There’s probably a reason the words ‘tithing’ and ‘teething’ sound even remotely similar; I suspect the similarity has to do with pain. Pain is a contagious sort of thing. I think we’d like to assume that hurting when someone else hurts is the product of a maturing Christian heart, but really, if you think about it, we hurt all the time when other people hurt. Only usually, it’s for selfish, inconvenienced reasons. We hurt, for instance, when the checkout clerk lady at Walmart hurts. She’s had a bad day for some reason, someone snapped at her this morning maybe, or mispronounced her name, or told her she looked tired. So now she’s hurt, she’s mad at the world, and you’ve had the sad misfortune of getting into her line, her ach-ing-ly sloo…oow line that has become her weapon with which to punish the world. She hurts— we hurt. Thank you for that. Or, let’s just get to the point and take the 12month-old, sleeping in the next room. Yes that one, the one who seems to have a new tooth coming in every 5 minutes.
For whatever reason, he hasn’t slept for more than 2-3 hours at a time since he was born, night or day. For those of you with short-term memory, that’s 12 months without a full night’s sleep, and for those of you with babies that have magically slept through the night by day 2 of their short life, that’s your cue to keep quiet if you value yours. Before, of course, we blamed the kid’s appetite, or his sleep cycle trying to adjust itself, or maybe, perhaps, his poor little psyche trying to work out the trauma of birth. But mostly, now, we blame the teeth. His new teeth hurt as they come in, so Mom hurts, because we all know moms are notoriously more empathetic than Dads. And they also seem to sleep lighter too.
My wife told me a story the other day about a mom who is up for the hundredth time with the baby and looks over at her peacefully, obliviously sleeping husband and thinks— “What’s the point of having him around, anyway?” I would love to pretend I don’t know why she keeps telling me this story and then laughing uncomfortably without making eye contact, but the truth is, most of the time my sleeping is a sham and I know exactly what it is she's getting at. Most of the time, I’m over there sweating bullets of guilt every time that baby cries, like Pavlov’s dog’s salivating at the sound of his bell, and guilt is a painful kind of sweat. He hurts, I hurt. Not a very glamorous brand of empathy, but there it is. And now the cat’s out of the bag and I’m in for a looong night, which will hurt even more and only further prove my point.
While the 12mo-old is busy growing teeth, the 4yr-old is off losing them. Or the first one, anyway.
A few days ago I was in our back room reading when the 4yr-old marched in loudly; I could tell because he was wearing his cowboy boots. I glanced up from my book to see him studying something in his cupped right hand with a look like mild hysteria on his face. Then he stared at me wild-eyed and announced, very loudly while thrusting his hand in my direction— “My tooth!” (but in actuality it sounded more like, “My toof!”). Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a twenty-second video my wife took several minutes later to memorialize the event.
Toothing update: Yesterday, mom and I noticed the kid had lost a second one! We're offering a reward for whoever finds it, so please keep your eyes open; I will be off feigning sleep.