I have seen my fair share of wiggly teeth and have had the pleasure of sending my fair share of students to the school nurse with their fallen teeth because I just couldn’t. Loose teeth that then fall out are in my top 2 least favorite aspects of my teaching career. I’m dead serious and this is a very close second after other bodily fluids. In my experience, the majority of kids will just wiggle and yank on their tooth until they pull it out. I mean the poor tooth is just trying to hang on by a thread, literally, and the kids won’t give it a rest or let it be. Not only is this incredibly unsanitary, but also the smell of saliva is just too much for me. The bloody tooth and bloody smile are a real treat (insert sarcasm). I just realized I have had my disgusted face on while writing this thus far; the one with gritted teeth and the weird, not a smile.
With my son, I didn’t have a school nurse option. My husband is pretty good about things like this, but these things tend to happen when he is at work. Go figure. But the loss of my son’s first tooth was pretty ordinary, albeit fast. We were in San Diego visiting my parents and he informed us early afternoon, by screeching in his most excited voice, that his tooth was loose. We talked about it and what it means. He was a little nervous and apprehensive, but also pretty proud. The Tooth Fairy idea had already been introduced to him by his friends and he told me all about her. This kid was looking forward to the visit and said, “it’s okay if it hurts a little or has blood because I’ll still get something.”
Shocking not shocking he kept playing with his loose tooth and by nightfall he presented his bloody little prize. Not only was I less than excited to see the tooth, but also totally caught off guard. I thought for sure that I had at least a day to figure out my game plan, but no such luck. I ran upstairs, scoured my mom’s jewelry box, recklessly dumped a pair of her earrings out of their little velvet sack and took it back to my son. He put his tooth in it and we did the standard under the pillow thing.
I do tend to go overboard on celebrations and make things really big for my kids. I’ve always thought it was because I was no longer teaching and didn’t have anywhere else to place my creative energy. I also am of the mindset that bigger is better with a few exceptions, one being my appetite. So the night my son lost his first tooth, I took the little tooth out of the bag velvet sack and frantically put it in the change pouch of my wallet. I know… some way to treat his precious tooth, but in my defense this was my first time being the Tooth Fairy.
Given that all I had was change (as in coins), credit cards, and a mile long receipt from my earlier visit to CVS, I had no choice but to “borrow” money from my parents. I selected the only dollar amount I could find and I may or may not have added glitter glue to the bill, (note: this is against the law, but glitter really does make everything better, well except the floor). After frantically waving the money around to dry the glue because getting out the blow dryer was too much effort, I tucked the money in the sack. I tucked it under his pillow and planned a special breakfast.
After having had very little sleep, what with being the Tooth Fairy and all, my son woke me with another loud screech and jumped carelessly on top of me. These are the moments I’m sure I will miss when he is older, but for now… Gah! By this time he ditched the velvet sack and presented me with his $20 bill. He rambles on and tells me all about the Tooth Fairy. That he knew she came because she made loud noises. Note to self: maybe cool it on the wine intake when trying to be stealth and quiet. Still half asleep and debating forgoing the breakfast for sleep, he carried on. I was tempted to send him off to show my parents his reward, but I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. Shocked at the amount of information he was giving me about how the Tooth Fairy got in, watched all of us as we slept (creepy), and “splattered her dust on the dollar just for [him],” I knew then that the final phrase was going to stick with me.
We went down to breakfast and he showed off his money to his grandparents that immediately looked at me with fake smiles plastered to their faces. The look they gave me was one of shock, confusion, and mostly one that questioned my sanity. I replied with, “the Tooth Fairy was so generous, but also maybe she didn’t have any smaller bills on her.” We sat and ate the ridiculous pancakes that I made in the very abstract shape of a tooth and enjoyed the little celebration complete with milk in champagne glasses for a toast of health to the new tooth. Then he went off to change out of his jammies and soon flew by on his way out to play.
I decided to head back upstairs for a nap (thank goodness for grandparents)! Walking down the hall to my old bedroom, there in the middle of the floor was the glittered twenty dollar bill! This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Irritated, I bent over and picked up the thoughtfully glittered bill and decided that I earned it.
Here’s what got to me. First, he called it a dollar! He was young, I get that, but a dollar?! The kid could count. He could read his numbers and for the most part he had great number sense, but had zero knowledge of the value of a dollar. Secondly, he very carelessly discarded the money the Tooth Fairy gave him when he went to change. Seriously?! It was then and there that I learned my lesson. No five year old was going to take advantage of me. I told myself that the Tooth Fairy would never again trade such money for a gross tooth. Also, I knew I had my work cut out for me. One, teach the value of a dollar. Two, teach him not to just leave things around carelessly. Thus far I’ve been successful at teaching him the dollar, (insert hand on face emoji).