Nate Loses a Tooth

“Mom! My tooth is loose! Feel it!”


“Nate! Why is it loose? Did you fall? Did you run into something?”


I didn’t think he was ready to lose a tooth. Don’t ask me why, most of his friends have already lost several teeth. But he’d been running around with Sam and some friends after church, and there was a lot of rough housing going on.


“My tooth is loose! I have a loose tooth!”


I could hear his voice echoing around the church basement as he darted around from person to person to alert them of his dental status. I wish I had that level of excitement for…anything really.


For dinner that night, we went to a pizza place with an old friend of Tighe’s and his wife. They live in a distant suburb, so this was our first introduction.


“Sam, how old are you?” Joe asked when we were midway through our meal, trying to be friendly. Or maybe it was a desperate attempt to get Sam to sit in his seat and stop crawling around under the table. This couple didn’t have kids and they had clearly never dined out with Sam.


Sam held eye contact with the man as he sipped his chocolate milk through a straw. He didn’t reply as he swished the milk around in his cheeks and dove back down under the table.


“Sam’s three and a half. I’m Nate and I’m five and a half and I have a loose tooth!”


Nate seemed disappointed when Joe’s enthusiasm didn’t match his own, so he joined Sam under the table.


At bedtime that night, I tried to temper Nate’s exhilaration.


“You know, Nate, sometimes it takes a few days for the tooth to actually fall out.” I hate to be such a buzzkill sometimes, but I don’t want him to be disappointed.


“Right. I know, Mom. But is tomorrow a school day? I just can’t wait to show my friends my new loose tooth.”


Tomorrow was Sunday. We all slept late and had a lazy breakfast while Nate, Sam, and Tighe watched a superhero movie.


Okay, it wasn’t a lazy breakfast for Nate. As soon as I saw him that morning, he reminded me of his loose tooth.


“Mom! It’s still loose! See? Feel it.”


“Nate, I believe you. I really don’t want to put my fingers in your mouth.” Mostly because I still hadn’t washed my hands after Tess’s morning diaper blowout. Which reminds me, I need to order bigger diapers. Or maybe we shouldn’t make a habit of feeding her pizza three nights in a row. #weekends


When she went down for her morning nap, I joined Nate and Tighe on the sofa and we brainstormed methods to expedite this loose-tooth-removal process. You know, tying the other end to a doorknob and slamming it shut. Having your dad get out his rusty pliers. Begging your younger brother to punch you in the face. Though it wouldn’t take much begging for Sam to deck Nate.


“I hate to be a mom here, but I think we should just skip all that and let nature take it’s course. It’ll probably be out in two or three days.” I said my peace and retreated to the kitchen to do whatever it is that moms do in kitchens.


Less than two minutes later, I heard a squeal and Nate came running in.


“Mom! It’s out! My tooth came out!”


Oh, great. No one ever listens to moms.


“I need a paper towel! There’s so much blood!”


For a kid who still sobs and requests a Band-Aid when he gets the tiniest of bruises, he sure was elated about the blood gushing from his mouth.


“I can’t believe I lost a tooth!” He repeated it again and again with the same level of glee that someone would have if he had won the lottery—a sum large enough to pay off his student loans and maybe have some left over to purchase a modestly priced mid-sized SUV.


The rest of the morning was exhausting. Lots of unilateral jubilation, blood soaked paper towels, and checking himself out in the mirror. It was annoying, so we sent him to the neighbor’s house for the afternoon.


It took until bedtime for him to mention the Tooth Fairy.


“I wonder what the Tooth Fairy’s going to bring me!”


Tighe and I made eye contact across their bedroom.


“What do you think she’s going to bring you, Nate?” We had to gauge his expectations. Why did we not do this earlier in the day?


“Well, when Lauren lost her tooth, she got a toy under her pillow.” **Names have been changed to protect innocent five year-olds.**


“A toy?” I didn’t have any toys. I mean, I had a few unopened things hidden away, but they’re Sam’s Christmas presents. And they’re pretty Sam-specific #markers #coloring books. Not really anything Nate would get excited about. This tooth just came out so quickly! It really caught us unprepared.


“Yeah. Lauren said you get a toy for your first tooth. So I’ll probably get a Lego set.”


“Really? Lauren said that?” Looks like I owe Lauren’s mom a “grateful” text.


We said our goodnights, and I put Tess to bed while Tighe read stories to Nate and Sam.


When we reconvened downstairs, Tighe said, “I guess I have to run to Target real quick.”


“For what? Tums?” Too much pizza gives us heartburn.


“I gotta pick up a Lego set!”


We had never discussed appropriate Tooth Fairy apportionments. A Lego set seemed a bit steep to me, but I’d also heard of a friend’s cousin in California who doles out a crisp Benjamin Franklins for every lost tooth. So we can handle an eight-dollar Lego set.


After Tighe left, I sent Lauren’s mom a text thanking her for her very high tooth fairy precedent. I received a reply almost immediately.


“Lauren got $10 for her first tooth and $1 for every tooth afterwards. I wonder if she really told him that.”


So, one of them lied. Did Lauren lie to Nate? Or did Nate lie to us? Or was it just an innocent misunderstanding between two feeble minded youngsters? Regardless he woke up with a Star Wars Lego set under his pillow and a stamp on his passport through this rite of passage.