Autism & Emma’s Loose Tooth

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post, Emma yanked her tooth out at some point in the movie theatre as we watched Hoodwinked Too this past Sunday.  I don’t know when, all I know is that when we proceeded out of the theatre into the light of early evening, I looked over at her and saw the gaping bloody hole in her gum once occupied by a tooth, her lower left incisor, to be exact.

“Oh my gosh, Em.  What happened to your tooth?”  I asked.

“Pulled out your tooth!” She said happily, bouncing up and down.

“I can see that.  But where is it?  Where did you put your tooth?”

“You threw it.  In the movie theatre, yeah,” Emma said, nodding her head up and down.

“God, Emma.  I can’t believe you just chucked it,” Nic said, no doubt thinking of the money she had essentially just tossed away, being well versed in the ways of the “tooth fairy.”

As a quick aside here, Nic caught on to the whole tooth fairy thing years ago.  “Mom, you can stop telling me about the tooth fairy.  I’m not stupid,” he said to me several years ago.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Nic,” I said, feigning shock.

“I know you and dad sneak into my room at night,” he pantomimed tiptoeing like a cat burglar with an evil expression on his face as he said this,  “and leave money.”  He looked at me, but I kept my face blank.  Exasperated he said triumphantly, “You guys are the tooth fairy!”  He said this with the kind of flourish one might expect from Hercule Poirot or Columbo as they sum up a particularly tricky mystery.  Okay, I’m dating myself, but you get the picture.

“You threw it!”  Emma said, evidently pleased with herself.

I looked over at Richard who shrugged and kept walking.

“I think we have three of her teeth.  All the others are on the floor of various school buses and now the floor of the movie theatre,” I said.

“I think there’s one somewhere in the vicinity of the Central Park carousel,” Richard added, thoughtfully.

“She’s never really taken to the whole tooth fairy concept,” I said.

“Yeah, right,” Nic laughed and rolled his eyes.

In fairness to Emma, it is an odd concept, one we tried to explain to her when her first baby tooth looked as though it might come out soon.

“So Em, when your tooth comes out you have to save it, okay?” I said, kneeling down so I was eye level to her.

She ignored me.

“And you give it to Mommy, okay?  We’ll put it under your pillow and the tooth fairy will come and take it and leave you money,” I said, realizing how bizarre this sounded to someone who takes things literally and has no concept of money, before I’d even finished.  “Okay, Em?”  I asked as she squirmed away from me.

Later that day the tooth was gone, where she put it we have no idea.  As with all of Emma’s teeth, there is a ruthless quality to her handling of her baby teeth.  They become loose and she will often say, “Pull it out!”  I’m never sure if that’s a direct request, though she did ask Joe once, about a year ago, but he refused.  The next time  I notice the tooth, it is inevitably gone.  How she manages to yank it out, without us knowing, without a sound or cry of pain, is one of the many mysteries of all things Emma.  The way she experiences pain is exemplified in all those missing teeth.  I can still remember the agony of loosing my baby teeth, the days of pain I would endure.  Emma, apparently feels none of this.

“Tooth missing!” she exclaimed  when she returned home from school yesterday.  She opened her mouth and pointed at the place her tooth once inhabited.  “You threw it!”  Then she laughed and jumped up and down.  “You threw it in the movie theatre!”  She laughed, whipping her plastic velcro strip around her head like a lasso.

Emma wielding her plastic strip

For more on Emma’s tolerance for pain and her continuing journey through a childhood of autism go to:

3 responses to “Autism & Emma’s Loose Tooth

  1. Nic has to put up with an awful lot of nonsensical “believers” in his family, and I know whereof I speak, as I’m one of them. I have always refused to budge from my firmly held belief in Santa Claus. And so for Christmas Nic painted me a picture of the New York cityscape with Santa Claus, his sleigh and reindeer zooming over the skyscrapers.

    He said:, “Granma, I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I know you do, so I put him into my picture for you.”

    As you know it is one of my prize possessions and hangs in such a position that I can see it first thing in the morning when entering the kitchen, and last thing at night when leaving.

    To Emma, too, tooth-fairies and Santa Claus are obvious fictions having no meaning in the world of reality that she lives in. They have no reality in Nic’s world either, but in Granma’s world it’s the stories we tell that count, even your story about Emma smacks of the presence of angels somewhere, hovering, guarding, caring and loving.


    • Last night Emma chose Alice in Wonderland as the book she wanted me to read to her, in preference to Wild Critters From Colorado. So you never know. Fantasy may be in her blood after all!

  2. Pingback: The Gift of a Molar | Aspen Post

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