We’ve reached a key parenting milestone: the last baby tooth. Last week I managed to get a glimpse inside Rowan’s laughing mouth and saw it: the top, left, two-year-old molar, half emerged. I thought he’d been little grumpy.
When he was eight months old and cutting his first tooth, waking screaming, inconsolable in the night, I remember my own panic and despair, at the thought of this helplessness multiplied by 20 teeth. According to my calculations, he’d never not be teething, never not be this unpredictable, screaming, drooling bundle with bright red cheeks. I’m pretty sure that’s when we became big advocates of the Children’s Advil, with interim doses of Tempra. And gin.
And, like pretty much everything else I’ve despaired over thus far with parenting, the teeth arrived more or less just fine. Some were cause for wakeful nights, multiple nursing sessions in the rocker. Some popped out like popcorn, two and three at a time, with barely a cranky moment to show for the effort. “Hey,” one of the other of us would say, “I think he’s got another one.” As he transitioned from the grab-everything-and-stick-it-in-my-mouth baby stage to the toddler who refused to open his mouth when we asked, it became a guessing game. “Can you tell?” “Nope, can’t see a thing.”
And now, we’re done. Just like we’re done worrying about whether we’ll ever sleep again (until, that is, this babe in utero is born; I keep telling myself that we’ll have more perspective this time around), read a novel again, see a movie again, feel well rested. Just like we’ll be done diapers, kindergarten, high school. (The gin was for us, just in case you were worried.)
Now that Rowan has 20 teeth, big kid that he is, he wants to use them. Fortunately, most of the time he wants to talk about using them, although we’ve both been nipped now, and some of the furniture is suffering. Yesterday morning, it was my turn to sleep in (another luxury that will disappear for a while once we have two), and as I lay in bed I could hear bits of conversation between Rowan Rachel downstairs:
“I want to bite Mommy.”
“No, no biting Mommy.”
“I bite other Mommy.”
“No Rowan, no biting other Mommy. Just kissing, not biting.” Pause. “Oh, thank you for my kiss. What a nice kiss. No biting couch.”
Later that evening, we were having one of those “Rowan is going to be a big brother” conversations. Currently, he thinks he’s going to have a sister, and her name is going to be Jack.
“When you’re a big brother,” Rachel asked him, “what are you going to do with the baby?”
We went through some of the options: big brothers play with the baby, read to the baby, pat the baby gently on the head, sing to the baby, show the baby trains.
“Bite the baby?” asked Rowan.
Our current anti-biting strategy is to sit him down firmly on his butt and tell him, “No biting!” before walking away. I’ll get back to you on whether it works. This, too, will pass. Until then, pass the Tempra.