It’s been almost a year since my Samantha lost her first baby tooth.
Since then, we’ve managed to finagle only one more out of her mouth — thanks to a little brother slamming his head into her by accident — even though she has at least four loose teeth.
She won’t wiggle them because she hates the feeling. And that obviously precludes our being allowed to wiggle them for her.
Even getting her first tooth out was a production. Here’s what happened early on the morning of Thanksgiving eve last year:
Sam and I got up, got dressed and tumbled out the door. When we got to the dentist’s office, Sam was antsy, trying unsuccessfully to distract herself by coloring.
When it was time, we went back to one of the chairs, her gums were numbed with rub-on anesthetic and an ice cube, and the dentist snuck the forceps up to her mouth without her being able to see them.
And then — YANK! — the tooth was out.
She didn’t like the blood. But oh, was she excited. “Look, Mom! Look how little my tooth is!” she said over and over. “It’s so cute! It’s just a baby! Aw! Look, Mom!”
She even made it to school on time.
That night, we prepared the tooth for its trip to Tooth Fairyland. We’d been reading books about the Tooth Fairy and losing teeth, and Sam was sure she knew just where her tooth was going to go. “Right to the Hall of Perfect Teeth,” she said confidently.
The tooth — or Toothie, as she named it — didn’t go under her pillow. As we’d read and talked about the Tooth Fairy, she’d clearly stated that she didn’t want a fairy coming into her room and poking around under her head as she slept. She wasn’t even totally OK with the idea of a magical flying creature coming into her room at night, but she at least agreed to put the tooth beside her bed.
So we put a cotton ball into the porcelain tooth-shaped box Nana bought her a few years ago. “It’s a good thing we lost the lid to this, Mom,” Sam said, “because the Tooth Fairy is way too little to lift it.” Then I pulled up Sam’s covers and went to kiss her goodnight.
“Wait!” she said. “Toothie looks cold.”
So she grabbed a tissue from her nightstand and covered up Toothie, leaving just the tip of it sticking out.
“OK,” I said. “Time to go to sleep. I love you.”
Kisses and hugs, then I went downstairs to watch some TV.
Twenty minutes later, there were footsteps on the stairs. Sam’s face, marked with tears, appeared.
“What’s wrong?” I said, already knowing where this was going.
“Mom,” she whispered, “I’m really going to miss my tooth.”
I beckoned her over to the couch and held her. When I suggested that she write a note to the Tooth Fairy to ask if she could leave her tooth behind, Sam nearly rocketed out of my arms.
“YEAH!” she said. “That’s a GREAT idea!”
We wrote the note together — on bright green paper so the Tooth Fairy couldn’t miss it — then Sam ran upstairs and put it on top of the tooth.
By then, she was wide-awake and needed time to decompress. During the next 20 minutes, she asked at random intervals: “Do you think the Tooth Fairy came yet?”
“No, Sam,” I said every time. “The Tooth Fairy is like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; she only comes when you’re asleep.”
Finally, FINALLY, we both got to bed. I, however, had to write a reply from the Tooth Fairy — who has very curlicued handwriting, in case you’re wondering — and find a way to sneak it and the 50-cent piece up to her room as she stayed glued to my side.
One year later, the Tooth Fairy has made only that one return visit. A recent trip to the dentist yielded no concerns and brought only mild “you better get wiggling!” comments.
Yes, she better get wiggling. Because this Tooth Fairy is starting to feel a little rusty.