Sunday, December 11, 2005

Loose Tooth T

Our 6-year-old has been discussing his loose tooth since the summer when it first began to wiggle in its socket. Would he be able to eat food when it fell out, he wondered, or was there a risk of starving? "Has the first grade lost any students to starvation?" I asked him. "Not yet," he admitted. "Well you probably won't be the first." As Thanksgiving bore down on us the dental drama heightened. The tooth was dangerously loose. There was a very real risk it could pop out and vanish into Grandma Carm's famous Thanksgiving Day pork sausage stuffing. But no. The tooth held on. It went from loose, to very loose, to hanging by a thread, to hanging by an invisible thread. Now it appeared to be held in place by nothing more than a force field. Uncle Rob offered to tie his tooth to a doorknob. Or he would get his tools from his toolbox. Our 6-year-old declined, aghast at the suggestions. It wasn't until the following day that he burst into our room and said, "Guess what?!" He opened his jaws wide to show off the new gaping hole in his gums. We cheered! He did a victory dance! Then came a howl. The 4-year-old began hitting himself in the head. "It's gone!" he cried. "He lost his TOOTH!" In all the excitement of "losing" the tooth I guess we had failed to explain what came next. "It won't be gone forever," I told him. "He'll get a new grown-up tooth." We carefully secured the tooth in a plastic sandwich bag, and placed the bag under his pillow. The next morning he had a shiny silver dollar in its place. To show you the state of first graders' education these days, the 6-year-old informed me that because they were active at night and could see in the dark, tooth fairies are "nocturnal." Less than a week later he announced at breakfast that his other bottom tooth was very loose. He hoped to lose it at school. Apparently a lost tooth at school is accompanied by fanfare and a visit from the assistant principal. There is a special container for the precious tooth, and who knows, maybe a crown. As he was wiggling the tooth with his finger I suggested he stop eating his second piece of toast and get ready for school. "Just brush the top teeth," I advised him. Five minutes later I heard a moan from the other side of the house. He emerged from his bedroom, crestfallen. It had come out when he tripped over his brother. (I'm probably lucky I still have all of my teeth considering how many times I have tripped over the 4-year-old.) I placed Tooth Two in another sandwich bag and stuck it in our refrigerator. At dinnertime Hubby heard the good news and bad news. A lost tooth, but no glory at school. "Where's the tooth?" Hubby inquired. I went to the refrigerator. Where the heck was it? I had it in a plastic bag, for Mike Tyson's sake. It had to be in there. I searched every shelf, each drawer, the butter compartment. The freezer. The. Tooth. Was. Gone. How could this be? The search was narrowed down to a single major appliance. As the condiment bottles multiplied on our countertop, Hubby looked concerned. "Why don't I look?" he suggested. I gave the boys dessert, trying to ignore the sinking feeling that I had perhaps tossed it out with old onions that had outlived their pungentness. That had gone over to the Dark Side of the Fridge. I don't remember doing this, but then, I don't remember half of what is on my grocery list these days. Or could I have intended to put it in the refrigerator and never did? And why the heck was I refrigerating an expired tooth, anyway? I wasn't a dentist or taxidermist. Five minutes later Hubby triumphantly produced a plastic bag with its little white contents. Relief flooded through me like a dose of nitrous oxide. The 6-year-old resumed his state of Dental Ecstasy. Later I remarked to Hubby, "Good thing you have good eyes." He replied pointedly, "Good thing I'm RESOURCEFUL." "You mean you..." He held up a piece of white platic with a small edge sawed off it. "So I had YOU fooled, too?" E-Novacained-Gads! We were pulling a fast one on the 6-year-old, not to mention the Tooth Fairy. She obviously took it at face value, because she left the coin as expected. Tooth Number Three came out just the other day during an especially violent game of kickball during recess at school. To my son's chagrin, the tooth became lost in the playing field. Fortunately his teacher explained that a well-written note to the Tooth Fairy instructing her to "check the playground" would probably result in the traditional prize. The next morning, it did.

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