Two lost teeth
I was six, and it was maybe early spring, but still cold and icy. We were going home from the school with this other kid. Not much my pal, I think they just moved there recently so I barely knew him. Anyway, after this experience I was avoiding him for the rest of school time.
Just on the other side of the school yard’s fence there is a playground, and back then they haven’t really finished building it, so it was littered with construction material. We found a huge metal sheet in the sand pit. Well, compared to our size back then it was huge. It was a bit twisted, and with one end leaning upwards. So if you climbed to the raised end, you were about a meter above ground and it became a huge spring swinging you up and down. Then you just had to kick yourself up in the right moment and there was a fun jump.
I was a very cautious kid, I remember being afraid of even the wall bars in the kindergarten. And of course I was a good boy. I think these two go together.
It was his idea to do the jump. I can’t recall if he was teasing me or I just felt I came out too stupid if I don’t do these manly things so I played along. Did he jump at all? I can’t recall. But I had a bad feeling about it all along.
And there was I, flying up in the air. But it was a total miscalculation, as not only up but forward too. Meanwhile my over sized backpack heavy with books had a bigger momentum than I had, flipped me over and I hit the concrete ground, face down.
Two of my front teeth broke out, and blood was pouring from my mouth. Strangely it didn’t hurt at all, but I was crying from the shock. My biggest concern right in that moment was “how I’m going to explain it at home?” How would I tell my mom, that her smart and good boy did something utterly stupid, something that even he knew it was dangerous. I felt so ashamed.
The other kid got so scared seeing me bleeding that he ran away. Not for help, he ran straight home. Bastard. An old lady came to my rescue and walked me to the nearby surgery. The nurse knew my mother and called her at work to come and pick me up. I felt more terrible by the minute. Not because it hurt, but because of the shame I felt. I am supposed to be a clever and wise boy and now I’m just plain stupid and retarded. Oh and with two missing teeth. I couldn’t even hide the fact.
How did I tell her? Well I didn’t. I only sad I slipped and fell. No mention of the teeter-like hack, jump, peer pressure and manly competition. I never discussed this with my mom anymore, and it still hovers as an undiscovered lie in our relationship.
This story stayed with me as a reminder for the rest of my life to stay away from even slightly dangerous things, take low risk, and surely not to do stupid things. I kept feeling ashamed for not delivering expectations and hiding the fact. Add to that I did not want to smile for over two years until my permanent teeth patched up the hole, which added to my being anyway serious.
Until this morning. As I was telling this story to my therapist in the usual grim manner, it just didn’t want to come out serious enough. I suddenly realized that this is simply a silly story about a boy trying out something and in failing badly loosing two milk teeth. And there is even an element of funny in it. From the distance actually much more funny than grim.
This whole shame thing and secrecy was constructed by me given one framework of interpretation, and strengthened every time I retold it to myself in my later life. Had I lived in a different framework, I would talk now about bravery and falling, yet standing up and keeping going on.
And then it occurred to me. I am living life in a wrong narrative. It’s as if I was put on a running horse only in reverse direction, and no one told me I’m looking backwards. No wonder the world looks spooky.
Or perhaps many did actually, but I was not listening.