Monday, October 13, 2014

Comfort me with apples

Teething sucks. I can’t remember my own, but so far as I can tell from my 15-month-old son, it ranks right up there with stomach flu in the “fun” department. Poor baby; he first began sleeping soundly through the night at 6 weeks, and I distinctly recall our naive hope that we could all just take up residence in the Land of Uninterrupted Dreams. Little did we suspect that the teething demons would swoop down and steal our collective slumber away for weeks—nay, months!—on end. In fact, I would venture to say that it has been one year since our teething troubles began. A full year! And do you know how many teeth Babykins has to show for it? Four and two halves, minus a chip. Sigh.

Gnarly teeth run in my family. After five years of braces, a pretty unpleasant headgear episode, and numerous visits to the oral surgeon, I have exactly 24 of them left in my mouth, as opposed to the standard 32. My husband, on the other hand, has these tiny little naturally straight teeth, so I was kinda hoping our son would inherit his chompers from THAT end of the gene pool. Alas, reality seems to have chosen otherwise.

Yours truly at age 13.* Note large teeth and nascent patriotism.

I had no idea that teething would take so damn long. If it were up to me, they’d all just come in at once and we could move on to losing sleep over something else. But it’s one of the universal “joys” of babyhood, so we may as well accept it. Yet judging from certain third party reactions, one might think that teething is some rare disease. We’ve been told on multiple occasions by well-meaning folks with the utmost gravity in their voices, “Votre fils a très mal aux dents” (your son’s teeth really hurt). To which I always reply with an “indeed” and one of those nervous half-laughs I do when I’m totally uncomfortable. What am I supposed to say? “REALLY? Is that what those white things in his mouth are?” “Should we have him hospitalized?” “Do they make children’s morphine in France?”

But tonight, while we were celebrating Monday with our traditional apéritif du lundi, I stumbled haphazardly upon a surprising source of comfort. Baby was in his high chair, an array of strategically-chosen toys at his disposal, yet still doing that glass-shattering wail he does when we aren’t personally entertaining him—adult conversations at our home these days are a creative mix of shouting and lip-reading—when I had a revelation: give him an apple. And you know what? It worked like a mute button! He didn’t utter a peep for the next hour. Perfectly content, he gnawed that thing into oblivion, barely allowing me a chance to remove the stem and seeds before it all went down the hatch. And then he went and fell fast asleep without a fuss, and is still dozing peacefully—truly a rare, write-this-down phenomenon!

Perhaps as a nod to his mother’s country roots, that apple may have been just what his poor, sore little gums needed. And here I was loading him up on teething rings, tamarind gum paste, homeopathic moon drops and the like. How’s that parental learning curve going...?

*Photo by Bill Benson