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Vn47.1 Losing a Tooth 7/20/77

Miriam lost her first baby tooth today. The fact is easily stated,
but to show how Miriam considers this a watershed defining event in her
life requires some elaboration. About a month ago, Miriam visited the
dentist. The occasion was the existence of a small abscess above a dead
tooth (both her top front teeth were killed by a fall she took 2 years
ago). Our dentist in Connecticut had warned us to look for signs of
abnormal eruption when the deciduous teeth should fall and advised us
to see a dentist at once should such a thing occur. An X-ray made
clear that the development was normal, and the dentist predicted, in
response to Miriam’s query, that she should lose some of her teeth
very soon.

In kindergarten a log had been kept of who had lost how many teeth,
and each tooth had become a local event, cause for discussing the exis-
tence of the tooth fairy and her munificence in exchanging money for
ejected teeth. Miriam had felt herself lagging behind her peers and
was overjoyed at the assurance her time had come. At that point, Miriam
began worrying her teeth and showing how loose they were.

It was otherwise with Robby. Some two years ago his first tooth
came out and was launched into the world with this gripe: “Hey, I’ve
got a gristle in this banana!” This family story led Miriam to the
frequent observation “If my tooth comes out now I’m going to have a
gristle in my potato,” or chewing gum or whatever. After a month of
such repetitions, she pushed the tooth over and pulled it out with her
fingers.

Having told everyone she met today how good it was that her tooth
came out, Miriam came to see me when ready for bed, just wearing the shorts
from her pyjamas. With a big smile, she said, “Daddy, I’m really a big
girl now,” and pulled in her stomach. “See!” Surprised at first, I
caught on: “Oh, your boobs are getting big now, too?” Miriam laughed
and said, “Yeah!”

Bob

No, sweetheart. You’ll have to wait til you’re about 12.
Miriam

(Surprised and a little disappointed) Oh.

Relevance
This vignette shows a small event, losing a tooth, in the focus of
a protracted and persistent concern. Losing the first tooth is to Miriam
a sign that she is no longer a baby but on the verge of woman-hood.

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