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Loving Her to Death

Vincent Arts

Magoo loves his baby sister.  He loves her so much that he likes to give her rides around the living room even though she weighs nearly as much as him.  He loves her so much that he’s not capable of realizing that babies are breakable, that there is such a thing as too much fun, that just because she’s laughing at what he’s doing, doesn’t mean it won’t kill her.

However, he might understand that last one just a bit more after our recent hair-raising road trip experience.  We were on the road for two and a half weeks, spending time in Montana and Utah with family and then driving back up to Seattle.  On the last leg of our journey, about ten hours from home, we stopped at a gas station to accommodate a member of our travel party who currently has a bathroom obsession. 

While we were waiting our turn, Magoo picked Wanda up, hoisting her by the midsection and jostling her around like a rag doll.  She giggled, her head bobbing wildly and her laughter spurred him on.  He started to run with her in his 6-year-old arms.  I was standing a couple of feet away from them when he tripped on the linoleum and fell forward.  There was nothing I could do as I watched my 2-year-old fall face first onto the hard ground. 

She came up with road rash on her arms, a flattened-looking nose, and a piteous wail.  I held out my arms and tried to calm her, while simultaneously laying into Magoo about not being careful with his baby sister.  Essentially I was trying to stop her crying while making him bawl.  I walk a difficult line with Magoo, wanting to encourage him to spend time with and love his baby, while discouraging him from slamming her face into cement.

When Wanda opened her mouth and blood started gushing out, Laylee and I both joined in the crying action.  She was missing a big chunk of her front tooth and her gums and tongue were bleeding profusely. 

There’s not much in the world that’s cuter than Wanda’s smile full of perfect little baby teeth.  She lights up the room.  After driving home for another ten hours with bloody-mouth-face-head strapped down in her car seat, I was lamenting to Dan about how much I will miss her sweet smile.

He said, “Her smile is still super cute.  But she does look tougher somehow.”  Tougher indeed.  Like she’s been scrappin’ with the neighbor kids, a baby ruffian, a pirate.  Dan says that if she’s going to be a pirate, we need to teach her to say her RRRRRRRs.

The dentist recommends leaving her teeth as they are, unless they’re causing her significant pain.  They may turn black, become heat sensitive, or get infected.  But if not, he says it’s not worth the risk of putting her under an anesthetic for purely cosmetic reasons.  I agree with him but I do mourn her little baby smile.  And I’ve forbidden Magoo to ever pick her up again.

I think most older siblings have a bit of this problem.  When Magoo was a baby, we referred to Laylee as Lenny, always loving and squeezing him so hard we were afraid she would squash, strangle or suffocate him like the character from Of Mice and Men.  But he came through it alright.  He even has all of his teeth.

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