Tuesday was my first day back in the saddle after I bookended the weekend with a couple of vacation days, in order to tackle a to-do list that was getting pretty dusty.
It was a productive staycation, although I admit I had a boatload of work stuff on the brain Monday morning. Our longtime DeKalb reporter, Drew Zimmerman, took a promotion and now is working in Crystal Lake for our flagship paper, the Northwest Herald. Our photo chief, Mark Busch, has vacation coming Thursday and Friday, and the one reporter left in our stable, Katie Finlon, will be out of state all next week.
It’s enough to make an anxiety-prone guy, well, anxious. Then something truly awful happened Monday morning, and in a twisted way, it might have been the best thing that could have happened to me.
As I was sawing branches from one of the dead ash trees we felled over the weekend, Kayla and our 4-year-old twin girls appeared in the backyard. I had earbuds in, so I couldn’t hear what Kayla was saying, but the fact that she was carrying Anna didn’t bode well.
I ripped out my earbuds and Kayla briefed me: Our fearless little Anna Bear had quite the spill at summer camp Monday morning, and knocked out two of her front teeth. My heart broke a little, but I took a deep breath and shifted into play-with-and-distract-Elise mode while Kayla took Anna to the dentist.
Truthfully, I was doing my best to distract myself as Elise and I played games and read books, but I kept thinking about how much that must have hurt, and was still hurting, for Anna. I kept thinking about how hard it would be for her to eat in the days to come. What was really silly was I kept thinking about photos at her fifth birthday party coming up in about a month, and how she just wouldn’t look the same.
Again, how silly, yeah?
Turns out, beyond helping her brush her teeth the first few times, reminding her to eat with her back teeth the first few meals and having her swish saltwater to help heal the wounds, there isn’t much we can do.
Most notably, the child is virtually unfazed. Matter of fact, I’m not sure the last time I saw her as happy as she was when she got two quarters from the tooth fairy this morning – and a note telling her the fairy found her teeth at the playground, along with a gentle reminder to slow down.
Children are resilient. Who cares about photos? In a year, the rest of those teeth are going to fall out, anyway, and Anna’s adult choppers will come in. It was just a matter of time.
It’s funny how we trick ourselves into thinking we’re the ones teaching our children. Anna gave me a refresher course on living and letting live.
• Christopher Heimerman is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.