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What Do You Do With My Teeth?

We'ev Got a Lot of Kids

Let me explain: I’ve been busy, work; my wife and our four kids: busy too. My people call their people; we do lunch. So we’ve all been quite busy; I love writing my columns, I love my wife and kids and I love my readers. You’re all fine, I swear.

Our youngest daughter Gracie, seven, has recently lost almost all of her front teeth, sometimes two at a time, so there’s been plenty of visits from the Tooth Fairy lately.

The Tooth Fairy usually provides a crisp fiver, per tooth, or sometimes the rough equivalent in shiny laundered quarters and dimes and nickels. So the loss of her front teeth has been a nice little cottage business for Gracie; the other day she had like thirty-five bucks in her little zippered vinyl coin purse.

So all of our kids are vigilant for wiggly teeth. Like pigeons pecking at shiny things, in a quiet moment they’ll reflexively give each tooth a tug in turn. Mom! Dad! I have a loose tooth! We examine the alleged wiggly tooth, prodding it front to back, side to side.

I suspect our youngest boy Alec of sometimes helping things along a little, forcing teeth to wiggle that weren’t actually ready to come out yet.

For several days, Gracie would point to her loose tooth and demonstrate its wiggle to anyone with ears to hear. A couple teeth got wigglier and wigglier from repeat demonstrations, they hung by a thread for days and eventually fell out unassisted; others got embedded in caramel and were yanked out too soon. But the majority were pulled by Mrs. Haulman, Gracie’s kindergarten teacher of last year.

Similar to those with an inborn talent for dowsing, Pam seems to have been given the gift of pulling teeth. She’s really very good at it.

All of the teeth were placed carefully under Gracie’s pillow in a little suede pouch, to be discovered by the Tooth Fairy while she slept.

In most cases the Tooth Fairy wrote a nice little note and remitted the traditional crisp fiver the same night the tooth was placed, but like my wife Maria and me, sometimes the Tooth Fairy gets swamped and will miss one or even two nights, forgetting to stop by the deli to get change for a twenty or to make the trip to the cash machine. And after all, the Tooth Fairy can’t just write a check; Tooth Fairies don’t have bank accounts.

Perhaps feeling that a closer relationship was building with the Tooth Fairy, with all those notes and crisp fivers and teeth under her pillow lately, Gracie created a ten or twelve-page illuminated manuscript in colored markers, peppered with personal questions for the Tooth Fairy: what’s it like being a Tooth Fairy? What’s your name? Where do you live? Can I visit you?

Inside the envelope were trinkets Gracie left for the Tooth Fairy, a little Barbie necklace, a small stamped-metal key to a diary or a small jewelry box, three Altoids.

How did you become a Tooth Fairy? What exactly do you do with my teeth?

Gracie shouted when she found the little suede satchel under her pillow, stuffed with five bucks and a letter from the Tooth Fairy answering each of Gracie’s questions.

The Tooth Fairy had filled the front and half the back of an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven sheet in flowery purple script, folded it in half four times, and crammed it in the tiny suede satchel.

It might have taken the Tooth Fairy three hours to write it with her special purple fairy pen, late at night after the kids were asleep; painstakingly writing out responses to each of Gracie’s questions in the Tooth Fairy’s idiosyncratic curlicue purple script.

What do you eat? Do you have a family? Can I be a Tooth Fairy too?

Gracie studied the note, learning that our Tooth Fairy is a trainee; she lives far away so it wouldn’t be practical for Gracie to visit, and the fairies were planning on using Gracie’s teeth as part of a garden wall.

She thanked Gracie for her little presents, and let her know that someday, maybe when Gracie grows up, she might get to be a Tooth Fairy too.