An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

All she wants for Christmas

Last night my oldest child lost her first tooth.

I’m not sure Christmas is going to live up to the celebration that occurred when it happened, not unless we have Cinderella arrive on the back of a flying unicorn carrying a bag stuffed with four tons of chocolate ice cream. And even then that princess had better know how to tap dance.

I know a lot of kids have lost a multitude of teeth by this age, but both Jon and I were late bloomers in every aspect of our lives. I mean, I didn’t get boobs until a bakery in England gave them to me my senior year in college, so technically she’s ahead of her inherited curve!

It was her bottom left front tooth, and it had been loose for what seems like weeks now, slowly inching toward its inevitable demise. We hoped it might just magically fall out. Why not? Nothing with Leta has been easy, not a single thing in her almost seven years on earth, why couldn’t the easy part start now? Eating, sleeping, potty training, drop-offs and pick-ups from school, transitioning between anything… you know, the Mercedes and Porsches of childhood, none of them easy. I was just asking the Universe for an easy tooth! Throw me the yellow Chevy Vega Sedan you’ve had sitting on your lot since 1982, the one that’s missing a passenger side door. I’ll happily ride the shit out of that thing.

No, we had to yank on this tooth, an activity that I would happily turn down if given the choice between that and going through a natural childbirth again, I am not even kidding. There is just something about the tug of a tooth root and the idea of it tearing out of someone else’s gum that makes the food in my stomach want to turn right around and get all impressionistic with the walls.

Eeeeyuuuuuuck. Eww. I know I’m supposed to be grown up about this, but when Jon asked me to feel her tooth to see how loose it was, I was all I TRUST YOUR JUDGMENT. You’re in charge of this one, Jon! You do whatever you feel is right! As long as it involves putting a pillow over my head and letting me hide behind the couch.

How about we tie a string to that tooth, give the other end to Marlo and let nature takes its course?

But I knew I’d regret it if I wasn’t a part of this occasion, so I held her hands (and bit my lip and repeated CALM BLUE OCEAN in my head) as Jon wiggled the tooth back and forth. At first it seemed like it wasn’t time, maybe it needed a few more days to loosen up a bit more. That’s when Jon suggested we search YouTube for some suggestions, and I suddenly popped out of my meditation to cuss in front of my child: Are you out of your goddamn mind?

Do you have any idea what you’re going to find if you google TEETH PULLING? It’s the Internet. We’re not talking about an encyclopedia at the elementary school library where you’ll get some sort of friendly illustration of the tooth fairy. You go ahead and google that phrase and next thing you know your kid is asking why that woman is shooting ping pong balls out of her vagina.

We waited to see if dinner would move things along, and twenty minutes after her usual bedtime we were all on the couch — me, Leta sitting on Jon’s lap, McKenzie there as our cheering squad. Leta winced and grimaced and my dinner danced in my throat as Jon feverishly twisted and pushed and pulled and coaxed. Finally, one last tug… BOOM! A tiny bottom front tooth sat in Jon’s hand. It was over! And Leta ran to the bathroom in disbelief. When I caught up with her she was out of breath, her mouth full of blood. Her breathing was heavy, as if she were on the verge of crying.

“Leta, are you okay?” I asked, worried she was freaking out at the sight of blood.

She didn’t answer me for a few seconds, then finally turned her head to look at me as if my presence had startled her. “What? Me? HAH! I’m totally fine, Mom!” Like, what did you do today, MOM. I just lost a tooth AND I’M STILL STANDING, BRAH.

She gets to be on the tooth chart at school today, in case you didn’t get that from the seven hundred times she mentioned it before going to bed. Also, I was thinking… would it be tacky to collect all her teeth so that eventually I could arrange them in a neat little pattern and then glue them to a mirror like seashells? Because think how many more people would be convinced to have children if they knew they had something like that to look forward to.

  • momof8

    Oh, I have many a tooth-pulling story. Congrats to Leta and all of you!!! I’m with you–pulling teeth gives me the heebie jeebies. I did used to save the kid’s teeth, but then I lost track of whose was whose and tossed them all–I think. AND can I tell you we have the suckiest toothfairy in the world at our house? I can palm a tooth and leave money like nobody’s business when I hear the crying in the morning.

  • WVKay

    Oh, yes, I saved the teeth. I still have some of them, they’re like dust in the wind by now (my oldest is 33, my youngest is 22). But, a word of advice. Don’t ever let the Tooth Fairy forget. The guilt will kill you.

  • zeegirl602

    My mom totally kept my baby teeth. She had this little ceramic box that was shaped like a cat sitting on an ottoman, and the teeth went into the ottoman. I think she still has it, actually, which – considering it’s been 30 years – is a tad disturbing.

    But let’s not think about that. Congrats, Leta! 🙂

  • Kendi

    Congrats Leta!!!

  • Whitaknee.b3ck

    So completely unrelated but I thought you might like this.

  • J. Bo

    Oh, my GAAHD, you have no idea how this resonated with me. I have SUCH tooth issues (though I love my dentist and have no problem with regular dental care) and can’t watch scenes in movies/TV that feature tooth loss, not even cartoons.

    I think the fact that my father insisted on pulling my sister’s and my loose teeth (they could come free and be swallowed! Or maybe he could somehow not have control over us!) might have SOMETHING to do with my tooth creep-out-itude.

    SO… rock on, Miss Leta! You are SO my she-ro, girlfriend!

  • irritableblogsyndrome

    I vomited a little in my mouth when my daughter pulled out one of her teeth and it made a “squish” noise. I also got a little nauseous reading your post. Ha!

  • lojo1714

    Not sure if this has been mentioned as I need to pass out and only read through the first page, but, as a first time commenter and long time lurker…congrats on the first tooth!

    Also, for future reference, my Dad used to do the “paper towel trick”. All four of us kids were terrified of pain, blood, feeling slightly uncomfortable, you name it. Yet for all four of us the paper towel trick worked right until we stopped loosing teeth! I have also used it multiple times as a nanny and childcare provider.

    Basically, you take a wet paper towel, have the child bite on it where the loose tooth is, and then count down from 5 (or whatever), but you pull on 2, not 1. The tooth comes flying out. But you need to do it on teeth that are ready. If it’s not ready, it won’t hurt, it just won’t come out. And for some reason, kids crack up over this every time. I don’t know why.

    Good luck for the rest of the teeth!

  • keagansmom

    HA! I love pulling my daughter’s teeth (when they’re ready, of course). She tells everyone. I even pulled the loose tooth of a friend of hers when she wouldn’t let the dentist near it!
    Yep. That’s me. The scary tooth pulling lady in MA. No anesthesia. No lines. No waiting. Just yank em and spank em.

  • Meranath

    My parents kept our baby teeth. 🙂 They haven’t done anythign with them though, they just sit in a tiny little jar.

  • Frugalista

    It never even occurred to me to stick my own finger in my kid’s mouth to wiggle her tooth, much less pull … it … out. I can barely type the words it gives me such heebity jeebies.

    Leave ’em alone and they will all come out, won’t they?

    Now I can’t remember if I saved her first 2 teeth or not. I think we might have thrown ’em away.

  • Damaris Santos-Palmer

    Totally save it. My grandma saved all my teeth and then she put it in earrings and a necklace and gave it to me after I got married. True story. I’m trying to google image it because she said it was a Brazilian costume but I’m having no luck.

  • MPyrzynski

    Congratulations, Leta!

    My son just lost his I-don’t-remember-what-number-tooth. It was SO loose and he would wiggle it in front of me. I was talking to his after school care teacher and she said, “When I was a kid, I loved playing with my loose teeth, but now it makes me nauseous to see other kids do it.” I’m the same way. Ick ick ick ick ick.

    When my son loses a tooth, he gets the gold dollar coins. They look like “treasure” to him. Depending on how tough it was to lose the tooth/how long it took to come out determines how many coins he gets. I have the waiting coins in the same drawer as the teeth that have come out. Though he did catch me off guard by losing a tooth while on vacation. The fairy had to leave paper money. How gauche!

  • deege

    My mom kept all my baby teeth in an old Chanel No. 5 box of my grandmother’s. Now they all smell purty, even the one that had to be pulled from the root after I hit the dashboard during a fender bender. And now I keep all my kids’ teeth, too, and I have no idea why…

  • REBottoni

    You need to keep the teeth in an easy to remember spot (jewelry box?) in case another one happens to fall down the drain or get lost in the grass. Then you will be a hero when you “find” it.

  • RandomAmy

    According to my dad [a dentist] the longer you hold onto to those baby teeth, the better. Unless the new ones are pushing into the space. It’s just less time for the adult teeth to incur wear, tear and other damage.

    How much does a tooth go or now? I recall a quarter was a huge amount, but now I suppose they get an iPod.

  • canadianCait

    Bahahahahahaha! Oh man. I love this. I remember my mom waiting until my teeth were like, HANGING out of my mouth and then BEGGING me to get her fingers in there and rip it out. Her hands would literally start shaking with anticipation. She was an addict. I will NEVER pull my kids’ teeth out!!!! Hell no! LOL!

  • lisame

    After reading the comments I now understand why I’m so popular with my friends that have kids! I’ve pulled close to ten teeth this summer. One of my friend’s daughters will refuse to show her mouth to anyone but Ms. Lisa!

    I have no kids you see and very little grosses me out. HOWEVER, at the ripe old age of 47 I can still vividly remember having my teeth pulled. The thing that stands out is the faster you yank – the less pain and the less blood.

    You call me for the next loose tooth. I can remove them drama free. Not. A. Problem.

  • AmandaB

    Ah yes, collect…glue…create! Just don’t let Leta find the collection of teeth until AFTER she knows the Tooth Fairy isn’t real. I distinctly remember discovering my baby teeth as a young child (in my mother’s jewelry box, no less!) and being crushed at the realization that I’d been played (and that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t a cheap bitch…but my mom might have been).

    Then came the questions about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the monster in my closet who would tell my mom if I got out of bed to play after bedtime.

    Collect carefully. And in an out-of-reach spot! Just sayin.

  • Missey

    I need Jon to come over to my house. My son has two big teeth coming in behind his two baby teeth and they are not budging. Of course, we’re not allowed to touch them either. Those teeth are as stubborn as him!

    PS our dentist said it was fine, so no worries…I hate loose teeth. Gross.

  • aussome1

    CONGRATULATIONS LETA!!! Hope the tooth fairy was good to you for this first lost tooth!!
    next tooth try using a bath cloth folded in half to pull the tooth…no pain at all. My mom did all mine that way and most of the time they were out before I knew she had even tugged. It cushion’s the pulling and you don’t feel anything!!

  • DesignGirl

    Hey! My first car was a 1973 yellow Chevy Vega. And the only thing scarier than pulling out a loose tooth is how much oil that car burned.

    Anyway, congrats to Leta on such a milestone! Hopefully she will look upon each loose tooth as a good thing.

    Not like me … oh no … every time I’d have a loose tooth, I’d baby it, not touch it or even chew food over there. At one point mom had to take me to the dentist because I had EIGHT teeth where only four should be. The permanents were completely grown in and the babies where hanging off to the side. The dentist then nicknamed me “shark” … a moniker that would last through to my teenage years. Ugh.

  • SkyIsFalling

    I had major deja vu reading this and then I realized why. One of your entries that sticks in my head (because of its hilarity) was one you wrote quite awhile back about Leta’s first loose tooth and her reaction to hearing about the tooth fairy. It was something along the lines of wanting presents and not money, until it was explained that she could BUY presents with the money. Awesome. But now I’m confused, did that tooth not fall out?

  • Mom of JandC

    Save that tooth!!! Save at least one in each shape and size.
    Once my 8 year old lost a molar, and it was on the kitchen table in a napkin. My mother was visiting and being all helpful and all so she cleaned the table and set it for dinner. We ate dinner and then just about desert time my child shreaks “WHERE’S MY TOOTH?!?!?!?!?” We realize what has happened, it is somewhere in the garbage burried under a bunch of carrot peels and paper towels and god know what else.
    I went to my secret “tooth hiding place” and retrieved another molar…don’t know if it really came from her or her sister…and then walked into the kitchen and said “Oh look, there it is!” and pretended to pick it up off the floor. She was perfectly happy and it went under her pillow for her gold $1 presidential dollar and all was peaceful.
    Save that tooth!

  • Mom of JandC

    PS- who won the Canon camera?

  • painterdoll

    My mom saved all of my teeth in a little pink box. As creepy as this may sound, it’s kind of funny to look at them once in a while. Maybe you should save her teeth and then let her decide what she wants to do with them.

    As for tooth-pulling technique, teeth have always made me squeamish, but the “twist and pull up” method always worked pretty good back in the day.

  • jessalee

    When my son lost his first and second tooth, the look on his face was shock. He was excited, of course, because what kid doesn’t love a rite of passage that brings money from a fairy? But at the same time, I think the experience of physically losing something that was previously attached to your body is surreal. He’d stand around with a bloody mouth, not sure whether he should be weeping and wailing or take the leap to full-on mania or hysteria. I thought it was just a quirk of his, but my daughter acted the same way.

    Also, for a nice ick story, my MIL had been telling me since our first child was born that she had saved all of my husband’s baby teeth. I handily ignored this because I thought she’d just hang on to them and they’d never see the light of day. But when we were last at their house visiting, she offered the box of teeth to me — like maybe I wanted them for a craft project. Or a necklace. (Hand to God, she thought a necklace would be a viable option!) And the bonus was they were nicely co-mingled with my brother-in-law’s baby teeth. YUCK! I opted to skip on the serial killer jewelry this time around, thanks.

  • alliec7

    My parents still have a container of the collective baby teeth of me and my three siblings. Our ages are 26, 24, 22, and 21.

  • tinacolada97

    I lost my first tooth in my sleep. I either swallowed it or lost it in the bedding, but we never found it. My parents never pulled any of mine because I wouldn’t let them touch it. Yes, I’m a weenie.

  • rmd152

    My grandfather would use a cotton ball to pull a tooth. You don’t feel a thing because the cotton presses against the gums and that is all you can feel. The next thing you know the tooth is out and it never hurt a bit.

    We tried other ways but that was always the best for me. Even when the other methods didn’t hurt there was still that feeling of the root letting go that still makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

  • mostlyflumxd

    Check out my baby pulling her first tooth on youtube- “Bella pulls 1st tooth”. I can only watch her eyes and can’t look at her tooth. I was the videographer and freaked out and shut the camera off when the tooth finally came out!

  • dannyva

    I feel for you Heather. Teeth pulling is about as appealing to me as eating a live snake. NO THANK YOU.

  • aleta robertson

    Okay. I don’t talk about this. Anything else – just Not this.

    I don’t like any tooth related anything.

    But I found myself wanting to be present for my kiddo’s first tooth loss debut (much as you describe above). She asked ME, not Daddy, to pull a little on her bottom tooth. This is my FIRSTBORN daughter who makes Woody Allen’s neuroses, including the incest, look like sweet patchwork quilted frippery on Holly Hobbie’s calico smock.

    I slipped. The tooth slipped. I mean, my fingers slipped off the tooth. But I was very careful and it was this attention to grip and carefulness that rendered my grip quite tight and unfortunately, directed. Physics are what they are, sympathizes my husband. I slipped. And my fist/knuckle thrust upward in one quick steeled flash and,

    and I knocked her front top tooth right out of her head. My husband jumped and, You KO-ed her! Holy shit! Holy Shit!

    We don’t even spank y’all.

    I’ve been on nightly Xanax since this occasion. My firstborn? She obviously died from a concussion. Just kidding. She is alive and well and beginning to drive. She loves retelling the story. And I love my Xanax.

  • haggardmom

    Oh my! I have never had to help one of my kids’ loose teeth out, thankfully. Usually they fall out on their own. Sometimes my daughter ‘helps’ hers out, but she’s kind of a wuss, so I know she wouldn’t do it if it was painful. Mostly I’m just thankful for her pro-activeness! 🙂

  • tksinclair

    Teeth pulling – GROSS! Like you it just makes me hurl.

    Fortunately we lived in Malibu at the time and my neighbor SUSIE RUTKOWSKI, now from SUN VALLEY IDAHO (had to give Susie a shout out) who was also a nurse pulled all my children’s teeth. God Bless her. God love SUSIE.

    My children are now 30 and 35 and I still drop to my knees when I think of the Blessed Susie RUTKOWSKI saying, “Oh, no problem, just send him down here” like it was nothing more than borrowing some sugar.

    I LOVE YOU SUSIE RUTKOWSKI. (Rick was okay too) YOU WILL ALWAYS have a piece of my heart, and some of my children’s teeth.

    Oh and PS: Marlo will most likely pull her own out!

  • TexasKatie

    That is an odd first tooth to fall out. Usually it is one of the two bottom teeth or one of the two top teeth. She must be an oddball like my kid who didn’t lose his first tooth until he was 7 1/2! He seriously was wondering what was wrong with him. “WHY AREN’T MY TEETH FALLING OUT?” he would cry. The dentist said something about really strong tooth roots, or something. And apparently my husband was the same way, and hadn’t lose all his teeth until he was like 15. So now he is 9 1/2 and he has only lost a grand total of five teeth and it takes like four months for a tooth to grow in once one has fallen out. He is eternally toothless, it seems.

    Way to go, Leta!

    ETA: Okay, this is edited because on looking at the picture again, maybe that IS one of her two bottom teeth? The angle is weird… It might be because that one tooth next to it is a little crooked, but it looked like the one that fell out was not one of the two bottom teeth. But I am guessing it is and I am just a doofus.

  • rtorgy

    I love pulling my kids teeth! I also worked for a dentist before deciding to stay home with my kids, so that must be where my sadistic turn comes from. Even when my nieces or nephews have loose teeth, I beg them to let me yank them.
    the last part you wrote about glueing them to the mirror like seashells? Almost spit my drink all over my computer screen. That is frickin’ hilarious.

  • CoffeeJitters

    What do you do with all those little bits that used to be parts of their bodies: teeth, navel stumps, foreskins…?

    It seems so unceremonious to just toss them in the trash, but keeping them doesn’t seem quite right either.

  • amybonk

    I hate to the be reader that leaves you a link to watch, because, really — do you even watch all these things people send you? But, this is a video about tooth pulling I think all of you at Dooce will get a good laugh out of:

    It’s cute, not gross, and slightly heart warming.

  • Eunice

    I still have my daughter’s baby teeth. And she’s, oh my, 24. That’s 24 years, not months. Oh dear, don’t tell her. Mind you, she knows her Mum is c-er-azy anyway!

  • diablito
  • krysk

    We are at the other end…just getting teeth. My new grandson Sam just got his first tooth…..they are so happy and proud and just have the biggest gummy grin with drool and a little tip of a tooth poking out. Ah me makes me just show him the biggest goofiest granny grin back.

  • Palola

    In south america, people make jewelry with their kid’s teeth. no kidding, earrings and pendants, yup!

  • P

    Go Leta!

    My daughter’s teeth have always been, uh, a bit hesitant to leave her mouth. In 2000, one top front tooth was particularly stubborn. Not only did it not fall out, but the permanent replacement tooth came in right behind it. It still refused to leave and instead hung there at a jaunty angle mocking us on a daily basis.

    2000 was, as you may remember, the year of the Bush Gore presidential debacle with all those individually counted Florida ballots. We are from Florida and the process was a particularly painful one for us. My father in a moment of brilliance christened the stubborn tooth, “the hanging chad”.

    Fast forward 10 years and the “hanging chad” now has a lovely 14k cap and resides on my charm bracelet.

  • Cadet25

    I’m dentally retarded as well…it was a bit of a bummer when all my classmates were losing their teeth way before me, but it was great when it got me out of having braces!

  • Shea

    yay, Leta!

  • marnilla

    I saved all my daughters’ teeth, and the craft project did kind of occur to me (it would fit right in with the memorial art made by my elder to her sister’s first haircut; a sort of mixed media piece involving the hair and some craft sticks on newsprint)

    I rethought it, though. I don’t know where the teeth are, now. I have visions of the two of them packing me up for the nursing home and finding the baby teeth and being grossed out, so I hope they turn up before senility sets in.

    Congratulations, Leta!

  • MrsKnitpho

    WoOHoO. Congrats on this momentous milestone 🙂 My daughter is Leta’s age and has lost 6teeth, I’ve had to yank one because she twisted & twisted and when it didn’t fall out she could twist it back to put in the right spot, so I had to yank it. I thought I was going to pass out for the ickyness of it all. But.. I am a freak (my friends make fun of me) and have saved all of my sons teeth (he’s 12) and all of my daughters in little jars. I *joke* that I will make a necklace of them someday 😉

  • noL

    Often, things you say resonate with me. My favorite from this post? “makes the food in my stomach want to turn right around and get all impressionistic with the walls”


  • AlyCat

    OMG, I’m so grossed out by loose teeth, too. My kid is almost 8 and hasn’t lost any yet! He’s going to the dentist next Wednesday to get X-Rays and find out what’s going on in there. I am NOT looking forward to it.

    Congratulations to Leta.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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