I picked Paolo up from school yesterday, opened a bag of gummy fruit bites for his snacking pleasure, and began to fight my way back down a busy street at rush hour. Less than a minute into this endeavor, I heard Paolo say, "Ewww. Here, Mama." I reached my hand back and he dropped his pedo-partial, covered in chunks of blue mush, into my palm. Paolo's partial (which replaced his top two front teeth) is glued in; it is not supposed to come out, except at the dentist's office, with a special tool. Damn. Damn. Damn. I quickly checked to see if the bands had snapped, which happened to his first partial, converting a $500 denture into trash. Luckily, apart from its hideous appearance, the partial was intact. The stickiness of the snack must have pulled it right out. What a relief; it just needs to be glued back in. You see, we have no plans to spring for a third pedo-partial. Paolo would just have to live with an Arkansas smile until his permanent teeth come in. My thoughts returned to Paolo. Gosh, I thought to myself, he's taking this well.
Then the back seat started screaming. GROSS! EWWWW! AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH! MY TEETH ARE GONE!!
I tried to break through the wails of terror. "No, honey, they're not gone. They're right here." And I held up the U-shaped wire dripping in goo so he could see his blue-tinged, lonely-looking front teeth. That was a bad idea. The screams got even louder and he started thrashing around in his car seat. Trapped in the left lane in bumper-to-bumper traffic, there wasn't a thing I could do to comfort him except slip one shoulder out of joint to reach a hand back to pat his knee. Eventually he stopped screaming and wept pitifully the rest of the way home.
The Great Dental Disaster of '05 happened over a year ago, and Paolo simply doesn't remember that his front teeth aren't real. Just imagine if, unbeknownst to you, you had a prosthetic body part. And one day it fell off.