Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Has the EPA Taken a Look at the Tooth Fairy?

Marriage is one of those social contracts, if I can borrow from Rousseau, that keeps things running smoothly. About eight years into mine I realized that my dear husband was not living up to his end of things in one important area, leaving me to deal with hazards and pains alone and unaided.

About the time Grace turned six she came to me in a state of panic that one of her teeth seemed to be migrating from its home and was now hanging precariously by one remaining corner, swaying in and out with every breath she took. I took one look and said, “No problem, it’s just a loose tooth that needs to come out, go get a piece of dental floss and take it to your Dad and he’ll take care of that.”

She came back a few minutes later with her dental floss drooping and said that her dad wouldn’t touch it. Confused, I turned her around and returned with her to the living room where Andrew sat reading his paper and said, “Grace didn’t understand something and said you sent her back to me to get her tooth pulled.”

He looked up and said with a look of panic that washed away the foundation under my feet, “I can’t pull it—I thought you’d do that!”

It became immediately apparent that that was one matter we’d failed to discuss during courtship: who was responsible for pulling out the baby teeth, he’d assumed it would be me and I assumed—and I think quite correctly after having a father who took great pains to come up with creative, deceptive and usually painless techniques for tooth removal—that it was the man’s job.

You know, along with taking out the trash, smashing spiders, opening pickle jars, and being used as a general threat and leverage such as in, “Go sit on your bed and wait until your father comes home”—he was supposed to be the one with the stomach for blood and surgery enough to provide that simple service.

After trying to reason with him for several minutes in vain I retired, disgusted, to the bathroom where I took out the tooth and all was well. I hoped that he’d be up to the task when the next one came around but here it is, five years later and still he won’t touch a loose tooth to save his life.

So when David came last night with his front tooth hanging like a door falling off its hinges I didn’t even bother with the man but quickly got a piece of floss and in between flipping crepes pulled that baby right out.

David was thrilled because it now means he’s got money coming and placed his tooth in the specially-made tooth-shaped pillow his kindergarten teacher made for all her students for just such an occasion.

The problem is, I can never remember to do the Tooth Fairy thing, by the time ten o’clock rolls around all I can think of is my head on the pillow and I don’t know how many times the kids have woken up to find their tooth still there under the pillow. I have come up with really creative explanations as to why the Tooth Fairy didn’t come, everything from, “She’s off duty every other Wednesday” to “The Tooth Fairy ATM was closed last night” to “Hey, look! She got confused and put it under Dad’s pillow instead!”

But last night I was good and remembered to deposit all my change (totaling seventy-one cents) in exchange for one pulpy, slightly bloody tooth which I tossed in the back of my bedside table drawer. Why would I save it? Well you never know when those little teeth might come in handy.

You see science fair projects are required at Northern Lights and this spring Grace wanted to do the tried and true classic of soaking teeth in various beverages to see the effects each has on tooth enamel. However, times have changed. It used to be that the conversation with the local dentist went something like this, “Excuse me, I’m doing a science fair project on the effects of beverages on tooth enamel and need to collect some teeth. Do you have any?” Whereupon the dentist would happily comply, glad to be of service to a future generation of budding scientist. Or at least budding soft drink consumers.

However, today the conversation went something more along the lines of: “blah blah blah . . . Do you have any?” to which the good dentist replied, “I’m sorry, I have plenty of teeth but my insurance prohibits me from the distribution of said teeth, which delineates said teeth in paragraph 35, subsection 6 of my policy as ‘a Known Biohazard.’ In fact, they’re so dangerous that I don’t think children should be allowed to have teeth at all. Here, gimme yours. The EPAs going to fine you just for asking.”

Needless to say, we can’t have children lurking in dark corners with Known Biohazards so she came back empty-handed. Not that I blame the dentist—he was really nice and I certainly bear no grudge for him saying no, I wouldn’t want him risking liability over a science project (though he did use the word “biohazard” which makes one smile a bit) but it made us switch Plan B.

I had to use the kids’ own teeth. But to be fair, I took one from each of them rather that all of them from Grace. Just kidding. I actually went to my secret stash of teeth in the back of my bedside table. Yes, that same drawer where after doing her Tooth Fairy duties, the Tooth Fairy stashes the teeth she’s collected mostly because she’s tired and wants to get to bed and is too lazy to walk downstairs and throw them away. So, you guessed it. I’d forgotten that I had a Known Biohazard in my possession the whole time, in the back of the drawer! Problem solved! And there was much rejoicing! Although, it was hard explaining to David and Spencer why I’d have a stash of teeth in my drawer . . . What kind of a secret life does Mom have anyway??

Grace was well on her way to the science fair and a solid Noble prize nomination, additionally quite convinced that she’ll never drink Coke again after seeing what it did to that molar of hers. Pretty sick. Like the kind of tooth you’d see on a 4,000 year old peat-bog mummy. Yum yum.

But as for David, he was happy with his seventy-one cents—though Spencer had to point out that there seems to be little consistency in the value of a tooth these days, you never know what that Tooth Fairy’s gonna give you. I tried to explain about the value of molars v. incisors, teeth with or without cavities, inflation, excise taxes—federal and local—plus the increase in world wide tooth production and created a formula to determine the value of each tooth at any given time. They weren’t buying it and finally came to the mutual conclusion that the Tooth Fairy is a chump—though they won’t say it too loud for fear of reprisals.

Oh well, where’s Andrew when I need him?


Anonymous said...

Hey, he comes by it honestly. The thought of doing the "dirty deed" left me weak in the his dad was the culprit, or hero, based on your perspective. Love ya, MomM

Dental care Beverly hills said...

haha I love the idea of how you gave different value for the different teeth (ones worth cavities worth less... its a good way to get kids to brush more!)