As we had suspected and hoped, the long awaited day finally arrived on Friday. It was hard to see, but I managed to get my thumb into Elena’s mouth to feel her gum line, and felt the sharp little edge of a tooth that has finally broken through. She must have noticed the difference herself, and that may be why she let me feel it, because she usually avoids having fingers stuck in her mouth. She, on the other hand, loves to stick her whole hand into my mouth and examine my teeth.
It has been months since other babies in her cohort started to get their teeth. Every time Elena had a fussy day, we wondered if it was teething pain. It might have been, but the teeth never broke through before. Early on, I was skeptical while Jenny was a tooth believer. More recently Jenny had tooth fatigue and I raised the banner of hope. Now that Elena has a tooth, we’re both amazed by how cheerfully she’s handling it. She’s been exceptionally good this week. When we left for church today, Elena was sending us all her sleepy signals: saying “ni ni,” cuddling her blanky and sucking her thumb. At church, she stayed awake and kept herself happy, quiet, and under control the whole time.
I can already see the signs of the next tooth, so it should be here before long. One doctor observed that late teethers often get their teeth rapidly, even in bunches, so we’ll see if that holds true for Elena. One tooth isn’t good for much, but I think I saw her using it to crunch a graham cracker today.
On a more philosophical note, the tooth saga reminds me that there are many things that I can’t control or even influence about Elena’s development. When we give her tastes of three or four new kinds of food in one evening, and she eats all of them, it’s just because of who she is. I’m pretty proud that we can get her to fold her arms before we say a prayer, but as much as I like to think that we taught her that, I know that it wouldn’t have happened without her innate abilities and interests. As with any parent, I’m in danger of projecting my hopes and dreams onto her, but hopefully moments like this will remind me to avoid that.