We found a tooth!
Though to whom it belongs, we're not sure.
I thought it was Ryan's. One had fallen out the night before while he was eating a bowl of ice cream.
"Where's my tooth?" he asked, politely handing me his empty bowl rather than taking it to the sink himself.
"It's your tooth, you should keep track of it," I said. Though the truth was, I'd had it last; he'd handed it to me to store in a plastic sandwich bag for safekeeping, until he could find the tiny plastic tooth box the school nurse had given him for his first tooth.
He'd never given that first tooth to the tooth fairy. "I love my tooth," he'd cooed, having cradled it in his palm as he would a baby chick at the local farm every spring. Only my son would cuddle a tooth if he could.
And now not only had the plastic tooth box gone missing, but so had the tooth baggy. I searched the kitchen where our baggy transaction had taken place. I looked under the mail Daddy had just plopped onto the counter, under dishrags and dishtowels.
Ryan watched my frantic searching. "You actually lost my tooth?" He sounded as devastated as when I confessed to having flushed his fish down the toilet rather than burying it in the backyard.
"You hated that tooth," I said. Well, he did. He always complained of how the kids would tease him about how ugly and grey it was. A tooth damaged at age four when he thought he'd attempt to fly like a cardinal off the front steps.
"Not after I told the truth about it," Ryan said.
"About how you tried to fly?"
"No," he said rolling his eyes. "About how it was burnt by dragon fire."
Now it was me who was feeling sentimental about this particular baby tooth. It wasn't his first one, but it was his most notorious one. On the day he returned to the dentist for a recheck two weeks after the fall, as soon as we walked back in the front door, he fell smack on it again. An hour later we were back at the dentist who asked in all sincerity, "is this an April fool's joke?" It had been, actually, April 1st.
I told Ryan the baggy would "surface" and thankfully he moved onto something else; after your third tooth falls out, the losing-teeth event isn't so phenomenal.
So he forgot all about it in fact, until I had to remind him the next day – when I was sitting on the toilet, and there, nestled in the rug was a baby tooth.
I was gleeful. "Look what I found!" I said, bursting in on them where they were playing Legos.
Ryan wasn't as gleeful. He examined it, poked at it now, less like a chick than a fossil. "It's not grey."
I'd been too excited to examine its actual color – or to rationalize how it had escaped from the baggy downstairs to wind up in the rug upstairs.
He handed it to his brother. "It's Kenny's. It's not mine."
Kenny's? I felt my face flush. It was Kenny's. Because Kenny would actually give his teeth to the tooth fairy. He'd only lost one so far, one that actually had been extracted due to an infection – the reason this new-found-in-the-rug tooth was so squeaky clean; the dentist had shined it up for him.
And the night I'd snuck this squeaky-clean tooth out from under Kenny's pillow to replace it with a quarter (Yes, our fairy is cheap, won't leave bills), I was probably too tired to to think about safekeeping; I'd placed it on top of the medicine cabinet.
Where just that afternoon, I'd actually decided to run a duster across it. Thus, how it had fallen into the rug.
Ryan smirked; this ate at me. I didn't like how ready he was to disbelieve in the unbelievable of tooth fairies, as well as of Santa. Though perhaps rightly: Christmas morning he'd opened stocking presents proclaiming their price, as having wrapped in my sleep, I'd neglected to peel off the stickers: "Oh, neat! a Yoyo! Only a $1.99! Thanks, Santa!" (On the extreme other hand, he's a firm believer in dragons having actually existed, just before the dinosaurs.)
"Well, we don't know it's Kenny's tooth...." I fumbled. As much as Ryan had his doubts, Kenny at age six remained a firm believer, and I did not want him to piece it all together – to ask me point blank, well if the tooth-fairy really had taken his tooth, how did it wind up in the bathroom rug?
Thankfully, Kenny displayed no doubts, saying, "Well, whose ever it is, I'll take it," he said, and disappeared with it into his room.
What I didn't realize was that he'd actually put it under his pillow.
Which I didn't know until the next morning when he came downstairs, and crestfallen said, "The fairy didn't come."
"You said you didn't know if it was yours."
"But wouldn't she know?"
"She has a lot of teeth to keep track of..." how dubious can one mother sound?
He pouted at the tooth in his little open palm. Fact is, Kenny really likes finding coins under his pillow, cannot understand why his older brother would forsake real money to keep a stupid old tooth.
Now I don't know what has become of that tooth. But I'm certainly not going to open another can of teeth by asking what he did with it after he'd finished pouting.
And the baggy tooth still hasn't surfaced.
And to add tooth insult to tooth injury, on our last drive out to visit Gramma's, Ryan lost another tooth in the car.
"What should I do with it?" He'd asked, holding it up to me so I could see it in the rearview mirror.
Well what do you do with a baby tooth when it falls out in a moving vehicle? With no plastic tooth boxes nor baggies to be found?
You put it in the carseat cup holder. Which is what he did.
And then I got the car washed. And those guys are really good at scrubbing out those dirty pretzel-and-teeth filled carseat cup holders....
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