Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of Teeth and Traditions

So last night I pulled my oldest daughter's tooth out.  It was one of those reluctant teeth, one of those stubborn hangers-on that just wouldn't let go. For several nights I tried to yank it out, only to have it slip through my fingers.  She cried every time. Even when she'd muster the courage to ask me to try again, after one slip, she'd break down in tears, making further attempts impossible.

Last night, it was so loose and wobbly that my wife and I decided it was time to just get the bugger out of there, tears and all.  She wanted nothing to do with it, but being parents, we know better.  No wasting time with trying to get a fingerhold this time. Oh no, this time it was the dental-floss-tied-to-the-doorknob method.  She was still hysterical, kept trying to sabotage every attempt (plus the floss kept slipping, rendering each attempt an abysmal failure) until finally, my wife had her lie down on a couple of chairs, we got the knot around the tooth, distracted her with conversation, and then I unceremoniously shut the door. No 1-2-3 countdown, no warning, I just closed the door and the offending diente went flying across the room.

She bawled even harder.

Until I showed her the tiny - nay, minute - offender and the sobs quickly turned to chuckles, and she couldn't have been happier. Tooth Fairy! Quarter! (Call me cheap, but I don't believe that baby teeth are worth more than that. Maybe 50 cents for dentist-extraction agony.) Once the real problem was removed and she could finally relax and she realized that she didn't have to deal with it any longer, she was all (holey) smiles, even with bloody Kleenex filing her mouth.

I think that with re-educating ward Scouters (of whom many don't know that's what they are), it's a lot like pulling baby teeth. The anticipation is worse than the solution. The incorrect traditions, indifference and stubborn resistance to change are the baby teeth. The inertial attachment to those ideas is the fearful anticipation that makes those changes so hard to even contemplate, much less act on. "We can't! We won't! You can't make us! We don't want to! It will hurt!" But pull that tooth out and it allows something bigger and better to take its place. You won't even miss it once it's gone. In fact, you may even luxuriate in its absence while the replacement takes shape. The real trick is knowing that it's ready to come out, in spite of protestations to the contrary.

The other lesson is that it really helps when someone has your back. Two people on the same page, with the same vision, works so much better than one going it alone.

Prepared. | For Life.™


Fishgutts said...

Great analogy!

Tory said...

Great story! And it applies to change of all varieties.