When my siblings and I were little and we lost a tooth, we would excitedly place the tooth under our pillow and drift off to sleep with dreams of the BIG GIANT one dollar bill that would take its place. Oh but Tooth Fairy, aren’t you an unjust little thing, because don’t think we didn’t know that Claire and Abby down the street got FIVE DOLLARS per tooth. What, are their teeth better than ours? NO, they eat just as much candy as we do, and you are probably not as sparkly as people say you are, so chomp on that with your huge collection of tiny child teeth, which BY THE WAY, is a terrifying and alienating hobby, but we look forward to your TLC show.
Upon waking, we would look under our pillow, and see… nothing. DANGGIT TOOTH FAIRY YOU HAVE SHORTED US AGAIN!!! We’d go whine to Mom because that’s what children do (don’t whine to Dad, it’s unproductive), and she’d always remind us that we “waller” a lot. “You know you waller so much when you sleep! Maybe it’s under the bed or in the sheets somewhere!”
“OH YEAH, WE WALLER!” we’d cry with relief, bounding back up the stairs in search of our wallering victim, the illusive one dollar bill. BINGO, there it was, right under the bed. (Quick save, Dad.) Upstairs, we cheer excitedly. Downstairs, Mom and Dad wipe the sweat from their mom and dad brows and high five. They’ve always been quite the duo.
But then, upstairs, the panic returns with the glimpse of a pearly little tooth right there in the sheets, the second victim of our wallering. WHAT! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Back downstairs we stomp, totally aghast. “MOM! WE TOLD YOU THE TOOTH FAIRY HATES US! SHE DIDN’T EVEN TAKE OUR TOOTH!!! WHY DOESN’T SHE WANT OUR TOOTH?” (I’m just going to let my siblings and I be one collective voice here, because we all did this, and for the record, my parents loved it. Also we are almost always yelling, so yeah, all caps. THEY LOVE THAT PART, TOO.)
“Oh don’t you remember? We told her that I like to keep your teeth, so she just leaves the dollar without worrying about taking the tooth. Isn’t that nice?”
“Oh. Yes. YES!”
Then Mom would take our tiny little tooth, put it in a tiny little baggie, and stuff it in the kitchen cabinet. Satisfied, we’d move on to losing our minds about something else, like whether or not Mom had successfully gotten syrup in every square of our Eggo waffle.
“I NEED MORE SYRUP IN THIS SQUARE MOOOOOM!” Aren’t we adorable!
A math problem: If Wendy has three children who lose all their baby teeth the regular way except for two teeth that were swallowed while eating a hotdog, how many plastic baggies does Wendy need to properly store each tooth in the kitchen cabinet so that her children do not fear that the Tooth Fairy hates them?
The answer is TOO MANY BAGGIES. I hate math.
Let’s fast forward several years. Brother Phillip somehow graduated from college, got a cool job, got responsible, and landed a new girlfriend, Melanie, who is, let’s be honest, way out of his league. The whole family and Melanie are sitting around the dining room table chatting, except that our chatting is really just lots of friendly yelling and reminding Sister Adeline that she once painted her legs purple. Somehow we get to talking about the tooth baggies. How have we waited to long to discuss the tooth baggies? We remember the wallering, the discovery of the tooth, how Mom wanted to keep our teeth, the baggies. OH THE BAGGIES.
Us: “MOM THAT’S SO WEIRD THAT YOU KEPT OUR TEETH IN BAGGIES!”
Mom: “I always meant to get a nice box or something to put them in, but I never did.”
Us: “PEOPLE MAKE TOOTH BOXES? IS THAT A THING? WHY IS THAT A THING?”
Pretty quickly we’ve moved on to something else, and Mom slips away from the table.
When she returns, she’s cry-laughing, clutching one lone baggie full of teeth.
Me: “MOM, WHAT IS THAT.”
Phillip: “WHY DIDN’T YOU THROW THEM AWAY?”
Adeline: “WE ARE IN OUR TWENTIES. THESE HAVE GOT TO GO.”
Phillip: “WHY ARE THEY ALL IN ONE BAG?!”
Adeline: “MOM, DID YOU AT SOME POINT CONSOLIDATE ALL OF THE TEETH INTO ONE BAGGIE WHEN YOU WERE REORGANIZING THE CABINETS OR SOMETHING?!”
Finally Mom catches her breath: “Well what am I supposed to do? I didn’t want to just throw them away!”
Phillip: “YES MOM. YES. YOU JUST THROW THEM AWAY. THESE ARE SO DISGUSTING.”
Upon further analysis, we realize that the bag also contains a note, written in the scrawl of one Adeline Powers: “Dear Tooth Fairy, Please do not take my tooth. My mother likes to keep them.”
Phillip: "OH MY GOSH THAT NOTE MOM! THAT IS YOUR LEGACY THAT YOU LIKED TO KEEP OUR TEETH."
Me: "AND OF COURSE ADELINE WROTE A NOTE LIKE THAT."
Adeline: "LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M ADORABLE."
I look at my daughter Adelaide, just a little over a year old. She’s only got like five teeth, but aren’t they cute?
Me: “I’ll probably keep Adelaide’s teeth.”
Mom is validated, but my siblings are horrified. “NO YOU WON’T!” they say. “WE WON’T LET YOU! THE MADNESS HAS TO STOP!”
But I will. I’M KEEPING HER TEETH IN DUSTY OLD TOOTH BAGGIES AND THEN ONE DAY WHEN I’M ON A CLEANING SPREE I WILL CONSOLIDATE THEM INTO ONE BAG SO THEY TAKE UP LESS ROOM AND LOOK MORE TERRIFYING AND THEN WE WILL REDISCOVER THE DUSTY OLD BAG WHEN SHE IS 28 IN FRONT OF HER BROTHER’S NEW GIRLFRIEND AND IT WILL BE HILARIOUS AND DISTURBING and also I just love her tiny little teeth.
To Melanie, who put up with that conversation. You go girl.