was it partially blocking one tooth, but now it began to “peek” out from between his lips because it had nowhere else to go.

Each time we tried to remove the tooth, Garrett would put up a fight and then scamper away. We tried giving him corn on the cob to loosen the tooth. We tried giving him gum. We tried putting ice on it. Once, I (jokingly) tried to use a wrench.

2

Nothing worked. It wasn’t until GWE had him strapped into the car seat of his nanny’s car that she was able to finally separate tooth from child. All I can say at this point is, the tooth is out…..and now so is my wallet!

 

garrett-dentisSometimes, it’s not what happens to us that compels us to make a change, but it’s the things that we witness happening to other people that make us reassess our own choices in life. Case in point: Garrett recently experienced something, but it had a bigger impact on Justin.

While on a routine dental visit, the dentist discovered that Garrett had a small cavity. Even though the cavity was tiny, we knew that the task of getting it fixed was going to be monumental. Garrett is not a good patient. He does not like having dental equipment in his mouth, does not like the sounds that the equipment makes, and he has zero patience for sitting in a dental chair. GWE and I knew that he certainly wasn’t going to tolerate getting a shot of Novocain AND having his tooth drilled. I spoke with the dentist and he agreed that Garrett was a “hostile patient.” We decided that the only course of action would be to use nitrous oxide to keep him calm.

As the day of his cavity removal approached, GWE and I kept telling him (excitedly) about the “Firefighter’s Mask” the dentist was going to put on him on his next visit. Garrett was intrigued by the prospect of wearing a mask meant for firefighters in a dental office. As soon as he arrived at the dentist’s office, he asked to see the mask. He looked at it quizzically. It wasn’t like the ones he had seen at the fire station Skeptically, he got into the chair and put the mask on. Slowly, the dentist began to administer the gas. After a few minutes, Garrett was supposed to begin feeling the effects, so the dentist administered a shot of Novocain. Garrett felt it, realized what was going on, and began to fight back. Clearly, the gas had no effect on him.

In the meantime, GWE and Justin were in the waiting area and they could clearly hear what was going on. Garrett was screaming, shoving the dentist and hygienist away, and trying to escape while the we tried to keep him calm. I looked over to the lobby and saw GWE cringing. Justin appeared calm, yet slightly panicked as the blood drained from his face. After 30 minutes, I told the dentist that this wasn’t working and that we’d have to try again at a later date.

Knowing that his defiance had been successful, Garrett angrily hopped out of the chair and was at the front door in less than a minute. When we got in the car, Garrett was back to normal. What we didn’t know was that Justin was the one who was affected the most!

Later that afternoon, we had a normal lunch. Afterwards, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.

toothbrush

After dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.

After breakfast the following morning, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

That night, after dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

The following morning, we ended up running 15 minutes late. Everyone was in the car, except for Justin….who was still brushing his teeth…again!

Thanks to Garrett’s “Cavity Calamity,” Justin has brushed his teeth more times over the past 6 weeks than he has in his entire life!

gUM2“Daddy?” Justin asked politely, with his puppy-dog eyes and his hands folded in prayer. “You need to get some money so we can go to the store and get Nunchucks!”

Unfortunately, my first thought was “CCCCCCOOOOOLLLLL! NUNCHUCKS!!!!” Then I realize that this request was coming from a 6 year old. “Um…Justin? Why do you need nunchucks?”

He looked at me quizzically and then clarified, “No, daddy. Not nunchucks. GumChucks!” I looked up at GWE and in our “I-don’t-need-to-speak-with-you-to-communicate-because-you-can-read-my-thoughts-clearly” mental conversation, I asked “What the hell is a GumChuck????”

GWE explained that while at the mall, Justin found a dental flossing kit aimed at children. It’s called “GumChucks.” According to the pamphlet, it’s:

1) Easier and faster to use than dental floss. (I doubt that.)

2) Handles are better than wrapping floss around fingers. (Uh, no! I prefer to lose circulation in the tip of my fingers like my father and my father’s father, etc.)

3) Removes plaque from gum tissue. (So do doggy treats, but I’m not giving those to my kid either!)

4) And, they are portable and convenient. (But, not as portable and convenient as actual dental floss!!)

The only way GWE could get out of the store with Justin was to explain that she would email “Doctor Papa and Grandma” in Atlanta to see if they would buy it for him. Doctor Papa is a Dentist and Grandma is a Dental Hygienist (among other things.) GWE put together a very sweet email and sent it to my parents asking them for the item. She included me on the email. I saw it and laughed because I knew exactly how this was going to play out.

After 18 years of living with my parents (and another 18 years of comparing notes with my sister about her 18 years of living with our parents), it was time for my wife to witness the “Mixed Message” style of parenting my sister and I were exposed to. (Mom and Dad – I love you very much, but Shayna and I have spent years laughing about things like this.)

My father responded first: “I never saw the gumchucks ad you sent to me. I would let mommy show you how to use regular  “grown-up” dental floss. I think it is just as good if not better.” That was code for “No.” (But, in all fairness, my father has become much more diplomatic with his responses over the years.)

My mother responded next: “Done – !!!!  Nothing is too good for my grandson!!!!!”

That was two weeks ago. Have we gotten “GumChucks” yet?

Nope.

Justin has inquired about his Gumchucks a few times and as I’ve explained to him, it’s possible that they were intercepted in the mail by “Ninja Vitis” and/or “Count Plaqula!” He’s been perfectly content with that explanation.

I was not kidding about Garrett’s ability to play “Hide and Seek.” If you thought I was joking, see below:

MOGWE (Mother of Greatest Wife Ever): We were celebrating Father’s Day in our backyard. Garrett ran around the corner of our house and out of view. So, I went to see where he was. He was nowhere in sight. (it’s all fenced) I called out his name and this is what I saw a second later…….

Hiding

Snuggle1A few weeks ago, Garrett was miserable. He had a runny nose, terrible cough, and (after a quick doctor’s visit) we discovered that he had an ear infection in his right ear. He was not happy! GWE and I did the best we could to handle the situation, but a cold is a cold and at some point there is not much a parent can do but simply hold your ailing child and wait for the medicine to “kick in.” Justin knew that his brother wasn’t feeling well, so he decided to stay away.

In an effort to give Justin his own time, I decided to pick up him up from school one afternoon and take him out to dinner – just the two of us. We found ourselves at the mall. While wandering around looking for a place to eat, we found ourselves in front of a “Build-A-Bear” store. I was expecting Justin to turn towards me and ask if he could have a toy. To my surprise (and shock), Justin did turn to me, but instead he said “We need to make Garrett a teddy bear so he’ll feel better.” I could not argue with that logic.

Justin took it upon himself to create the perfect teddy bear for his brother. I just sat back and watched. He chose the style (a rabbit), the type of “heart” that went inside, the clothes, and a pair of sunglasses. Finally, when he was ready to stuff the bear, the attendant asked him if he wanted anything else put inside. She then showed him a recorder that would allow him to record his own voice. All Garrett would have to do is push the rabbit’s paw and Justin’s voice would play. He loved the idea and recorded: “Hi Garrett. It’s me – Justin! I hope you enjoy this bunny rabbit! I hope you love it! Bye!”

And then, the final decision needed to be made. What do we name him? After careful consideration, debate, and the flip of a coin – Justin chose “Snuggle McMugglepants.”

Snuggle2

The following morning, Justin presented Garrett with his new gift. Garrett looked at it for a moment and then tackled it out of excitement. Then, Justin activated the recorder and Garrett froze when he heard Justin’s voice coming from the rabbit. He wasn’t sure what to think. After the recording ended, Garrett resumed his “attack” of the rabbit and tried to eat its face!

I suppose that means he liked it!

GenXDaddy Meets Santa and his Helper!

Last week, I wrote about “Being Santa Claus” – a wonderful book about Sal Lizard’s journey as Santa Claus. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go get it!

Today, I got to meet Santa himself!! He (along with Jon and Jayden Lane) stopped by for a visit after his appearance on KTLA’s morning show. We had a great chat and he promised to put in a good word for me with Chanukah Harry for next year!

Hey Santa – I’m going to hold you to that! You don’t want to get on GenXDaddy’s “Naughty List!!”