Neither one of my children ever lost their first tooth before they were seven years old. In a way this was good, because it almost completely eliminated the need for us to have the Tooth Fairy in our house. (Also, Clementine was born with the cynicism of a 70-year-old man, and therefore didn’t believe in any of that stuff anyway. And Clyde—well, Clyde has Clementine for an older sister, so while in ordinary circumstance he would probably still be clapping his hands and saying, “I believe! I believe!” well into his twenties, he, too, stopped believing at around age five.)
Now while there are probably a great many parents out there who are envious of the fact that I never had to sneak into anyone’s room in the middle of the night and fumble around underneath a pillow for cast-off body parts (thank god the idea of a Toenail Clipping Fairy never caught on), what they don’t realize is that this small benefit is completely negated by the fact that my children are still shedding their baby teeth well into their teens. And a teen with a loose tooth is a much crankier creature than any five-year-old could ever be.
I was reminded of that a few years ago when me and my family had finally come to the end of what might just have been The Most Stressful Travel Day of All Time. Not only did we have to carry our bags (and our children’s bags, because, hey, why would they ever carry their own bags when they have us around?) across a literal mile of trash-strewn farmland, we then had to stand in line for a crowded bus that would take us to a crowded train station where we would get on a crowded train that would take us to London, where we would walk for blocks and blocks in the wrong direction before finally turning around and finding our hostel because, apparently, my sense of direction is absolute crap when I don’t have the San Francisco Peaks to point me in the right direction.
Once at the hostel, after my husband and I tried to cram as much filthy clothing as possible into a tinytinytiny washing machine we finally collapsed in the hostel’s small cafe and ordered a well deserved pint of beer. Unfortunately, however, just as I reached out to take my first grateful sip of said beer I was horrendously distracted by the sight of Clementine reaching into her mouth, wrenching out a molar, and slamming it, bloody and wet, on the table in front of me with a glare.
It was like something straight out of The Fly. “Here,” she said. “For you.” The profanity following that statement was, for once, only implied. As was the “ So you think you’ve had a long day?” Not wanting to enrage someone who was clearly undergoing some sort of metamorphosis (and who, terrible as the thought was, might be changing into something even worse), I simply picked up the tooth, slipped it into my purse, and kept my own mouth wisely shut.
Well, at least I did until several months later, when I was having dinner with Clementine and her new boyfriend. Reaching into my purse for my wallet I felt the little jagged lump with my fingers, pulled it out, slammed it down on the table with the same emphasis Clementine once had, and said to her boyfriend, “Here. For you.”
Judging from the horrified look Clementine shot me afterwards, revenge really is a dish best served cold. Of course, I won’t know for sure about that until I go out to dinner with Clyde’s new girlfriend. Because, luckily for me, he, too, pulled out his own bloody gift to me just the other night.
It’s already in my purse.