I hear a commotion from where I stand at the kitchen sink. There is a scurry of feet, a pounding at the steps, and then a few quick taps from one excited little hand.
I look down to find a bouncing H. His mouth is open wide, and he points urgently to his two front lower incisors.
“They’re wiggly!” he shouts and then bounces some more.
“They are?!” I say. “Well, buddy, that’s great!” I ask him to stop hopping so I can check out his teeth for myself. Sure enough, they’re as wiggly as worms.
I’m happy for two reasons. First, my kindergartener—who walked at 10 months and spoke full sentences by his first birthday—is one of the last kids in his class to drop a few pearly whites. The delay has turned into a point of stress for my kiddo; lately, I’ve caught him with a furrowed brow and two plier-like fingers in his mouth. Often.
I’m also excited because I’ve never played the role of Tooth Fairy. It smacks soundly of a new 36×37 assignment. I’m thankful for that because it will replace what was supposed to be assignment #33 – Learn to Change a Tire.
H pokes through one of our many “junk” drawers and pulls out the Tooth Fairy pillow my mom gave him a few months ago. “I can finally use this!” he says, flashing a smile that will one day soon be two teeth short.
Now, I don’t know about you, but some of the people I know get competitive about certain things, like where they went on their last spa vacation, or what luxury car they plan to buy this summer. The habit extends all the way down the rank and file, because some parents in H’s class have forked over $20 per tooth, and their kids have talked about it with their friends. “That’s preposterous,” I think. “They’re baby teeth, for crying out loud.” And besides all that, H has 20 teeth to lose. Do we really need to invest $400 in this enterprise, when a $20 total sounds much more intelligent?
I take the question to my friends via facebook: “How much coin is the Tooth Fairy dropping these days?” I ask. My friends give reasonable answers: One to two dollars seems to be the going rate.
I dwell and dwell and dwell on this. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t, but look at it this way: If I take the reasonable route, will H come home and ask why the Tooth Fairy gave him $1, while Joe received a cool, green Jackson? If yes, what answer will I give—that the Tooth Fairy donated the other $19 to his college fund?
So I dwell some more. In fact, I dwell so much that I do something really stupid.
“I ran into Scott at the store,” I tell GB. “I told him H has two loose teeth, and asked him his opinion on the going Tooth Fairy rate. He said he gave his kids $20 for each tooth. I told him I thought that was crazy!”
I notice a strange look cross GB’s face. Then I remember where I am and what I’m doing: standing at the boys’ bathroom sink, helping H brush his tiny chompers.
H looks at me quizzically. “$20 per tooth?” he asks.
I give him a hug to hide my face while I back pedal. “That was a long time ago…” I say eventually. “Mr. Scott’s kids are teenagers now. I don’t think the Tooth Fairy gives away that much change anymore. You know. Because of the Recession.”
I look at GB who shakes his head and laughs. “Good work,” I tell myself. “You’ve just added another idiot move to your growing collection.”
We spend the next few days doing everything we can think of to extract the wigglier of the two teeth. H takes to apples. Steak. Hard candy. Rigorous brushing. In the end, GB takes matters into his own hands—literally. It’s a quick and painless yank, and H is ecstatic.
He slides the tooth into the pocket of the Tooth Fairy pillow then places it under the cool side of his blue and red pillow case.
“You might not want to shove it under so far,” I say. “I’ll bet the Tooth Fairy is about Tinkerbelle’s size; the pillow might be hard for her to lift.”
H nods appreciatively at my advice and slides the tiny pillow to the edge of the bed.
“I should go to sleep!” he says. “I don’t want to be awake when she gets here!”
“Good thinking,” I say.
“You should get to sleep, too, Mama,” he says. “I don’t want you to ruin this for me.”
“I wouldn’t think of it,” I say.
Fifteen minutes later, my boy is in Snoozetown. Already he has turned away from his pillow to assist the transaction. Carefully, I swipe the tooth for the cash. When I retreat from his room on my tiptoes, I realize I’ve been holding my breath.
In the morning, I wake to find H snuggled warmly against my side. He’s reluctant to open his eyes until I remind him about his nighttime visitor. He rushes to his room, casts aside all pillows and blankets and finds two gold $1 coins where his tooth used to be.
Based on his new jack-o-lantern smile, it is exactly enough.
~*~ Find me on Twitter @37×37
~*~Visit the 36×37 facebook page