That's the Tooth

April 11, 2011

The Tooth Fairy. Easter Bunny. And the Big Kahuna, Santa Claus. My relationship with each of them has changed over time --- both Teen Spirit and La Principessa have led me down different paths with each. Take the Tooth Fairy, for instance. When Teen Spirit was losing his baby teeth, we explained the drill. His eyes grew wide with discomfort upon learning that the Tooth Fairy would retrieve the tooth and leave him some pocket change. The fact that some unknown creature was creeping around the house as we slept totally freaked him out.

Probably not a bad reaction, when you think about it.

So we had to get creative when it came to how Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny got down to business --- but with the Tooth Fairy I thought I could get away with fudging a little. He still wanted to know what TF did with all those teeth, but he was ok with a fairy the size of a fly swirling in through the chimney to visit. He was thrilled to report that as he fell asleep he had heard a faint buzzing near his ears. The Tooth Fairy grew into a familiar friend --- when he changed bedrooms a year later, we taped large neon arrows leading down the hall just to be sure she didn't get lost looking for him.

La Principessa, on the other hand, would have none of it. She didn't fear the Tooth Fairy -- it just made no sense to her. In fact, her reaction indicated her belief that we were all a bit daft. I thought maybe because of her disability that she just wasn't able to comprehend yet.  Shame on me.  She was just choosing her own path.

As that first tooth, started wiggling away from her gums, she excitedly flicked it with her tongue. We were all on high alert waiting for it to escape its tentative moorings. Her teachers, sitter and I debriefed daily. After about a week, her teachers called and apologized that the tooth was out and they weren't able to save it. I assumed she had swallowed it as she was eating. No, apparently dissatisfied with the progress of Mother Nature, she just reached in and yanked it out. Like seriously twisted and tore it out.  She stared at it in bloody disbelief and yelled, "Trash" and marched it off the plank into the wastebasket. The teachers retrieved it several times but she kept repeating "Trash" and tossing it again.  They eventually gave up.

Later that day, she recounted her adventure. Her verbal skills are evolving but she can let you know what's her mind: "Tooth ...OUT...Trash," while shrugging her shoulders. More pantomime of her tugging it out. Shoulda named it Excalibur for all that gripping and pulling in the retelling.  We all asked at various times, "What about the Tooth Fairy? Don't you want your treat?" To each of us, she'd reply with a shrug and a quizzical look. She muttered "ai- ree?" -- Fairy? --- loosely translated as "Fairy?".  She made the sign for "silly" as she chuckled.

Since then six more teeth have followed -- each ripped out in a bloody mess and tossed in the garbage. She signs her admonishment, warning me not to sneak back to get it. I was looking forward to spinning fanciful yarns for her, taping directions to her room and tweaking our tradition to suit her needs. But I didn't expect to be dealing with the Xena Warrior Princess of Extraction. I got over the disappointment of losing that moment with the Tooth Fairy.  Sure that was fun while it lasted but it's no comparison to the pride and awe of watching Xena do her own dental work.

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