Among the many gifts that God has bestowed on Toyna, includes a set of rare white milk teeth. While all of us have had milk teeth when we were small, Toynas milk teeth are rare because they are so strong that none of them fall off on their own. They start shaking, shaking, shaking one fine day. We wait for weeks and sometimes months, and then finally go and get them extracted with the dentist to make room for the new tooth that is already on it’s way out.
She was petrified of the dentist the first couple of times. Then she slowly started taking the whole procedure in her stride. (Read Tooth Fairy Part I, and Tooth Fairy Part II related to these two phases.) But yesterday, she graduated to the next level of dentist phobia – she tried to become the dentist herself.
The latest front lower tooth had been shaking for about two months now. Given a very busy schedule at work, I have been postponing the dentist visit from one day to another. Every day, Toyna used to check to see if the teeth was going to fall on its own. Every day she would poke and push it a little, but to no avail. Yesterday night, she got so frustrated with the shaking tooth that she decided it was time for some serious action. She stood in front of the mirror and pulled and pulled at her tooth for one straight hour. She pulled lightly first, but as the tooth remained fixed, she started increasing the force bit by bit. Slowly blood started oozing out. I thought she would be scared on seeing the blood but on the contrary she got excited about it. She took it to mean that she was making progress.
She got some cotton balls to dab the blood and continued pulling. In between, she would stop and exclaim, “Mama! It is paining, that means that the tooth is loosing up! I will make sure this thing doesn’t stay in my mouth one more day!!” After a while as she would change the cotton soaked with blood, she would say, “Only Ganga is flowing, but why doesn’t this mountain move!”
I have been witness to many tooth extractions in the past to know that what Toyna was attempting to do was perfectly safe for her. However, what I was not prepared for was her perseverance and her capacity to bear pain in order to achieve her objective. The oozing blood did not scare her. The pain as the root refused to budge did not deter her. She had one single goal and that was to finish this task at hand. As she got tired of standing in front of the mirror, she went to her study and pulled a chair for her to sit and continue pulling.
I sat on my desk with my laptop, two feet away from her, pretending not to be focused on what she was doing. But honestly, all my attention was on this little girl, who had somehow grown so big to be able to inflict this pain on herself. I did not encourage her, or try and stop her. I just wanted to see how far she would go.
Soon it was 11 PM and the tooth, although barely holding on, was still there. Toynas body was tired. Her eyes were wet with frustration, but she had not yet decided to give up. I stepped in at this time and suggested that we take a break for today. We can ask the dentist to help us close whatever little was left of the tooth. She reluctantly agreed and I wrapped her up for bed.
As I came back to sit on the table, my eyes fell on the red cotton lying on my table. This was the second time in life that I realized that Toyna is capable of moving forward in spite of immense physical pain, just based on her sheer determination. I pray that she continues to tap into this strength as she moves ahead in life. She is a fighter and given this strength she is bound to win.
And since I might not always be around to remind her of her strengths, I choose to write these blogs. I hope that she uses these someday to remember her Mom and understand why her Mom was really really proud of her.
P.S. We did get tooth extracted today. As per the doctor it was already almost out. He had to just bend it a little and it came out.
Read more about the first instance of her fighter spirit.