This a little story/memoir about bullies and the time my young son broke a front tooth.
| The Broken Tooth
knows one – or was one. But, ah!
revenge can be sweet!
When my son was little, maybe in the second or third grade, he liked to ride his bicycle out in the street. We live on a very private street, no traffic to speak of, so it has become the playground for the kids in the neighborhood. I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's the way it was.
One day he was out riding his bike with the boy across the street and another boy who lived on the next street over. Both boys were a few years older than my son, so I normally kept a close eye on him when he was out playing with them. This day, though, I had to take care of something, and the boys all seemed to be playing together well, so I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to what they were doing. I should have. The two older boys started teasing my son, riding circles around him, and calling him names.
After a little while, my son came into the house, holding his mouth. "Look what happened," he said, as he held out the broken piece of tooth to me, and showed me the snaggled little piece of tooth left in his mouth. This wasn't a baby tooth, of course, it was one of his teeth that he would have for the rest of his life. I started to cry and scream ohmigod what happened, and generally panicked.
What flashed into my mind was the story my mother told so often about when she broke her two front teeth. She was skating, and when she showed her mother the broken teeth, her mother cried. That was a long time ago, though, and they didn't have the ways of fixing teeth like they do now, and she had to go all the way through school with two broken front teeth. Of course her classmates teased her about them, and it was something she was self-conscious about her whole life.
I didn't want that for my son. I wanted him to have nice strong beautiful teeth that were straight and white, and never had cavities. But here he was, holding the broken tooth in his little hand.
After I cried and hugged him and told him everything was going to be okay – even though he didn't even realize that anything bad had happened – I gained my composure and called our family dentist. It was the end of the day, and he was just getting ready to leave. "Please," I pleaded. "Please, you've got to help him. The nerve is exposed and it's bleeding and I don't what to do except bring him up to you."
He agreed, so I took my son and we drove up the hill to the dentist's office. His assistant had also agreed to stay late, and so while I waited in a chair in the corner, the two of them worked on my son's tooth. The dentist said it wasn't broken out all the way, and thought he could just put a cap on it. He then proceeded to get out all his magic potions and started to work on the tooth. After about an hour, he showed me a front tooth that looked perfectly normal. "Now don't bite down on it for a little while," he said, "and it might be a little sensitive after the Novocaine wears off, but you should be fine."
The next day my son came home as usual, but the cap was off his tooth.
"What happened,?" I asked.
"I don't know, it just fell off."
I was all concerned again, and angry that the dentist hadn't done a better job. I called the dentist again, and up we went to his office. He took a look, and explained that perhaps there really hadn't been enough tooth left for the cap to adhere to.
"It will stay this time," he promised, and he and his assistant spent about another hour working on his tooth. When he was done you couldn't tell it had ever been broken at all. The dentist stepped back and admired his work. "Looks just like the other tooth," he said proudly. "You shouldn't have any problems with it for a long time."
That was at least twenty years ago, and it still looks as good as when the dentist first fixed it. (I went to see the same dentist a little while ago, and I asked him if he remembered the incident. He said he did, and when I told him that my son still had the same cap on his tooth, the dentist could hardly believe it. Ten years, usually – maybe fifteen – but over twenty? He was absolutely amazed.)
A couple of days after the tooth incident, I called both boy's mothers to tell them what had happened. I wasn't looking for them to pay for getting his tooth fixed or anything, I just felt that they should know what had happened. My neighbor from across the street was very sorry, and said she would talk to her son about what had happened.
The other mother was not nearly as nice, though. She told me that her son had told her that my son was being a nuisance - that my son wanted to play with the older boys. When they wouldn't let him, he had run his bike into her son's bike on purpose, because he was mad. She wasn't the least bit concerned that my son's tooth had been broken, and said that if my son couldn't keep up with the older boys, perhaps he shouldn't be playing with them.
Year's later, those two boys graduated from high school, and started their adult lives. The boy from across the street was an industrious young man, if not particularly studious, and he soon had his own electrical contractor business. And what about the other boy, the one whose mother was so quick to place the blame on someone else? I'm not sure what he did, but the last I heard of him, he was in jail.