Monday, January 28, 2013

Dad: Shark Baby

If my daughter ever learns her first curse word, it’ll be when I’m checking her mouth for new teeth. The only way to do it is to stick your index finger in there and feel around to see what new sharp pointy things have popped up.
It wasn’t really an issue when she was younger, but now that she has seven teeth and is working on an eighth, she’s gotten a bit…bitey. My wife has deemed this a "dad job" because, as she reminds me any time I try to argue that it's her turn to do something, she did push all 8 pounds, 12 ounces of Susan through her birth canal. 

Since Susan was born, I've worked hard to cut down on my cursing. I still do on occasion, mostly at the Panthers every Sunday, but no matter how hard I try to hold it in in front of my daughter, there’s just something about a 10-month-old clamping down on your cuticle with every bit of force her tiny jaws can muster that brings out the %$&@*#!$%@ in even the most clean-mouthed of parents.

Not even the Orbit lady can hold it in.

I don’t even want to go in there anymore because she’s apparently developed a taste for human skin. She opens her mouth easy enough, as if to say, “Sorry about that earlier. I won’t bite you this time. Promise,” and the next thing I know, I’ve got a set of jagged central incisors clamped onto the tip of my index finger and a salivating infant who is so happy that her eyes have rolled into the back of her head. She’s like that baby in the movie about the sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves except with parents who have more than one facial expression and don’t look like they’re going to poop themselves anytime somebody asks them a question.

I'm acting SO awesome right now you guys.

The safest way to treat teething in non-vampire children is to give the baby something to chew on. Apparently the pressure of biting down relieves some pain, which is one of the reasons why teething babies are always chewing on something or someone. What we’ve found helpful are cold teething rings. What Susan has found helpful are my fingers and other babies' ears (there was an incident at daycare). And since her teeth haven't yet become dulled by years of chewing on Jolly Ranchers and Gobstoppers, they can do a lot of damage.

“If you can’t keep your shark baby from eating you, then why do you have to check for new teeth so bad?” you may ask, because "you," whoever you are, obviously don't have children. Mary Jane and I need to know when the tooth has popped because it signals an end to what amounts to weeks of a fussy baby who doesn’t sleep well and is otherwise inconsolable because she’s in so much mouth pain. And we just HAVE to know when it's over. If we were in a Shakespearean play, it would be our tragic flaw and we'd both be giving dramatic death monologues in Act V, Scene ii, or next Wednesday night at around 7:30. (Yes, that was literary humor. I have to do something to offset the poop jokes.)

For the unitiated, just know that the teething process is slow and irritating since the tooth has to dig all the way through the gumline like a dull knife through a Golden Corral steak and when it's almost done, your baby is left with a piece of sharp bone sticking out of her mouth. Do you know what they call it when that happens in any other part of the body? A compound fracture.

Susan has been teething like a shark since she was five months old. While some babies near her age have one or two teeth, or in the case of some lucky parents none at all, Susan just cut number 7 (verified by my now-gashed index finger), and we’re pretty sure that number 8 is days away. That will give her all 4 central incisors (2 top and 2 bottom) and all 4 lateral incisors, or one more than Stu had in The Hangover. 

But until number 8 comes in, we have to keep checking and getting bit. After that, we get the joy of helping her get through molars and the eye teeth, which other parents and the internet describe as "the worst thing ever in the history of the world." But perhaps they're exaggerating a bit. All I know at this point is that Susan has 7 very sharp teeth, the biting strength of a small dinosaur and that she is, in fact, a carnivore. So enjoy this post because it may be the last I ever type with 10 fingers.

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