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Natural Selection

Maybe it was a middle child thing.

Maybe it was a subtle effort to thin the herd.

Natural selection.

She naturally selected the child who had to go.

And she did it with such an innocent angel face.

The hour before bedtime takes only second place to the hour before dinner time as the most cringe-worthy, wretched time of day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

The kids are by turn, grumpy, hyper, whiny, messy, and clingy.

And that includes the Hubby.

I was just hanging on for fifteen more minutes.

I’m telling you. If you ever want to bless a mother, give her sleep.

This particular evening, five kids were running amok in the den, clean, fed, and jammied up, in direct defiance of the upcoming bedtime.

These weren’t little toddlers, these peeps went from kindergarten through high school.

But fifteen minutes of free time in a whole day must be used to full potential.

Middle child was lounging on the sofa, fiddling with a long pink scarf.

She dangled it over the back of the couch, and said, “Here, fishy fishy fishy!”

Low man on the totem pole, and eager to be included youngest child, decided to be the fish.

Of course.

Up to the bait crawled Little Man.

He obligingly bit the end of the scarf.

And middle child reeled him in.

The girl’s no rookie.

She knows if you don’t yank the line and set the hook, your fish gets away.

With a mighty yank, the scarf whipped right out of the fish’s mouth.

Along with it came one of the fish’s front teeth, sailing across the room and hitting the wall with a tiny “plink”.

Everyone took a collective inhale.

I came running as the screaming began.

Everyone in the room was screaming but Little Man.

It took a minute to register the blood pouring from his mouth, his puzzled face, and the horrified looks of the witnesses.

Across the room was a single bloody tooth.

In his mouth was his other front tooth, wobbling half in and half out.

This is not a job for sissies.

And you’d better believe I already had our family dentist on speed dial.

We plopped the rogue tooth into a cup of milk. I placed a wet ice-filled cloth on Little Man’s mouth. Hubby cleaned up the blood and sent everyone to bed.

Our dentist, bless his big, expensive heart, answered his emergency line from a family dinner in a restaurant somewhere. I explained the situation in a slightly high-pitched voice.

This wonderful man met me a half hour later at his dark, closed offices and plopped Little Man into a giant exam chair.

He was kind and gentle and patient.

Little Man held my hand and waited like a champ for 45 minutes while the dentist removed his last front tooth and dug around, making sure there were no leftover bits of tooth in his poor mangled gums.

We weren’t charged for this.

Years of loyalty from a big family, maybe.

Possibly we had already paid for his family dinner out.

Now you know why Little Man is missing his front teeth in every photo for four years straight.

And why middle child is smiling like that.

She is still pretty certain that three children was plenty and enough.

But let’s all be glad Little Man tops her by a good eight inches today.

Who’s the fishy now?

Published inLiving Larger

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