Toenails and fingernails typically grow back. Skin cells, hair follicles and oddly enough, tonsils can reappear. But over the ages, tooth mysteries have had populations chattering the most.
The collective attention to growing a tooth is intriguing. For example, if a child’s at a family gathering and shows off his new up-front-and-center incisor, thunderous applause ensues. Relatives might raise a toasting glass to celebrate this amazing achievement that the child had nothing to do with. In turn, when that child loses the same tooth several years later, for some weird reason it’s just as monumental of an occasion.
Cheers! You didn’t need that rotten tooth after all!
If you’ve paid attention to young parents on social media, you are aware that a child’s first tooth loss experience often morphs into a bidding war. Over-achieving parents boast how their Tooth Fairy is far more generous than the rest of the world. A monetary version of “mine is bigger than yours.” Shy new parents observe from the gallery, comparing if their toothless wonder was ripped off by the Tooth Fairy. Cheap fairies are the worst!
“When I was a kid I only got a quarter for a tooth. Can someone direct me to the current inflation chart? I need to check if what Bobby got under his pillow is the going rate?”
Recently, my daughter pulled out one of her second molars. It’s the mammoth of a tooth located in the far back of the jaw, used for chewing and grinding.
Congrats, my brave daughter for taking care of it yourself.
Sounds good, right? The only problem was it wasn’t ready to be removed. Earlier in the evening, she wanted me to wiggle it. That baby tooth wasn’t near ready for excavation. I told her to keep on wiggling it, so she might get a Tooth Fairy visit within the next week. Alas, my kid needs to work on patience.
When I inquired why she played dentist on herself, she said she needed the money. Before you call social services on me, my two daughters get an allowance for contributing around the house. But since it’s the end of the school year, they have been shirking their duties and not finishing their work. Instead of yelling or beating my head against the wall, I have been withholding funds for several months. I figured when they needed the money, they would return to their jobs.
I had no idea that she would think pulling her barely wiggly tooth would be worth a dollar. That’s what our Tooth Fairy has brought her the last decade, so she had a good idea of profits.
Upon waking to a neatly folded up dollar bill stuffed in her tooth pillow, she exclaims that she was robbed. “I figured if I pulled out a huge one, I’d get more money than a dollar!”
Needless to say, the girls have returned to their daily chores, and I’m shelling out the dough. Can you imagine how much she would get for a permanent tooth? This mom is not willing to find out.
So after hiding all the pliers in the house, I’m going to lean toward preventive parenting. Perhaps reading “The Little Engine That Could” at bedtime all these years backfired and we should have focused on the virtue of patience.
“I’d like to thank the Academy of Pediatrics for this Mother of the Year award …” and thunderous applause ensues.
Previously published in The Kansas City Star on May 14, 2016.