About two weeks ago, I was flossing Zoey’s teeth before bed (yes, I actually do that occasionally) when I exclaimed with much surprise, “Zoey! You have a loose tooth!” One of her lower front incisors was noticeably wiggly. Zoey was also quite surprised and equal parts excited and nervous. As the days went on, and the tooth got wiggly-er, she grew more and more nervous. Finally, she sidled up to me one day and, in a small voice, said, “Mama, I’m scared about my tooth. I’m scared it’s going to hurt.”
I gave her a huge hug and told her it was okay to be afraid. I reminded her that this was something new and different, and that’s what makes it scary. I told her all about how the tooth fairy would come and take her tooth and leave money in it’s place, but I also told her what to expect about actually loosing the tooth. I told her it might bleed a little bit, but that bleeding doesn’t hurt. That it’s normal and doesn’t mean anything is wrong. I told her about how she’d have a gummy little hole where her tooth used to be and how she was going to want to poke her tongue into it all the time. And I told her, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay. Just know that this is all going to be okay and fun and exciting, I promise. Try not to worry too much about it. Try to enjoy having your first loose tooth.”
Zach had the great idea of having Zoey call and talk to her slightly older cousins who have also recently lost teeth. They reassured Zoey that it wouldn’t hurt and would be a lot of fun when the tooth fairy came. I think Zoey was starting to feel a bit better, but was still somewhat scared.
Finally, the day came when we were sitting at the dinner table. The meal was just about over and, on a whim, I asked Zoey if I could see her tooth. “Zoey!” I said, “This is ready to come out!” I could tell she was both excited and wanting to say yes but also scared again that it would hurt. Before she could think too much about it and make herself too scared, I grabbed a napkin, reached into her mouth and plucked the tooth out.
Zoey was so surprised! I gave her a little bit of gauze to stop the bleeding and showed her the itty bitty tooth in my hand. Her eyes were wide, but she wasn’t saying much. I don’t think she quite knew how to react yet. I asked her to look in the mirror at the fun new gap in her teeth. That was when she finally broke into a big smile and the excitement burst out. She was SO proud of herself! I told her how proud I was of her for being brave and letting me take the tooth out, even when she was scared.
That night, Zoey put the tooth in the pocket of the special Tooth Fairy Pillow I had made for her a couple days earlier. That kid wakes up so easily some times, and I just couldn’t see how I could climb up and dig for the teeny tiny tooth under her pillow without waking up both her and Eleanor who sleeps in the bottom bunk. So she hung the pillow on the foot of her bed near the ladder and promptly passed out.
Let me tell you, I have done CPR on people. I have touched the live brain of a patient undergoing brain surgery. I have assisted with countless life-saving, critical procedures in my years as a nurse. None of those moments have raised my blood pressure quite like sneaking into my kids’ room to play Tooth Fairy without waking them up. Dear God, the pressure! But I was successful, and Zoey woke to a shiny, gold Sacagawea dollar and a certificate from the Tooth Fairy, commemorating her first lost tooth.
I still haven’t figured out what exactly I’m going to do with the tooth. It doesn’t seem right to throw it away, but what use is there for old baby teeth? I think I’ll probably end up taping it into her baby book along with the certificate. It’s currently hidden away in a ziploc bag in my dresser.
In the meantime, Zoey already has her second loose tooth, right next to the first one. And she’s not even a tiny bit scared.