Heater, Mother of Lance

The second tooth

Last Thursday night we were all sitting around the dinner table talking when Jon noticed that Leta was fiddling with her loose tooth. The same loose tooth that he has threatened to yank for the last month, causing both her and me to run screaming into the other room where we crouch in the corner and I whisper soothingly that I will save her from that mad man.

What? Whose team am I on? THE ONE WITH THE TEETH INTACT.

I mentioned my uneasiness with loose teeth when she lost her first one. There’s just something about teeth and feet that I have a hard time with, as if you needed to know that about me, but there it is. Don’t ever show me your feet or I’ll have to kindly ask you to remove my number from your phone.

He decided right then that this was the night, this was the time, no more excuses or running to mom. If I even thought about getting in his way he was going to take off his shoes and socks and rub his toes in my hair.

So, picture this: Leta is hysterical beyond comprehension. I don’t blame her, but I’m trying to be supportive. Scratch that, I’m trying to prevent a scenario in which I have to yank someone’s hairy feet off of my head.

She’s hyperventilating, crying, generally freaking out. Because she thinks it’s going to hurt. Even after we remind her that it didn’t hurt when her first tooth came out. But she’s not having it and is being ridiculously irrational. And Jon, someone who is married to and has to deal hourly with someone who is ridiculously irrational, is so over it. So over it that after forty-five minutes — I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING, FORTY PLUS FIVE MINUTES OF MY LIFE LOST TO THAT DAMN TOOTH — of Leta’s screaming NO! and STOP! and WAIT!, he reached into her mouth with a tissue, through the wall of her hands, and jerked that effer out.

The following is a script of what happened next:


Jon: What is that again?


Jon: Really?


Jon: Really?! That’s interesting, Leta. Because I have your tooth in my hand.

Leta: WHAT???!!!

Jon: It’s out.

Leta: It’s out?

Jon: It’s out.

Leta: IT’S OUT?

Jon: It’s out.

Leta: IT’S OUT??!!

Jon: It’s out.

Leta: IT’S OUT??????!!!!!!!!

Marlo, fed up with all the bullshit: IT’S OOOOOUUUUUUTTTTTT!!!!

Leta shoots up out of my lap where she has been sitting, where I have buried my head into her back so that I don’t have to see anything, runs to the middle of the room and screams, “YOU GOT IT OUT IN, LIKE, TWO SECONDS. YOU’RE, LIKE, A MAGICIAN. THIS IS, LIKE, THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.”

You’re, like, a magician.

I, like, totally lost my shit and laughed for a good ten minutes.

Good thing I had my fun then, because the party was only getting started. That kid was so pumped on adrenaline that she would not sleep. Jon tried several times to sneak into her room to perform Tooth Fairy duties only to have her sit straight up, her hair a fiery mop of tangles, and go, “HI!” Not freaky at all.

By eleven o’clock I told Jon to go to sleep, I’d set my alarm for 4 AM and sneak in there. Certainly she’d be heavily asleep by then. Certainly. Certainly! Did you know that “certainly” and anything remotely similar in meaning is the Universe’s cue to screw with parents? It says so in the Ten Commandments.

I woke up at 4 AM. FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. Five dollars in my hand. Yes, that’s the going rate in our house for a tooth, and I know we’re spoiling her and she’ll become a monster. A monster who will want her Oompa Loompa, like, NOW. I mean, her dad is, like, a magician, so where is it?

The moment I touched her doorknob she sat straight up in bed. Let me remind you that it’s four o’clock in the damn morning, so there is not a clear thought in my head. And so instead of poking my head in and saying something like, “Hey, heard a noise, are you okay?” I hit the floor. I hit the floor so fast that she didn’t see me, and then I army crawled to the side of her bed, if this isn’t the most ridiculous thing I have ever written, Heather, you are an idiot.

I lay quietly beside her bed for about ten minutes to let her settle down, and then I reached up, stuck my hand underneath the pillow where Jon had put the tooth, and furiously felt around in the dark. NOTHING. I could not find that tooth, and then I heard Leta sit straight up again. Except this time she said, “Hello?”

Please someone tell me that you are a failed Tooth Fairy, too.

I jerked my hand back to my side and lay there barely breathing. Two minutes went by when suddenly Leta peered over the side of her bed, saw me lying there idiotically, and said, “Who’s there? Mom? Is that you?”

And what did I do? I waved.

I waved and said, “Hi!”

“What are you doing down there, Mom?” she asked.

“Oh, you know. Had a bad dream so I thought I’d sleep next to your bed.”

“You don’t have to sleep down there!” she said. “Come up here with me!”


So I got in bed with my amped seven-year-old who would not go back to sleep. She kept moving around and asking questions, and in the meantime I’m covertly reaching around that entire bed trying to find the tooth. Three hours go by. Three of the longest hours of my life, of Leta asking what I was doing every time I moved my arm. I’M BAKING A GODDAMN CAKE, LETA. GO TO SLEEP.

By seven o’clock I had located the tooth which had somehow grown feet and walked two pillows to the opposite side of the bed. We’d put it inside a ziplock bag, and when I grabbed it? It crinkled.

No, let me say that again, and imagine this in my Southern accent: IT CRAAAAANKLED!

“What’s that noise?” she asked.

“What noise?”

“I thought I heard a noise,” she said.

“You didn’t hear a noise,” I said, and I used my talking to mask the sound of removing that bag from underneath the pillow and stuffing it into my shirt under my arm. At the same time I shoved the wadded fist of cash into its place. “You just think you’re hearing something because you’re delusional from sleep deprivation.”

Right then she sat up, the hugest smile on her face. “Can I peek underneath the pillow?”

Can I get a phew?

When she saw the five individual dollar bills she gasped. “How does the Tooth Fairy do it, Mom?!”

“She’s, like, a magician,” I said.

  • gradstudentsarepeopletoo

    2011/03/14 at 1:18 pm

    Well, that story just made my afternoon about a thousand times better.

  • Chez Sanderosa

    2011/03/14 at 1:19 pm

    That is awesome! I’ve always wondered if people failed at their tooth fairy duties. However, I would say you passed with flying colors! 4 a.m.? 3 hours of attempting to get the tooth without her noticing? Bravo!

  • Fifi Coon

    2011/03/14 at 1:23 pm

    We used to make the kids put their tooth in an envelope with a little note on the front for the Tooth Fairy – made it much easier to find the damn thing. I saved a bunch of the envelopes – and many years later my daughter and I opened the envelopes too look at the tooth inside – nothing but dust left in the envelope………..kinda sad.

  • Steph at UM

    2011/03/14 at 1:25 pm

    Posts like this are why you are still Queen of the Internet.

  • LooseWheel

    2011/03/14 at 1:26 pm

    That just made my day – thank you for sharing and congratulations on being a Master Magician!

  • sandi

    2011/03/14 at 1:27 pm

    You are the worlds BEST mother! I fail at tooth fairying more times than I succeed. With fifteen effing kids I have had tooth duties at least twice a month for twelve years. I seriously suck. I blame my child with special needs who stays up half the night on the fact that the tooth fairy didn’t come again… The rule is if the tooth fairy finds anyone in the house awake, she simply can’t come in. I know I will burn in hell one day but you gotta admit it’s a good excuse.

    I loved this post. The visual of you army crawling into her room had me cracking up. But if I were Leta and woke to find my mother doing that, I would be traumatized for life.

  • wordsbecomeone

    2011/03/14 at 1:27 pm

    Just so you know, this is totally “great mom” territory. Nice work.

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/03/14 at 1:28 pm

    ha ha! great writing because i TOTALLY could see that whole t.f. situation unfolding. good times…good times.

    i’m still a bit wiggy on the tooth being ripped out though. i know i did it as a kid but man i was crazy!

  • doodiepunk

    2011/03/14 at 1:29 pm

    I completely agree with Steph at UM. This absolutely made my day. You ARE, like, a magician!

  • Squeetthang

    2011/03/14 at 1:29 pm

    Well, I almost peed myself at work laughing at that! Thanks! $5 is a fine rate…especially when you account for the stock market, current inflation rates, hurricanes, earth quakes and tsunamis.

  • Manyletters

    2011/03/14 at 1:30 pm

    Nicely done.

  • misstraceynolan

    2011/03/14 at 1:32 pm

    Just when I think I want my girl to stay a baby forever I read something like this and I think…SEVEN! I can’t wait until she’s SEVEN! You’re, like, a magician.

  • jordan

    2011/03/14 at 1:33 pm

    Great, GREAT (yes I totally just used all caps) post! Love the line about baking a cake, laughed out loud, totally awesome 🙂 Thanks for putting a smile on my face Heather, been reading for six years now and so appreciative for the effort it takes to make this great.
    Thank you.

  • bawb23

    2011/03/14 at 1:33 pm

    Bills? Golden dollars are so much cooler. You can get them at the Post Office, too.

  • Kris Mulkey

    2011/03/14 at 1:36 pm

    Laughed so loud I startled the dogs.

  • Mama M.

    2011/03/14 at 1:38 pm

    Wow…that’s impressive.

    Me? I’da said, “screw it”, gone back to bed, and in the morning, made up some lame excuse about the tooth fairy having a busy night or something

    For the record…teeth creep me out too. But not so much as they creep out my husband, which means I’m left with the dastardly duty of yanking those suckers out.

    Fun times I tell you, fun times.

  • Rebecca from Texas

    2011/03/14 at 1:38 pm

    “I’M BAKING A GODDAMN CAKE”… haha! Classic.

  • apostate

    2011/03/14 at 1:38 pm

    Since I am about 7 years sober from magical thinking, I used to feel like a hypocrite for telling my kids about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and a Santa Claus. Then I decided that it’s okay because by the time they’re in their 50s, they won’t still believe in those things.

    I remember when I was about 7, one of my crayons fell down the drain in our basement. It was a generic crayon at that. Still, I thought it was a crisis. I cried and my dad- wonder of wonders- removed the drain cover and fished the crayon out. I told him: “Thanks, Dad. You saved my life!” I really meant it. Children are easily impressed.

  • Kelly_M

    2011/03/14 at 1:39 pm

    Just when I thought nothing could make me smile today, yet again, you have me rolling on the floor laughing at work! Wonderful story 🙂

  • undecidedlyso

    2011/03/14 at 1:42 pm

    Damn, you are so lucky. I was expecting the end to be that you had to give it up and tell her you’re the tooth fairy. I’m so glad she still gets to believe!

    And also, just so your $5 seems small in comparison, my step-daughter’s mom gives her $20. Yup! $5 is nothing. You’d think she’d figure out that the tooth fairy isn’t real when she only gives her $1 at her dad’s and my house, but she gets $20 at her mom’s! Hehehe.

  • TheScarlett

    2011/03/14 at 1:43 pm

    We’ve been doing silver dollars and we’re on the last of four kids needing tooth fairy action; that’s a lot of silver purchased at the local coin and currency shop. All of our kids were late bloomers meaning that they lost their teeth later than any of their peers. One even had to get a baby tooth extracted because it got wedged in with the emerging tooth so we’re really big on having our youngest do lots of wiggling to prevent that from happening again.

    Love the magician comment! Wait until she tries to sneak out of the house while you’re sleeping – she’ll find out you really are magic when you catch her in the act!

  • nmoffett75

    2011/03/14 at 1:43 pm

    And posts like this are why I still read dooce every day despite the haters. Thanks for making me laugh out loud.

  • Becky Cochrane

    2011/03/14 at 1:44 pm

    It’s possible this is my new favorite thing you’ve written. Clapping my hands (and feet) for you.

  • Jen Cottrell

    2011/03/14 at 1:46 pm

    “Marlo, fed up with all the bullshit…It’s Ouutt!” Hahaha!

    Over the years, the tooth fairy has failed to do her duties a few times at my house. I used the excuse that they didn’t fall asleep fast enough so she couldn’t come. The following night they were out like lights. 🙂

    Thanks for the funny story!

  • The Dalai Mama

    2011/03/14 at 1:46 pm

    Laughing hysterically and crying at the same time as I see my future when my kiddos start to lose their teeth.

    I can’t even sneak into my office across from my kids bedroom without them hearing me and asking what I am doing.

    Totally made my crappy snow, lost hour monday blues a bit happier. I can just picture you dropping to the floor. Hilarious.

  • katezales

    2011/03/14 at 1:47 pm

    Tooth fairy duty is always a super covert operation in our house. My 7 year old son is a super light sleeper and tends to sit bolt upright, (more often than not still asleep) when you enter his room. Last time, while my hand was underneath his pillow, he sat up and said “I’m sorry. The snack cake won’t let me sit next to you.”

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/03/14 at 1:47 pm

    for the same-age-as-leta-minus-2-days daughter, i forgot to set the alarm, did not stuff the $1 under her pillow(her grandma gives her $5, because she lives in the high avenues), and we awoke to “i didn’t get any money.” we had to convince her she was up too early, etc etc and then i ran in there with the george washington.

    before that, she wanted us to pull out the tooth (let nature takes its course, we said, which she, of course, did NOT understand one whit), but when we suggested the tooth to string to doorknob scenario, she ran.

    do you realize this teeth-falling-out thing goes on for years? do we need to adjust for inflation?

  • elizabethb

    2011/03/14 at 1:49 pm

    Oh, my friend. You need to get yourself one of these thingys STAT! You put the tooth in the bag and HANG THE BAG ON THE KIDS’ DOORKNOB for super-easy access. My daughter is a crazy light sleeper and we’ve played tooth fairy twice now with total ease.


  • Mrs.Mommy02

    2011/03/14 at 1:50 pm

    I totally forgot once till the next day and had to sneek in during a potty break that afternoon. My heart raced so fast you would have thought I was shop lifting. Then I had to explain that the Tooth Fairy sometimes gets too busy. I love the “Baking a cake”. I use that every time I’m asked “Whatcha doin?” when I’m obviously doing laundry or reading.

  • MJBUtah

    2011/03/14 at 1:54 pm

    The tooth fairy at my house decided that it was creepy to have a total stranger sneaking around a kids bedroom at night and we would leave our tooth in a glass of water on the kitchen windowsill. When we got up in the morning the water was gone and the tooth had been replaced by money. It was total magic.

    I am ashamed to say that occasionally the tooth fairy at my house had to reschedule her visit to coincide with payday, we just explained to the kids that she was very busy on some days and didn’t get around to as many houses as she needed to. Only once was I asked why Santa could do it and the Tooth Fairy couldn’t. I considered moving Christmas that year just to prove a point.

  • ChickWhitt

    2011/03/14 at 1:55 pm

    This is why my mom made me scared of the tooth fairy. The very first time, she said, are you sure you want the tooth fairy sneaking in your room while you are sleeping? And me being the already anxiety-ridden child, I screamed NO!!! So I left it out on the coffee table in a little dixie cup.

    Damn my mom was smart.

    When I have kids, I will be so torn. Make them anxious messes, or make it harder for me??

  • lacochino

    2011/03/14 at 1:56 pm

    That just made my day. 🙂

    The vision of you army crawling to the side of the bed is fabulous. You are a great mom!

  • dawdawsmom

    2011/03/14 at 1:57 pm

    oh my gawd…been there…done that! right down to the commando crawl. that baggie IS awfully loud in the middle of the night. i ended up just knocking it off the back of the bed and fished it out the next day. and we too gave $5 a tooth =o)

  • patsgirl

    2011/03/14 at 1:57 pm

    This by far is one of the best posts ever! Great job! A real keeper. I once put my tooth inside my pillow case so it would not fall in the floor. My parents talked about that for along time. I had a friend who would write in tiny handwritiing notes to her kids from the tooth fairy. I was never that good. I was happy to remember in time. Congrats – on 1 million more teeth to go – and dollars too.

  • CarainAustin

    2011/03/14 at 1:59 pm

    That is simply fantastic. You are a great mom.

    This, I think, is why my sister and I had little teeth pillows. It was a small (like 4″ x 4″) pillow with a little pocket on the front. The tooth went into the pocket and in the night my parents would take it out and put a dollar in there instead. No crinkling!

  • DooceFan4Eva

    2011/03/14 at 2:02 pm

    We place the tooth in a little piece of foil. That way, it is something shiny that the tooth fairy can see. This last tooth that my son lost (he’s 11) was it for me. The “tooth fairy” actually forgot to make a stop. I was greeted that morning with, “There really isn’t a tooth fairy, is there? You’re the tooth fairy, aren’t you?” Totally busted, and glad for it.

    **btw–somehow my comment landed on the heel pain question–so sorry :/

  • Hagan Squared

    2011/03/14 at 2:04 pm

    Laughing so hard! That story just made my day a whole lot better.

  • jenstate

    2011/03/14 at 2:04 pm

    My nearly 7 year old daughter lost her first tooth last weekend after hours of sobbing that she didn’t want to give it to the tooth fairy. She lost it when eating a piece of toast and must have swallowed it because we never found it. That solved the problem of having to give the tooth away, but then the tooth fairy forgot to bring the cash. Twice. I had to email the tooth fairy and explain that the tooth had been swallowed, and that it was indeed time for her to show up. Somehow I still couldn’t be bothered to remember to put the damn cash under her pillow. Finally I just threw money under her bed one morning and told her to go clean her room so she would find it. I then told her that she had thrashed around so much while sleeping that she must have knocked the cash out of her bed. I even printed a back-dated “certificate” from the tooth fairy and threw it under the bed with the cash so she would think the money had been there all along. Now THAT is quality parenting.

  • nannyshanny

    2011/03/14 at 2:07 pm

    I’m laughing so hard my stomach hurts and I’m not making any noise…thank you for making me laugh on this dreadful Monday – and reminding me that my toddler will eventually (hopefully) grow up to be a very funny kid!

  • Dani

    2011/03/14 at 2:08 pm

    Okay I’ve been reading for a while but THAT has got to be the funniest thing I have ever read on this site.

    I’m terrified that when my little one gets to the tootfairy age I’m going to have exactly the same problem. She’s a lousy sleeper. Always has been. Gets it from both parents.

  • sarahdoow

    2011/03/14 at 2:10 pm

    Fantastic. The image of you dropping to the floor in the dark is without a doubt the best thing that has been in my head today.

  • KatieKat484

    2011/03/14 at 2:10 pm

    Seriously. I want my hypothetical children to be like Leta and Marlo. Teeth freak-outs, and face planting on food to sniff it. Awesome.
    You are a magician for finding a way to let Leta still believe in the tooth fairy. I thought she was real, until I opened my mom’s jewelry box and found my teeth. Talk about traumatizing!
    Make sure you hide those suckers;)

  • Michelle H

    2011/03/14 at 2:15 pm

    My daughter (5 and 1/2) just had her 4 bottom teeth pulled by the dentist. Let me tell you, the tooth fairy pays A LOT when the dentist has to yank them out! Now she looks like a vampire, only…on the bottom since she’s all gums and then those eye-teeth sticking so far out!

  • LtownAnne

    2011/03/14 at 2:15 pm

    We go through the same thing with my daughter, and hers is legitimately painful – somehow when those tooth roots dissolve or whatever, it leaves some VERY sharp edges which end up cutting up her gums until the tooth is fully loose enough to come out. We have restrained her to get a tooth out, we have outright lied to her, we have done whatever it takes because (a) we don’t want to prolong the hysteria but (b) with those sharp edges we don’t want to leave it long enough for her to swallow it!

    That said, to solve the T.F. issue, we told her that the Tooth Fairy wants all teeth left by the toothbrush in the bathroom, so that T.F. can check the toothbrush to make sure she’s been brushing frequently, taking her flouride medicine, etc. Hence, no laying on the floor “baking a cake”. 🙂

  • sevenmarie

    2011/03/14 at 2:16 pm

    there is an episode of This American Life (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/188/kid-logic) where the one guy’s friend saw his father taking his tooth and replacing it with money. instead of thinking his father made up the tooth fairy, he thought his father WAS the tooth fairy. so he told all of his friends. so when his friends would come over they would be like hey look at my looooose toooooth! and the dad would be like uhh…yeah that’s great little weird kid. lols!

  • Brandi

    2011/03/14 at 2:18 pm

    This has got to be one of my favorite entries. So very sweet. Love the cash ($5 is awesome), love the “tooth fairy”, loved your story of how you had a bad dream, and loved Leta “You don’t have to sleep down there!” she said. “Come up here with me!”. Very sweet.

  • Figtron

    2011/03/14 at 2:18 pm


    Five dollars? For real? I thought I hit the jackpot if I got folding money. I am so OLD.

    Outstanding effort on the recon mission. I am storing all of this important tactical info for a later date. Classic stuff, really…I snorted.

  • jalluisi

    2011/03/14 at 2:22 pm

    Holy crap. My heart is racing for you. ARGHGLY ARGH TERRIBLE!!!

  • Zipdang22

    2011/03/14 at 2:24 pm

    You need a tooth fairy pillow that hangs on the doorknob like this: http://compare.ebay.com/like/250684979205?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&rvr_id=217853798748&crlp=1_263602_309572&UA=WXF%3F&GUID=1f7999ad1200a0e20445fc25fe0252cb&itemid=250684979205&ff4=263602_309572.

    Genius, right? They’re awesome.

    My daughters, 7 & 9, still threw me for a loop…they
    wrote a letter to that damn Tooth Fairy and expected a response. Yeah…so there I was at 3 a.m. Googling “tooth fairy letter.” I found one I could add text to and printed it out.

    :-0 Heather

  • LaurieML

    2011/03/14 at 2:25 pm

    This just made my afternoon so much better!

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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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