Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Like Pulling Teeth

My girls, while sharing many, many similarities do exhibit one stark and striking difference: the way in which they handle a loose tooth.

Esmee is one of those kids who just leaves it alone. The roots start to dissolve, the tooth gets wiggly, and she waits. And waits, and waits. Until the thing is spinning around, hanging by a thread, disrupting her speaking and eating. And then, just when I don't think I can even stand to look at her adorable face anymore (disfigured as it is by this dangling tooth), she gives it the one little tug that sets it free. I suspect she'll be one of those teenagers that leaves her zits alone too. That never waits by the phone for a boy to call. I am in awe of her patience, her nearly zen-like stoicism, the way she just lets the chips fall as they may. Maybe because I have never, ever shared that type of restraint, that magical self-control. And neither has her sister.

When Kicky was about seven years old, we had a party at our house. It was mostly guys. We ordered a Wrestlemania event on pay-per-view (don't ask), and barbequed. The kids were amped up. They both love an audience, and this was a captive one. At this point Kicky had lost several teeth, including one of her top front ones. The other one was just starting to wiggle. But for whatever reason, she became convinced that she was going to lose the tooth that night. And over the course of the next several hours she made it happen. Blame it on the testosterone, or the spectacle that is Wrestlemania, but the girl was determined. And with the next body-slam, she yanked that tooth out by the roots and held it up, in all its bloody glory for us to see. Her pride. Her prize.

I like to think of her as pro-active, of one who takes initiative, of a girl who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go get it. Like me. (I remember distinctly kneeling on the pedestal sink for hours, face pressed against the mirror, as I wriggled and wriggled my own teeth prematurely from their own comfortable sockets.) But what I'm finding is that this personality trait Kicky and I share is a positive attribute in some circumstances, but not so great in others. (I see ravaged blemishes, and nights spent lamenting the silent phone in her teenaged future, and it breaks my heart.)

Soliciting her father's help.

And as for me?

I have been working on the new book now for over a month. And it's been agonizing. I write 5000 words, delete 5000 words. I create a character and then wipe them off the face of my fictional universe. I think I know where I'm going and then I'm lost, up to my knees in proverbial verbal quicksand. I wake up every morning wondering what will go wrong next. The last book didn't give me grief like this. It was easy, breezy. I dare say it wrote itself...seriously, I showed up to do the typing but the story emerged without resistance.

This one, though? It's that just-barely loose tooth. It's not ready. It would probably benefit from Esmee's graceful forbearance. I admire the writers who languish, who wait months, years, for the story to come. For the patient ones. But I'm like a seven year old at a Wrestlemania party, and I am dying to yank that sucker out by the roots. No guts, no glory...right, Kick?

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