“How long is a tooth wiggly for?” asked my 6 year old son.
And with that one very unexpected question, what started out to be an ordinary Thursday morning got a little more interesting. This was the first time my son had mentioned anything about having a loose (or as he called it “wiggly” which is a much cuter word) tooth, so obviously, I had to investigate. He pointed out the tooth in question and as I touched it, I was shocked to see that it moved! I pushed the tooth forward, I pushed it back. Yes, this tooth was loose wiggly….it was very wiggly! I told my son that there was a good chance that the tooth would fall out in the next day or so. That made him very happy and he went off to kindergarten that day with his wiggly tooth, a huge smile on his face and thoughts of the tooth fairy in his head.
Thoughts of the tooth fairy were now in my head too. The grin on my face was pretty big as I waited for my son’s return home from school. Would he get off the bus with one less tooth than when he left for school that morning? When I met him at the end of the driveway, I asked him to smile for me. He obliged with a toothy smile and I could see that all of the teeth were still intact. Later that afternoon I wanted to see if the tooth was any closer to falling out. I was quite eager for my son to lose his very first tooth and for his first visit from the tooth fairy. So I asked my son if I could wiggle the tooth to see if I could get it to fall out. He agreed and I wiggled that tooth hoping that it would come out.
“OUCH! That hurts!” my son cried out.
Yes, I had been eager for that tooth to come out – I guess a little too eager. That tooth was not ready leave the comfort of my son’s mouth yet. I spent the rest of the day profusely apologizing to my son for accidently inflicting pain on him, but the damage had been done. He refused to let me anywhere near his mouth or that tooth again. As we went to bed Thursday evening, the tooth was resting securely in my son’s mouth and the tooth fairy would not be visiting our house that night.
With respect to the tooth, the next day was status quo. I had accepted the fact that I would just have to wait a little longer for my son’s first tooth to fall out. I even stopped asking him if I could see how loose it was (of course there was really no point in asking because he still wouldn’t let me within a 1 mile radius of that tooth). The tooth fairy may have visited many houses that Friday evening, but ours was not one of them.
My son woke up on Saturday morning, and the first person he encountered was my husband. My husband asked him if he could see his smile to check on the tooth. Since his father wasn’t the parent who 2 days ago had tried to forcefully extract his tooth, my son smiled and showed his father all of his teeth. Well, almost all of his teeth.
I heard my name being called and I proceeded to my son’s bedroom to see what all of the commotion was about. As I entered the room, my son was standing there smiling at me.
The tooth was gone! The tooth was gone. Um, where’s the tooth?
My son had not pulled his tooth out, he just woke up and it was gone. A quick look through his sheets and pillow came up empty – no tooth. “You probably just swallowed it while you were sleeping” said my husband.
Uh-oh. Wrong thing to say to a 6 year old.
Upon hearing that he may have swallowed his own tooth, a look of fear entered my son’s eyes and he started to wail, “WE HAVE TO GET IT OUT OF MY STOMACH! WE HAVE TO GET IT OUT!” As loving parents, we held him and assured him that it was OK that he swallowed his tooth. Nothing bad would happen to him. We explained that just like food, whatever his body did not need, including the tooth, would get pooped out.
Uh-oh. Really wrong thing to say to a 6 year old.
At this point he became hysterical. “WE NEED TO GET THE TOOTH. THE TOOTH FAIRY HAS TO HAVE THE TOOTH,” he cried over and over. We tried to tell him that we didn’t need the tooth, and we could write the tooth fairy a note explaining what happened. The tooth fairy would still come and leave him a surprise even though we didn’t have the actual tooth. But he was inconsolable – he had to have the tooth. I couldn’t believe how what started out as a milestone moment had turned into a catastrophe. Worst of all, it looked like the only remedy to the situation was to try to get the tooth back. I was going to have to search through my son’s poop to find his tooth! Now, I’m a doctor, so I’ve encountered a lot of what some people may consider disgusting things. But searching through poop for a tooth…..that may have to go directly to the top of the list of disgusting things encountered in my life.
As I was resigned to my poop searching fate, a giant light bulb suddenly appeared above my head (not an ordinary light bulb but a compact fluorescent bulb – I care about the environment). I went into my bedroom, opened up one of my drawers, and pulled out a book – my baby book. I opened the book and pulled out an envelope. The item in this envelope was the answer to my poopy toothy problem. Written on the envelope said it all – “Lori’s first tooth Sept. 30, 1977”. I was going to deceive my son by passing off my first tooth as his own. Now I usually don’t condone deception, but if it’s going to get me out of spending my weekend poking through poop, then I’m all for deceiving my children! I opened the envelope, pulled out a tiny tooth, and hurried back to my son’s room.
“Look what I found”, I said as I looked under his bed. “I found your tooth. It must have fallen out of your mouth and you knocked it on to the floor while you were sleeping.” I held up “his” tooth for him to see. An enormous smile spread across his face. “Now the tooth fairy can come,” said my son.
That night the tooth fairy made her much anticipated debut at our house. And I have to say, she was extremely grateful that a very old tooth and a little white lie turned what could have been quite a shitty story, into a story with a very happy ending.