I remember it like it was yesterday, Sister was 4 years old. Her hair was a golden brown bob with a big purple bow. Her cheeks were chunky—the last characteristic she still had from her babyhood. She had dressed herself in a full pink tutu, a shimmery tube top from a mermaid costume, and a fancy boa. Madeline Hart was dancing (as she always does), and attempted one of her twirls that she had not quite mastered. Her feet got tangled, and she went face first into the hardwood floor. When she looked up at me, blood covered her little mouth. Her lips as well as her front two teeth were busted.
I called for Christian—who is not able to deal with the sight of blood. He immediately bolted into the kitchen to try to act like he was finding an emergency dental office in the phonebook. Since her accident happened while out of town and on a Sunday morning, we had little options for getting medical attention. My instincts kicked in as I began to clean her up and assess the damage.
I took Sister into one of the bedrooms to get a better look and try to calm her down.
I heard Christian’s muffled voice through the closed bedroom door as if he were hunkered down in a secret location—purposefully keeping his distance.
“Are y’all okay? Is there something I can do?” I rolled my eyes and lightly laughed at his ridiculousness.
“Where are you?” I replied.
“A safe distance from any semblance of blood,” he replied, I could barely hear him.
“Call Jeff, we are going to need some advice,” I yelled back.
Christian called his best friend who was a dentist/orthodontist for advice. Following Jeff’s instructions (Christian still unseen), I popped my precious baby girl’s teeth back in place. They looked good at first, but as days passed, Sister’s teeth turned black.
“Mommy, my smile is ugly,” she would say. “My friends are laughing at me.” At first, I cried over the loss of her precious little smile—as ridiculous as it sounds now.
Over the next several months, Christian and I managed to rebuild her little confidence. We gave her the tools to respond well to kid’s reactions to her teeth. She prayed sweet little prayers asking God to help her be kind to those who are different. When her school pictures came around, she smiled as big as possible despite her appearance. She developed a compassion for others because she knew how it felt to be a tiny bit different. She grew this precious little personality in hopes that people would love her despite her unlovable appearance, and that is exactly what they did. Over time, most people didn’t even notice her teeth. They focused on the sweet spirited little girl she was, but every year there was always that one kid that brought the pain of her appearance back to the forefront.
Although she embraced her teeth, she anxiously waited for the day to come when they would fall out. All of her friends were loosing teeth left and right, but year after year our school pictures were a reminder that hers were very much intact. Unfortunately for Sister, our entire family lose their teeth late. But this week, after waiting for 3 years, Madeline Hart lost her last “bad tooth.” It was the day we had been waiting for.
“Mommy, it is finally gone. Both my “bad teeth” are gone,” she said as she started to cry while rubbing her gap with her tongue.
“Sister, I am so excited for you!” I exclaimed. “But why are you crying?”
“I just feel happy and sad at the same time. I think I’m going to miss them. I learned so much from my teeth.” Tears filled my eyes.
I sat reflecting on the selfless, compassionate little girl she was. I thought about how well she loves others, especially those that are so unlovable (including her brothers, at times…) and how she has taught me to love like that, too.
At the time, I would have done anything to prevent her fall from happening—thinking I knew best. Little did I know that God would use such a tiny insignificant little accident to help mold her into a selfless little girl with a heart of gold. I thank God for knowing better than me, and I realize that He uses the “falls” more so than the easy times to mold my kids into His likeness. I hope I always remember that allowing my kids to fall/fail isn’t a bad thing when it is something God can use.