The Mystery of Kid Teeth

Chloes-ToothHave you ever wondered why if your hand fell off you wouldn’t grow another in its place?

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.



Being an “old-ish” mom, somewhere between fitting in Gap clothing and wearing Depends, I have found motherhood has its ups and downs.  Like when trying to remember what it was like when I did things as a child…pretty near impossible!

My oldest daughter asks, “Mom, when did you first ride a bike without training wheels?”

“I’m sure I rode a bike. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t the foggiest!” I say squinting my eyes and searching the ceiling for answers.

Or…the latest, “Mom, how much money did the Tooth Fairy bring you when you lost your first tooth?”

Now I have a mouth full of Big Girl Teeth, so I know I must have lost some baby ones during my younger days; but if you can’t remember them falling out, how can you be expected to retain the cash value for those babies?

“I believe I was given diamonds and rubies,” I retorted.  “A girl’s best friend, you know.”

“MAH-OM!!  You are joking, right?!”  Can’t put anything past this one!

“Honey, the Tooth Fairy is the one who makes these decisions and whatever the going rate is will be what you get.  It’s just exciting you have entered a new phase of tooth-dom!”

“What?” she gives me the look which I know will be repeated way too many times in her adolescence.

“Forget it,” I smile baring all my big girl teeth.  “Congratulations on losing your tooth.  Tomorrow we’ll see what this tooth fairy thing is all about!”

That night Munchkin #1 put her first bloody, hollow tooth into her precious Tooth Fairy pillow and placed it under her regular pink sleeping pillow.  Her younger sister was almost excited for the impending event; but since it wasn’t about her, why should she waste her energy?

The next thing we know it is morning and over the monitor we hear the squawking, “THE TOOTH FAIRY CAME!!!”  Have I ever mentioned how fast that kid can run?  Two-point five seconds later, she is practically beaning me in the head with 2 golden coins.

“Look, Mom!  I got a Sacagawea!” she started in her best high-pitched girl scream.

“First of all…you are in Kindergarten. How do you know who Sacagawea is?” I asked reaching for my glasses.

“And another one with some guy on it – but Sacagawea!!” she said flopping on the bed like she had just won the Powerball.

“That other guy is a U.S. President, not that I can focus on him yet to tell you who he is, but he was famous too.  These are gold coins the Tooth Fairy left you!”
“Gold? How much is it worth?” she eagerly inquired.

Inspecting the coins carefully I whispered, “It’s a gold dollar! Each one is worth ONE dollar.”

“ Kathy got FIVE dollars and she said her cousin got TWENTY dollars from the Tooth Fairy!!” she quipped.

“I hate to be the one to tell you, but you saw that tooth of yours…it was totally hollow.  I bet those other kids had diamonds or rubies in the middle of theirs.”



The Tooth Fairy is a Dirty Thief

My youngest daughter – from the land of oohs and Oz – Kansas City, is a creative child with a flair for the dramatic. She came into the world with a flourishing bow to the audience of doctors and nurses fully expecting applause for her great escape into the world.

When she is happy, she will let the world know for she has developed quite an extensive vocabulary for a Kindergartner and a knack for conversing easily with adults. Of course this happens after she has introduced everyone to each other and offered everyone a beverage. Really.

Another charming personality trait of Munchkin #2 is her love of babies. This is what I have been calling her since her sister, Munchkin #1, is only 14 months older and it’s challenging for an older mom like me to remember silly details like their given names.

My hubby and I have referred to Munchkin #2 as the “Southside Baby Whisperer,” for she has never met an infant or toddler who she hasn’t immediately bonded with. She even will tell the child’s parents what they need or want. And she’s usually correct. It’s quite a gift for a grade schooler. And to answer your question, she will begin babysitting at age 12.

With that said, anything that resembles a baby or is called a baby is precious and makes her go “ahhh!” without fail.

So when her first BABY tooth came out, she was thrilled as any child is; but a strange thing happened at bedtime.
We had the darling tooth fairy pillow her Grammy had made her all set. And we thought M2 was pumped to get her gold from the mysterious fairy of the night. Fairies are a big part of her world.

So she held onto the tooth through bedtime stories and nighttime songs; but when it came to lights out:

Honey, do you have your tooth in your pillow?!

No. She can’t have it.

The tears tumbled down her cherubic cheeks. It took everything in me not to join her in the tear duct release party. How could she not find joy in this exciting moment? She has always been my unique child and you have to love her for it! Then Munchkin #2 said between sobs:

I’m hiding the tooth. That fairy can’t have my cute lil baby tooth. I have enough money anyways.

*silence* (It’s late and you throw me a bone like that?)

Then she gets up to hide the pillow and tooth and hops back into bed.

I ask her, “Are you sure you want to do this? Maybe you could just wait a day or so and try then.”

Then her older sister who shares a room with her pipes in, “The tooth fairy only comes on the day you lose your tooth. I’m pretty sure about that.” Where is she getting these facts? Wikipedia? Tooth Fairies for Dummies 101?

Nope. I’m keeping the tooth. That fairy can’t steal my baby tooth.


So I give her a kiss and turn to go out the door…

“Mom, can you get me a box of tissues?” M2 asks. “I think I’m going to be crying.”

Stab me in the heart!! Obviously, we are not done with this. I grab a big box just in case I lose it too.

By the time I hand her the tissue, she is back to full blown mucus flow and eyes shooting out the waterworks.

“I just feel so awful. What should I do?” she pleads.

Normally, I would have her work it out by herself, but it was late and she was functioning on snow cone vapors and limited sleep so I stepped up to the plate and composed this letter with her – –

Dear Tooth Fairy,
Thank you for coming.
But is it OK if you leave me my tooth?
I really love it.
Love, M2

tooth fairy pillow


Tooth Fairy, thanks for having the clarity to listen to my child and not barreling over her and do what you usually do by taking the tooth. Since not all children are the same, it IS necessary for them to be treated differently at times and it surely made all the difference for her this morning. ~Munchkin#2’s Mama

Did your kids do anything interesting with the tooth fairy? I would love to chat about your experience. Leave a comment here or on Facebook.