It started a few weeks ago when Erin remarked that one of her bottom front teeth was loose. "Look!" she announced and she demonstrated her newly discovered ability to wiggle her tiny tooth with her tongue. "I'm almost a growed up!"
I remember when that tooth made it's first appearance five years ago. That one and it's neighbour poked through my daughter's gums and ended all future opportunities to capture those adorable toothless smiles. Her twin brother, Ty, sported his first two teeth a mere two days later. We seem to do a lot of stuff in groups of 'two' around here.
Two years later, after depleting the local supply of Infant Tylenol, both kids had finished growing all their teeth. What happened in between is a blur of interrupted sleep and caffeine fueled automation. For the life of me, I can't recall what happened between incisors and molars. I do remember belting out a chorus of "Hallelujah!" when it was over.
Erin, now 5, stands in front of the mirrored closet doors in the hallway, smiling and wiggling her loose tooth. "When is it going to fall out, Mom?"
"When it's ready, sweetie."
"What's going to happen to my tooth when it falls out?"
"The tooth fairy will take it away and give you a twoonie for it."
Leave it to my daughter to question the order of things. She wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up and has no trouble rattling off the names of a few dozen Mesozoic reptiles. She is the intrinsic scientist, never failing to question any answer despite an abundance of prevailing facts.
"Well," I hesitate, hoping I can deliver a convincing helping of harmless chicanery. Just like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and the noisy giants that cause thunderstorms by bowling. My response is intended to help her understand the natural changes of growing up. "The tooth fairy will take your baby tooth and recycle it. Then she'll have a tooth to give to a little baby."
Her expression tells me I need to sweeten the deal. "And she'll even give you a coin to thank you for being so thoughtful."
My creative explanation is met with a strange, I'm-not-buying-that-load-of-baloney stare. Thankfully, she is quickly distracted by the toy trains her brother is playing with.
A week goes by. Two. Then three. The loose tooth won't fall out. Erin is intrigued. Anxious. Excited. A 4' 2" bundle of anticipation.
Meanwhile, the date Nana offered to host the kids at her house for four days is rapidly approaching. There is a little trepidation. Will Nana be able to keep up with two rambunctious five year olds? Will they behave for her? Will we adjust to the deafening quiet that consumes this house when children are not present? Erin and Ty depart for their Nana adventure, bouncing with excitement. Hubby and I console ourselves in the backyard inflatable pool, chilled pina coladas in hand.
Nana calls that evening to reassure us that the kids are behaving well and we get to talk to each before they are tucked in for the night. Erin has special news.
"My tooth fell out!"
We reassure Erin that the tooth fairy will come to collect her tooth. Ty is thrilled for his sister, but clearly irritated that his teeth remain firmly placed in his gums. In the morning, she finds a twoonie under her pillow, as promised. When we meet a few days later for our reunion with the kids, Erin greets me with her usual smile, minus one lower incisor. She proudly holds out a coin to show me. "Look what the tooth fairy gave me! Now a baby will get a new tooth!"
These are precious times, when the word of Mom and Dad is as indisputable as any truth. As heartening as it is to bask in their innocent faith of unrealistic and impossible things, their future success depends on eventually learning to question the information presented and distinguish fact from fiction. I don't know when that time will come, but I'm hoping it won't be for another thirty-nine teeth.