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#a42 :: Baby tooth

March 26, 2008

032608.jpg“Until you have kids, remedy you’ll never understand.”

That’s what my fuckup-addict high school classmate and ex-best-friend once said (after he accidentally fathered his second child by a woman he didn’t love, drug after he burned every last bridge but one between us. But before he ended his pain one dark night by steering himself into the high-speed, ampoule head-on crash that killed him).

It was the truest thing Scott ever said – even if whatever he had snorted, injected or drunk at the moment completely obliterated the real context of the statement.

Eight years after my son was born, I understand so much – including the knowledge that the more I understand, the less I realize I know …

This fell out of my son’s head yesterday afternoon.

We soaked it in bleach to kill the bacteria.

We gave it back.

He put it into a candy tin.

He stuffed the tin under his pillow.

The Tooth Fairy stole it away and left $3.

And now it’s on my little photo stage – so tiny and packed with meaning I can barely stand to photograph it.

There, blown up to a nasty, grainy level of detail, are all the tooth-parts they drummed into our heads in Health class from first grade: The crown, the enamel, the pulp, the yawning hollow where the root let go.

There, almost smaller than the stone in my wife’s engagement ring, is the tiny chunk of bone my son spent the first year of his life growing, the next seven chewing down, the last 4 weeks shoving out of his mouth with a new, “adult” tooth.

There it sits the sort of thing that fell out of my mouth at regular intervals, decades ago. The little artifact of the tiny rite of passage, the talisman of aging, the proof of growth. From the mouth of my own son, who came from my own wife, who was made to bear him by my own love and hers.

I could almost fall into it and disappear.

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, symbol | Comments (0)

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