I came home from work last night to the sound of a blood curdling scream coming from the guest room. I hurried down the hall to the bedroom to find my oldest granddaughter, Rachel (6) standing in the full-length mirror examining her mouth with Nana right behind her, telling her to "Push up on it!" I asked what was going on, and Rachel turned her tear-streaked face towards me, revealing a long string dangling from a very loose and yet still intact tooth.
Losing teeth is a big deal when you're 6. It's an event. And if you're Rachel, it's a dramatic event. Pretty soon, the whole family was involved. I called in some over-the-phone backup thinking that Rachel may settle down if she heard her mother's voice. Nope. Rachel had changed her mind about having the tooth pulled, and was by this time on the verge of hysteria at the thought of parting with it. The problem was that afore mentioned string had now slipped up over the top of the tooth at the gum line, and the only way to remove the string was to extract the tooth.
It was about this time that my middle granddaughter, Jordan (4), nonchalantly leaned back on the bed and said "This is going to take all night" and suggested that she and I go to the other room and watch a movie. As appealing as that suggestion sounded, I was determined not to forsake Nana, who was being fought loose tooth and claw. That tooth had to come out.
About that time the phone rang; Papaw Terry was sending in his support. Rachel took the phone and through sobs and tears, with afore mentioned string flapping on her quivering chin, explained to Papaw that she was just not willing to let that tooth be pulled.
Terry's phone call did however allow Nana to catch her breath and refocus. After the phone call ended, she announced, "Let's change tactics. Papa, let's pray." This is getting desperate. Now we've gotten Jesus in on this thing.
What's that Scripture about the violent taking it by force? That was finally the path we chose. I had Nana to hold Rachel from behind in a big, gentle bear hug. My plan was to take hold of afore mentioned string and give it one sharp, quick yank. Simple. And now with her arms gently pinned to her sides, I reach for afore mentioned string...and discover that my baby knows tae kwon do (if you've ever seen Billy Jack, think of the fight scene in the park.)
Now fearing for my own teeth, I held her legs with one hand and in one sweeping move grabbed afore mentioned string and plucked out the tooth.
Phone calls were made, congratulations given, I held Rachel and petted her, begging her not to be mad at me, was assured by her that I was forgiven, and that night Nana slipped five $1 coins under her pillow. I personally remember a quarter being the accepted payment for a tooth, but then, that was a long time ago (and without the drama.)
I love my family. And I particularly love the way we all come together, even by telephone, just to get a child's loose tooth pulled. Strings are not always attached to loose teeth, but they are always attached to tight familys. I guess that's what is meant by "family ties."