I’ll be in the middle of a conversation when I notice there’s something in my mouth.
I feel around gently with my tongue, and find something loose in my mouth – I spit it out into my hand, and notice it’s one of my teeth.
I don’t deal well with teeth.
Still. I tell myself there’s no need to panic. Breathe.
If I keep the tooth, the dentist can maybe implant it. Or I can get a crown or something. It’ll be okay.
I continue my conversation, but as I talk, one by one my teeth start to come loose. Sometimes, they start to crumble like chalk. Every time I tell myself I can live without three teeth, or four, or five – another few fall out.
Within a few minutes, I’m looking at the broken up remains of my teeth, in my hands. In the dream, I am pretty freaked out. But the person I’m with always tells me to stop over-reacting and being so dramatic.
“Don’t be ludicrous,” are the words my dream mother tends to use when I tell her I have to leave our lunch, to get to the dentist.
Obviously, I’ve read enough books about dreams to know that this is supposed to represent a fear of loss of control. It’s a fair analysis – anyone who has seen my alphabetised spice rack knows that I have a teeny, tiny tendency towards control freakery.
But I also am genuinely, completely freaked out by teeth. And this is a problem when you’re hanging around children.
I once worked for a woman who had a 5-year-old daughter with a missing front tooth. I had to make a point of looking elsewhere whenever the kid was in the room, or I’d feel nauseous. I haven’t actually made eye contact with my niece for about two years now. We watched an episode of the Simpsons the other night where Bart (a cartoon character) has a wobbly tooth. I had to change channels. It's pathetic, I know.
But Flea is five and a half. Most of her friends now have charming gaps in their mouths that mean I have to conduct conversations with them while looking into a space six inches above their heads. I can just tell she's next. I'm trying to delay the inevitable – I make her floss twice a day and use mouthwash and her teeth ARE in tip-top condition.
This morning, Flea got up and told me her teeth were feeling a bit sore.
“Don’t be ludicrous,” I said, chucking a sachet of Calpol in her direction.
Literally, I have no idea how I am going to cope for the next – what – two years?? I think if I’m required to touch a tooth, or (I genuinely find this hard to type) look at a wobbly tooth – ugh. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Kids like wobbling their teeth, I seem to remember. Wobbly teeth, with bits of tendon and blood and stuff. It turns my stomach, it really does.
Help me readers. Help Flea.
Because short of putting my child into foster care until she has a full set of adult teeth, I am somehow going to have to find a way to deal with this.