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Stay-At-Home Dad: When a loss is a good thing

BubbLudwig shows off his new smile along with his $10 bounty from Tooth Fairy.  |  Howard Ludwig~For Sun-Times

Bubba Ludwig shows off his new smile along with his $10 bounty from the Tooth Fairy. | Howard Ludwig~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:16AM



“I’ve got some news I think you’re going to like,” my 6-year-old son announced last week.

“Loose tooth,” Bubba said, after pausing for dramatic effect. He then grabbed his lower front tooth and wiggled it slightly.

“Wow!” I exclaimed.

This was big news. And his 4-year-old brother immediately wandered over to inspect his mouth. Peter was equally fascinated and disappointed that this milestone was likely a year or so away for him.

Much of the attention over the next three days focused on this increasingly dangling tooth. The whole affair allowed me to revisit the event through my son’s wide eyes. This is one of the great benefits of being a parent — reliving such forgotten moments through your children.

For example, I had forgotten that losing teeth is the first major body change that comes with growing up. Long before puberty produces armpit hair and faint mustaches, “baby teeth” fall out. God forbid, you’re one of the last ones clinging to those tiny teeth. And everyone else is sporting a jack-o’-lantern smile.

Shortly after losing their teeth, children are rewarded with a mouthful of adult-size choppers. But most still have child-size heads. The combination of big teeth and a small head is an awkward look for at least a year or so.

Bubba pushed his tooth back and forth with his tongue for two days. Watching him, I remembered that slight tugging of a loose tooth. Each push hurts a little bit. You might even taste a little blood. But like a persistent itch, you just can’t leave it alone.

Bub’s tooth finally fell out in a movie theater. It was during the previews of “Wreck-It Ralph” that Bubba held out his hand showing me an untethered tooth. He held it with gentle care, like a flawless diamond.

The tooth was carefully wrapped in a paper napkin. The conversation on the ride home was evenly split between rehashing the movie and theories on the Tooth Fairy’s system of payment.

Bubba tucked his tooth beneath his pillow that evening. He also declared an end to thumb sucking. I’m betting that this nervous habit led to the loose tooth. I’ll also bet that it was a visit to the dentist just days before that prompted such a bold declaration.

After the boys went to bed, The Wife and I discussed the value of a tooth. We decided that a first tooth was worth $10. From then on, the value of teeth declines sharply, bottoming out at about $2 each. I had hinted earlier to Bubba that this would be the case. He seemed to grasp the concept of dental depreciation.

I snuck upstairs later that evening to snatch the tooth. Bubba was sleeping in a position that looked like he’d been thrown from a motorcycle. His head and arms were hanging off the bed. Only his butt and legs seemed to be on the mattress. I was tempted to move him into a more comfortable position. But I hesitated, knowing that such a shift could wake him up and spoil the illusion.

The next morning, Bubba and Peter sprung out of bed. The $10 bill was a welcome surprise. The cash was gone by the time the weekend rolled around, spent on some tiny toy.

Hopefully, the memory of losing his first tooth will stick. But if it doesn’t, perhaps Bubba can relive the experience through his children.

Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.

He can be reached at howardaludwig@yahoo.com.



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