May 11, 2016

The tooth that got away


When I was small I was told that the tooth fairy and sometimes our Zulu tooth mouse (my mother’s creation), who lived in the basement, would come and fetch my fallen teeth during the night in exchange for a small amount of money. As most children do, I truly believed in this for a long time, until I was about 11 when I accidentally found all my teeth in my mother’s jewelry box. The moment I saw my little teeth glimmering between the gold and silver, along with all the letters that I lovingly wrote to the tooth collector, a little bit of my childhood died in me. No more planning how much money I would ask for. No more excitement to see if I might wake up when the fairy comes. No more mystery. And suddenly all the times that the tooth fairy forgot to come and collect the teeth made a whole lot more sense. I think my mom was slightly disappointed too when I told her of my discovery,there was no “momsplanation” that could save the situation because all the evidence was there.

Nevertheless, we continued with the tradition, just because it was fun, and most young kids in their teens would never forgo a bit of money to be spent on sweets at the tuck shop! I even had a new approach now that my poor mother’s secret was out of the bag- she had to start competing with other doting mother’s tooth contributions. Ugh, kids are so greedy sometimes.

One day, when nearly all of my teeth had fallen out, there was this incisor that I had been trying to get to budge out of its place, because the adult tooth was already there. We called it my “shark tooth”. After many hours of wiggling and wishful thinking it had finally reached  just the right level of looseness and it was time for my mom to remove it from its nest.So she fetched her string, tied it to the tooth…..and tugged. This was our tried and trusted method, but for some reason  it did not work so well this time, yes the tooth cam out, but the string was now tied onto that little fleshy part in your gums that is linked to your tooth. I was basically stuck with a piece of string in my mouth that we could not cut loose. As you could imagine, there were many tears involved, I cried like someone had killed my dog, or stolen my favourite piece of anything (you know how attached kids get to things, except for string in their mouths).

After a few minutes of sobbing on the couch in the living room with a string dangling out of my mouth, my aunt arrived for the tea date that she had arranged before all this happened. When she saw me I could see that she was feeling sorry for me, but at the same time I saw that she and my mom were trying very, very hard not to laugh. I don’t blame them, I would also have laughed if I could have seen it and it wasn’t happening to me. They decided that we needed to go to the doctor, and I consented graciously, after screaming and kicking and crying some more, because I was scared of what might happen at the doctor. After the trip to the doctor, some local anesthetic and a small cut, it was all over. The doctor also found my situation very amusing; I was the first of this kind of incident that he had ever dealt with. It’s tough to be a kid sometimes, but at least it all turned out well, and I knew that I could put my tooth out that night and the next morning there would be a few coins from the “toothfairy”, with a chance of an extra bonus because of all the trouble that I had been through. 😉

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