“Mommy wake up, something is wrong with my loose tooth.”
I squinted from a dead sleep to see her little mouth, opened wide, inches away from my face. Blinking for focus, I noticed her front tooth was twisted completely sideways, perpendicular to the rest of her teeth. My stomach lurched. It was hideous.
I calmed myself, “Honey, looks like it’s ready to come out. Let’s try to pull it.”
She went on to spent the whole day scaring everyone with her sideways tooth. She’d grin and people would shield their eyes and gasp. She’d giggle. “It’s just my loose tooth!” she would sing out.
The next morning she woke me up again.
“Mommy my tooth fell out! I woke up and felt something in my mouth. At first I thought it was a chocolate chip, but then I realized it was my tooth.”
I paused to contemplate a world where you wake up with chocolate chips in your mouth.
“This is great news. Tonight we can put in under your pillow for the tooth fairy.”
She skipped around all day, proud of her prize tooth in a ziploc bag. That night we made a big deal out of the tooth fairy ritual. With her little tooth wedged securely under her pillow we kissed her good night and turned out the light.
Hours later when my husband and I went to make the exchange, we couldn’t find the tooth anywhere. We swept our hands under the pillow. No tooth. We lifted her head and pulled the pillow up. No tooth. We slid our hands all around her, looked under the bed and lifted her covers. Still no tooth.
It was late and we had a decision to make. She had been looking forward to the tooth fairy’s visit, better to not disappoint her. I’ll find the tooth in the morning when I’m making her bed, I thought. We slid $4.00 under her pillow.
The next morning I woke up to her wailing hysterically. I ran into her room and found her sobbing, the dollar bills scattered in her lap.
“Honey, what’s wrong??”
“I want my tooth back!!
“But you got four dollars from the tooth fairy – hey, wow!!”
“I don’t want this money, I want my tooth. Ohhhh, my tooth. I miss my tooth.”
“But I thought you wanted the tooth fairy to come.”
“I did, but then I changed my mind and I hid my tooth in a drawer in the table next to your bed. When I looked this morning it was gone. Ohhh, my tooth, I miss my tooth!!!”
“Wait, why do you miss your tooth so much? It’s just a tooth.”
“Yes, but it was a special tooth, and I didn’t get to spend much time with it.”
Okay, I thought. The tooth must still be there. She must not have seen it in her hysteria. I could still find it and make a swap.
“Honey, tonight we can put the money under your pillow and ask the tooth fairy to bring back your tooth.”
After much cajoling that the tooth fairy would, of course, know which tooth was hers, she agreed to the plan. Later, however, when I went to get the tooth, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched all the drawers in my nightstand. I searched the floor. I searched under my bed. No tooth. Now what?
I came downstairs and found her sitting on the floor cross-legged jamming four dollar bills into her red plastic purse. The zilpoc bag with her tooth lay on the floor next to her. She looked up at me and grinned.
“Look Mommy, the tooth fairy didn’t take my tooth after all. And she still gave me money.”
“Yeah, but don’t you think you better give the money back?”
“Because she didn’t take your tooth.”
“So, she still gave me the money anyway.”
She had me there. I had no argument. She threw her plastic purse over her shoulder and brushed past me. I watched her go — happily toting her money, her tooth and most importantly, her version of the world…a world where fairies grant special dispensations and it’s possible to wake up with a mouth full of chocolate.
And that alone is worth four bucks.