I've been lazy about posting this week because we've been busy – sitting down and spitting out words has been as difficult as pulling teeth. Just didn’t want to do it. Had lots of papers to grade but didn’t feel like breaking out the pen and slashing away at the students’ work. Had a dentist appointment today but I didn’t want to go (hate, hate, hate the dentist!). It was a bad week for J in getting to school in the morning which made me dread waking up, too. There was a lot of homework for A which made me dread the kids coming home from school. M was great this week, though. She was a doll actually, which made me not want to ship her off to school.
The usual I suppose.
After the dentist appointment this morning, I had lunch with my grandmother and my sister. While eating, we got onto the subject of loose teeth. M has a couple of them and these teeth are really hanging on. We keep wiggling them but still they sit, rooted in.
Sister asked me, "Why don't you just pull them? Try with your fingers."
I shuddered, "I can't – can’t cause them any sort of pain that way. Can't pull teeth, can't clip fingernails, and I can't pluck eyebrows because I can't stand the sensation of plucking skin."
"I remember having a conversation about you with my friend – she and I are like monkeys, constantly grooming our children."
"But pulling teeth?"
"My kids pull their own teeth. You should see AH! Six years old and yanking the tooth out like a real Amazon woman.”
“Mine, too. The boys totally pulled their own teeth.”
“We really should use pliers,” Sister said. “Not even wait for the teeth to get loose.”
“Like Mommy did with us!”
We cackled, laughing a bit hysterically.
My grandmother chimed in, “Your mother did that because she inherited the ability to treat a human body without fear. My father used to remove bullets from the troops without blinking an eye.”
“But Mama Nana, we weren’t soldiers in the Mexican Revolution on the front line, we were her CHILDREN. She was…masochistic.”
“No, no,” I clarified, “She was a SADIST.”
“’Just hold on to the chair, mija!’” Sister mimicked herself as a child, holding the sides of the chair and screaming.
I laughed and shook my head, “What chair, she held me down in her arms and pulled those babies out with everything she had. I swear to GOD, my teeth weren’t loose.”
We laughed while my grandmother gnawed on a large roll. “I ruined my torta,” she said, her tone one of aggravation. “Shouldn’t have put it in the microwave. I could loose teeth on this.”
She didn’t want to hear us mocking our mother, shaking her head at us while we still chuckled and looked at each other in disbelief.
“But Mama Nana,” Sister said, “Our teeth weren’t loose.” She had such an expression of horror that I burst out laughing again, much to the chagrin of Mama Nana.
What can I say? It’s mostly true – the teeth she pulled those few times were somewhat loose. I have a particular memory of being in my mother’s arms on a chair in our old house on Holliston in Pasadena, tasting the metal of the pliers, and screaming like mad as she worked to get a tooth out. She pulled it out all right, smiling and waving the pliers about, “See? Not so bad, eh?”
The weird part is I cannot remember the pain. I know I felt it, why else would I be screaming? Granted, it could have been fear, the anticipation of pain that never came. Or the pain was so mild, I forgot about it. Or maybe it simply is a natural inability to recall physical pain. Have I written about this before? Sounds familiar. My mother used to say that women forget the pain of childbirth which is why they go on to have more children. If we could recreate in our head physical pain, the world would have fewer people.
Mama Nana finished her ruined torta, and we finished our remembrance of pulled teeth. I packed my bags and left to pick up A. After I shuttled A home, I turned back around and checked J out of school early in order to prevent him from slipping away after school under the guise of, “I forgot I was grounded.” I felt good about it…rather sneaky. I had warned him that if he was late again to school, he’d lose the computer and his friends for two days. I knew I surprised him and he even said, “Did you do this to stop me from going with my friends?”
“You bet your bippy, I did.”
“What’s a bippy?”
“I have no idea but you better not go looking for any.”
“I was kidding. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was just kidding.” He smiled hugely.
“Yeah, sure you were.” I smiled back at him and hugged him. “You little brat.”
You know, writing this wasn’t quite as bad as pulling teeth.