On Sunday morning, I was awakened by my eight year old in his usual style: climbing on top of me and pulling my hair. He keeps doing it, because despite my best efforts to get him to stop, it works every time. It's hard to sleep while someone is trying to give you a haircut using their fists.
He gave me that wide goofy grin that makes my heart flutter and lets him get away with...anything.
Except on this particular morning, his giant toothy smile was short one tooth.
Not a big deal usually, since eight year olds are known to lose their baby teeth for more durable and ridiculously disproportionate permanent ones.
But I didn't even know this particular tooth was loose.
And he of course, didn't tell me. It just peacfully ended its existance in the middle of the night and he must have swallowed it; that's four out of five now that have made their way down his esophagus instead of inside an envelope.
The whole thing happened so quietly. The requisite wiggling and dramatic updates on a loose tooth's status that occur each time Superman goes through this childhood milestone weren't there.
In fact, Monchichi didn't notice it was missing at all. He just looked up at me, his head cocked to one side as I stared at the empty space where the tooth used to be, wondering how long it was loose, upset that I hadn't noticed in the first place.
Maybe it was because I was so sick this weekend. Or maybe it was because I'm overwhelmed about some personal realizations I have come to in the last few weeks. Or maybe it was just because I didn't want to go through the motions of pretending that he was going to understand something so abstract this time and that I could force some normalcy down our throats even when it tastes bitter and....wrong.
Whatever the reasons were, I went against Typical Mom Protocal, and didn't invite the tooth fairy to come celebrate tooth #5. There were no fake notes under his pillow in the morning, or crumpled dollar bills. There were no special treats to signal the departure of this renegade tooth.
I. Just. Couldn't. Do. It.
And it doesn't matter why, I guess.
We are on a journey, as parents of this very special little boy, where the road often winds around decisions that bear huge consequences. For him, and for us. And I have, over the years, taken many detours along the way in the hopes that I can guide him towards some more average experiences....the kind that don't come with major side effects and that require cheesy fictional characters and some imagination. But here I am, denying him the tooth fairy; and I think I may be sort of okay with that.
Because I'm sort of tired.
EVERYTHING is harder because of him.
It sucks to see that in print.
But it's so true..
And sometimes, it's all I have in me, to just get us to the dinner table, coax some calories into his mouth, and bathe the missed goals of the day right off of him.
Sometimes, it's all I have in me not to give in to the dark side, the side that wants me to fail and fluster, to say I'm not strong enough to endure this special needs life and that I never will be.
Sometimes, it's all I have in me not to get on top of the nearest table and shout "Hey everyone!! Look at me! I'm a big faker! I don't have it all together! I'm petrified on the inside! I have no idea what the hell I'm doing! I'm smiling only because if I don't, I may begin to feel the shards of glass that have wedged themselves inside my soul and then the truth will come out that I. Am. Scared."
So here I dwell today, somewhere between "Oh Mary*, you look great; how's little Marcus? and "Oh Mary, how 'bout you f#!$ off and die."
I suppose it's up to you whether you want to stick around and see how it plays out.
Friday Monchichi will be admitted to our local children's hospital and will be put under general anethesia for what most people consider a typical dental visit. Think of him, would you? We have a great team of doctors and I trust them (to an extent), but ultimately God is in charge and I'm hoping to catch him on a good day.
And maybe, just maybe, the tooth fairy will understand why I didn't summon her this weekend and will leave our copay under the pillow.
*Mary is a fictional character. Though that is my mother-in-law's name. But I'm not talking about her. This time.*