Ancient History

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The second tooth is the hardest tooth

We are terrible toothfairies and it’s getting worse. Nine kids multiplied by twenty baby teeth equals 180 opportunities to screw up. The little pearlies are mounting. It’s like that scene in “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” where Aragorn is in that haunted mountain talking to the ghost king, surrounded by towering heaps of skulls. It’s like that here, but with teeth.

If only I had an army of maid ghosts to unleash on my baseboards. Once sparkling, I’d hold them true to their oaths and release them to the eternal rest of “I Love Lucy” reruns.

Archie recently lost his second baby tooth. He’s in first grade, which is when teeth start dropping on a regular basis. His first lost tooth was an exciting event for all, but especially him. He’d get ten bucks, our bounty for the first tooth. This is like one million dollars in five-year-old money. The mood was celebratory and everyone was happy for him, sharing their own first-tooth stories.

Nearly a year passed before the lost tooth’s neighbor loosened. A few nights ago, during dinner, Archie went into baby tooth labor.

There was blood when he bit into his garlic chicken. There was pain. There was a dash to the powder room for a status check. There was a wail.

A few of the older kids followed him and shouted reports and advice. “It’s barely hanging on!” “Just pull it!” “The Toothfairy will come!” “You can do it!” But Archie answered these affirmations with screams.

He couldn’t do it! It was going to hurt! Nobody understands! Those of us still eating our garlic chicken noted the second tooth is the hardest. With the first, you don’t know what to expect. With the second, you do but you don’t have the life experience to teach you it’s not a horrible as you remembered. I thought about intruding on the scene, but the kids were being wonderfully sweet and encouraging.

I’m proud to say the older kids became his Toothdoulas. They coached him and encouraged him until it was born and placed in a felt bag attached to a stuffed Daffy Duck, as all babies are.

Archie doesn't have a tooth pillow. He wanted Daffy Duck to be the bearer of his baby teeth.

Archie doesn’t have a tooth pillow. He wanted Daffy Duck to be the bearer of his baby teeth.

That night, Archie slumbered with Daffy nestled near, waiting for a fairy to tiptoe to his side to trade one tooth for one dollar. She never came. She totally spaced it and remembered the next day while she was at the doctor with another kid. She texted her colleague, who stealthily managed to make the trade so that Archie was rewarded after school.

But Archie had completely forgotten about the Toothfairy, too. “Oh! Yeah! A dollar.” Six-year-olds know a dollar is basically ten cents.

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