“Mommy, my toof hurts,” five-year-old Molly whined at the dinner table. “It hurts when I eat. I think ice-cream will make it feel better”. Nice try, kid. A quick check in her mouth confirmed that, yep! Molly had her first loose tooth! The central on her bottom gum wiggled slightly back and forth, wobbling more and more with each probe of Molly’s fingers. “Will the toof fairy come and give me money?” she asked excitedly. My back started to sweat at this question; there’s a fine line between encouraging childhood fables and outright lying. “Um, yep, that’s right,” I mumbled. “I can’t wait for my money!” Molly chattered, her face glowing with happiness.
Molly’s loose tooth brought back a wave of memories. I distinctly remember my first loose tooth: I bit into a carrot, and one of my bottom teeth popped slightly out of its socket. Confused, I showed my parents — had I broken my mouth? They reassured me that no, my mouth was fine; losing baby teeth was part of growing up. I also vividly remember the painful ripping of my teeth out of their sockets (shudder). A sharp burst of pain as tooth and gum separated, followed by the coppery taste of blood. My tongue would probe the tender flesh around the wound, until eventually the new tooth would pierce the surface of the gumline. Holy dastardly dentist, am I glad I don’t have to go through that again!
Despite her protests, Molly’s tooth had to come out at some point. A quick twist was all it took, since she had been wiggling the thing nonstop, including with her mouth full of meatloaf at the dinner table. “Now I oot it unner my piwwow, wight?” Molly asked, her mouth full of gauze to staunch the bleeding. “That’s right, kiddo!” I chirped, trying not to swoon at the sight my child’s weeping wound. Eventually, Molly was persuaded to get in bed and go to sleep, since the tooth fairy only comes when kids are unconscious. Lo and behold, under the cloak of darkness, the exalted fairy herself showed up! She stumbled into Molly’s room at three AM, eyes unfocused and hair on end, moving as quietly as her protesting joints would allow. Naturally, she stepped on every creaky floorboard and pointy toy possible, causing her heart to pound when Molly shifted position. Stealthily, with the grace of a drunk donkey, the precious tooth was retrieved from under Molly’s pillow, and a shiny toonie (a Canadian two dollar coin) took its place. Satisfied, the tooth fairy retreated to her warm bed, but not before groggily bashing her knee on a bookshelf.
Molly burst into our bedroom at stupid o’clock. “She came! The toof fairy was here! Look, I got a coin!” Molly babbled brightly. The tooth fairy was cranky from lack of sleep but tried to make an effort. “That’s great, sweetie. Why don’t you go back to bed. Right now.” I mumbled. “How about you show me while we have breakfast?” my husband Jeremy asked, flinging back the covers. As the two of them sauntered out the door, with Molly chattering away, I silently thanked the tooth fairy that visited me when I was a child, thirty-two years ago. Once again, I marvel at what we do to make our kids happy; we’re tooth fairies, Easter bunnies, Cupids, and Santas all in one. Like my parents before me, I’ll sacrifice sleep to put a smile on my kids’ faces – but don’t ask me to do it too often!