Our attention to dental hygiene has begun to produce results in Calamity Jane (CJ for short). Last year she lost her first tooth and learned about the dark side of the fairy tale creatures. The Easter Bunny brings candy. Santa brings presents. The Tooth Fairy has a more sinister goal. Black market sales of children’s teeth.
We worried and wiggled that damn tooth for three days. It was hanging by suction and atmospheric pressure. Maybe the alignment of the planets was holding it in place? After convincing her that it could very likely be sucked out of place by a loud snore and could possibly be swallowed, she agreed to more drastic measures. Dad was approved for extraction.
We prepare a wetted rag, comfortable area, towel for blood, and a video camera. I explained that I would first try to hold the tooth between my fingers just to see if it was slippery. The second time I would “wiggle” and see if it was ready. That tooth was ready. It had a hobo-knapsack over one shoulder and a thumb held out to passing cars. That tooth wanted out of there. CJ asked me to pull it out but I am ashamed at how much I wanted to pull it out and I did.
This is the video of the extraction.
I like the reaction of surprise, panic, and then curiosity. After that is when the questioning about the Tooth Fairy began.
To my timid and logical engineer-in-training the idea of a mythical creature gaining entry into her room, taking a part of her body, and leaving a tip on the dresser is disturbing. Her line of questioning made me realize that we were serving as “Teeth Pimps” for a creepy fairy with a tooth fetish.
CJ: Why does she need the teeth?
UD: I don’t know? Realistic voodoo dolls?
CJ: How does she get into the house?
UD: Hmmm. Air vents?
CJ: Will she make sure that I am asleep?
UD: I hope so.
CJ: Will she take my other teeth?
UD: Not tonight. But soon.
CJ: How much will I get?
UD: One dollar per tooth.
A moment of silent reflection passes before she asks, “Can I just keep my tooth?”
I don’t know if she was afraid or didn’t think the dollar was reasonable compensation. Maybe she was emotionally invested in the event and wanted a trophy. The extraction was painful for all of us.
Regarding the “correct” parenting thing to do, I am confused. Here I am trying to establish a story tale lie that goes along with an unspoken social contract. Other children understand the tooth fairy tale and it is my job to make sure my kid doesn’t ruin it for everyone else. May be fun but the other children that we are “protecting” may not be treated as favorably by Santa or the Easter Bunny. I have seen a recent trend towards big gifts from the Easter Bunny. One child received a bicycle for Easter! I know we can tie eggs to birth and new life and loosely to the resurrection but I know for sure that the Bible never mentions a Huffy 10-Speed. I would have seen that loop-hole as a child.
The same contract exits for Santa and the Easter Bunny and a whole host of truth that we will later admit were just “fun” lies. It was a lot of fun and mystery but I remember the depression of finding out the truth and realizing the world was a little more boring than I thought. It’s no wonder teenagers don’t trust their parents. Those jerks have been lying about everything for a decade.
The charade won’t be easy to maintain. The first tooth I pulled happened without thinking about the available cash the Tooth Fairy had on hand. It ended up being five dollars which was explained as an introductory bonus. More recently we completely forgot the tooth so the Tooth Fairy did too. For three days. We hastily explained that maybe CJ had stayed up too late and scared the Fairy away. Day number four was a success.
I realize that my answers could be more carefully constructed. I could sell the idea harder and get them more involved. I probably planted some deep fear of intruders stealing body parts that she will need to work through in therapy later in life. I’ll put it on the list of damages. Right now my goal is to make them aware of the social conventions without starting a habit of showering four kids with gifts every other month.
So if you support the false hope of fairy tale creatures this is for you. I reluctantly join in those ranks. You’re welcome.
Underdaddy to the rescue.