Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Boy Who Cried Tooth



“Dear Tooth Fairy,

Gee, I know I’m bucking many many years of time-honored tradition here, but you see I just lost my first tooth – a bottom front – and I want to get something for that, but I also really want to keep the tooth itself. What I’m going to do is put the tooth in a plastic Ziploc, and place it under my pillow as proof that I lost it, and you can leave the usual goodies under the pillow. I know this bucks protocol, but really what use could you possibly have for a wee small tooth. As for me, I am what you call a collector, so I’d sure like to keep it.

Your Toothless Friend,

Joey”

Well, that was the gist of the letter I was going to write on Joe’s behalf on his self-described “lucky day,” when the tooth he’d been progressively wiggling finally came out. The adult tooth was already coming in behind, and quickly repositioned itself once the baby tooth fell out. The letter had to be altered because Joe learned a hard lesson – never play with something of value on the wooden deck if the valued possession is significantly smaller than the space between the deck boards. Just like that the tooth joined whatever it is that lives beneath our deck, evidence to be found later when they investigate allegations of child abuse – “Mosquito, huh Hatcher – do they land on your kids teeth as well, you SOB?”

A lost tooth immediately dashed Joe’s hopes of scoring a toy without having to give up the enamel goods. Now he was looking at an 0-for, unable to produce any proof to the tooth fairy. This is when dad has to step in and lie through his teeth (so to speak) about his own childhood, recalling factually similar circumstances in which the tooth fairy still managed to deliver the goods. Speculation based upon decades of life experience as to the likely actions of the tooth fairy given the specific facts at hand is not sufficient to quell the fears of a kid who has lost his first tooth – he needs rock solid evidence that his pillow will shelter some tiny treasure by morning. So I concocted a story about my losing a tooth back in the day and writing a letter inviting the tooth fairy to pry open my lips to inspect the empty socket as proof.

Now, we are working on tooth number 5, with numbers 3 and 4 coming within 3 days of each other, straddling Chirstmas day itself. And the upper front teeth to boot. For about a week and a half, he was getting long in the tooth for both of them, to the point where we were calling him SpongeJoe. When he lost that fourth, I was visited by a muse that had me up through the night writing the lyrics and the music to a little diddy I call “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth.” No small feet for a guy who can’t read music or play any instruments. I got the little guy up at 3 in the morning for a recording session; though listless at first, after a couple cups of coffee he was singing like a canary with a slight lisp. Anyway, after shipping it off to the record company I come to find out some thief recorded the same song decades ago. Story of my life.

The third tooth, like the first, was lost before the tooth fairy could even be persuaded to leave it behind. I came home from work, the last before my vacation days prior to Christmas, to find everyone in the basement. Joe beckoned me down to the basement to see, while Bill came running up to show me a ginger bread house he had made at school. Bill, with no lost teeth despite being as many as five minutes older than Joey, was left alone near the counter where lost tooth #3 was allegedly sitting, as I went down to have Joey show me the surprise. Wow Joe! Where is it? We go up to find it, and it has vanished into thin air. I partly suspect Billy, who despite being five minutes older than Joey has lost no teeth, swept that tooth right into the garbage disposal, but I have no proof outside the common sense observations that a kid who is five minutes older than another kid cannot abide being down 3 to 0, and that solid enamel does not tend to sublimate.

So again, some quick thinking was in order as we all hypothesized about what might have happened, while Joe worked himself into an increasing panic. I suggested to Jenelle that we put Billy under some hot lights, deprive him of sleep, and desecrate his Koran until he coughed up the truth, but she ran upstairs, put a couple of bucks under Joey’s pillow, and came down to suggest that maybe the Tooth Fairy had so many lost teeth today that she had to get an early start, so maybe he ought to check under his pillow. And there it was.

Next morning he wrote a letter himself asking for it to be returned. For Christmas he got a box to collect things, and excitedly said that now the tooth fairy wouldn’t be able to “swipe” his tooth. A couple days later he lost the fourth. But in between, Bill lost his first, though the little bugger has yet to confess his crime. And just the other yesterday, while driving with the kids, Billy announced excitedly that he just lost another tooth. He didn’t – he was just trying to get a rise out of us. As soon as he confessed he hadn’t, Joe said in a dry and superior tone: “the boy who cried tooth.”

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatch,

I think you should save the tooth fairy money, and put it into a savings account for the inevetible orthodonist bills.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

You said something about shoving a couple of bucks under his pillow; is that the going rate these days? Sheesh!

6:59 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

Hatcher probably meant to say dinars. Leftovers from his travels with Vijay. A few of them are worthless, but not to the wide eyes of Joe and Billy.

Either that or he really did put a few bucks per tooth under the pillow. Trickle-down economics at work.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story.

Who is Jenelle? Have you named the wife of Hatcher??

9:38 PM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Good catch - Jenelle is indeed the Wife of Hatcher.

6:50 AM  

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