Two Front Teeth

Two Front Teeth

Son, you have already started to slough off your childhood. I'm grateful for our years, even the times like these. Not just to be present for your shock and awe as your two front teeth popped out with a little help from Dad, but over the years through all the times we’ve been through.

I strapped you to me when first you arrived. Later, I walked with you day after day on the beach. Like so many kids, I'm sure, you would spend hours with a leaf, a stick, a weed, or just the ever shifting boundary between wet ocean and dry land. When something like chaos reigned around you (a pendulum of maternal weight, a hefting whirlwind from one pole to the other) you and I, son, held hands in the sun, helped each other bask quietly in the equatorial warmth.

It hurt back then when brows would lift in surprise that a paternal presence could offer shelter for a child from the alternating hurricanes and dead-calms your mother would heave. It hurts still when the interviewer stumbles in surprise that I, a father, would leave study and career for my child. Like the other day, when a pair of academic eyes and nostrils flared in shock, as if my story is so incredulous, the real motives needed to be sniffed out. Tell me, why should I be kept from the sweet nectar of sacrifice? 

I reminded myself that I am, as you my son have dreamt me, the reviver of skeletons. So I took that stranger’s wounding jab: I let their disbelief in paternal promise pluck another tooth of mine. It wasn't the first time.

But this time I realized, I long ago lost my deciduous dentition. If this keeps up, soon I will be edentulous, unable to bite back.