An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • Spondo

    I love the way you retell stories. This post made me cry- I was laughing so hard! My husband came running in from another room to see what the commotion was all about. Our brain functioning is so bizarre at 4am…it’s as though we become spastic kittens or something.

  • 5midwest

    Tape/hang a cute bag (not a noisy paper bag) on the front of the bedroom door, with the tooth inside. I pulled the old “That’s what I did when I was growing up” line. We explained that every family has their own unique traditions, and the tooth fairy is totally cool with that. Maybe Leta will be keen to follow family tradition. Then clue in the family 🙂 Been following your blog for years and have enjoyed watching your growing success.

  • jilllovesbacon

    GREAT story. The whole thing was playing in my head like a movie as I was laughing my fool head off reading it.

    And a bonus: as you’re describing your foot phobia, there’s a big ol’ livingsocial ad with a close-up of a pedicure next to it. Ha!

  • floridagal73

    Holy freakin’ shit, that was funny!

  • debi rad

    Best story ever! No way could I have kept that up for three hours. My daughter was that dramatic with the tooth pulling on every single tooth! I remember sitting on her in her bed as grandma tried in vain to pull it. Promises of any toy she wanted, and finally threats if she didn’t open her fricking mouth right NOW…nope, no way was she going to do it! I don’t remember back on those days very fondly. Not my best parenting moment.

  • Em

    I think this is the best post you’ve ever written. I was laughing out loud from the beginning to the end. Thank you for brightening my evening.

    And you are, like, such a magician. I’m way impressed.

  • heykathyrae


  • KristenK

    I am not ashamed to admit that when the Tooth Fairy has “forgotten” to leave anything under my sons’ pillows I have palmed the money, pushed it between the bed and the wall, and blamed them for not looking hard enough.

    This has happened much more than once.

  • Alisha Jaybird

    I have to admit I was thinking, “THANK GOD someone else has trouble doing that!”

    I got caught. I am a tooth fairy failure. And not only that, but my kid then has to convene with his brothers to let them know Mom is the tooth fairy. Thank you, child, for dashing childhood dreams just because you love your brothers. I now just ask, “Do you want me to just give you the money now or stick it under your pillow tonight?” Where is the fun in that?!

  • sybil


  • abigail.hastings

    I just started reading your blog after coming across your book at Barnes & Noble while looking for parenting books. I love how honest you are in your writing.

  • susannydahl

    With four children I often forgot about the tooth fairy. Think how many teeth! Solution? In the very sad event that I forgot/or slept through the opportunity to deposit some cash in lieu of the tooth I tried to make up for it in the morning. I would run to the sad child’s bedroom, grab a pillow and pretend to shake it out looking for the money. Shockingly when I returned to pillow to the tooth fairy forgotten child he or she would find some cash and no tooth rattling about. SCORE!

  • jennisdrinking

    Duuuude! You need to get a “tooth fairy box”. Kids don’t put it under the pillow anymore, you get them a super fancy little box with a satin pillow in it. MUCH MUCH easier to do covert fairy missions with the box.

  • jennisdrinking

    Oh, and our daughter has done the same thing- what’s up with protecting the loose teeth? She refused- absolutely REFUSED to wiggle the last one. You know what happened? The f***** adult tooth grew in BEHIND the baby tooth (you know, like shark teeth). So then, the dentist made her promise to start wiggling it, and she had a 6-week deadline to wiggle that thing out or the dentist would pull it (no, really, they have to or it messes up your alignment- yes they would numb it first).

    And yes, she did FINALLY wiggle that thing enough that it came out. Our tooth fairy gives gold one dollar coins and jewelry 🙂

  • edenland

    Holy shit – that is such a brilliant post. You still got it, Armstrong. Fuckin’ A.

  • RedHawtRD

    Thank you for this post, I throughly enjoyed reading it. Your story telling skills are awesome (magical?). Keep ’em coming. So glad it all turned out well. Now get some rest.

  • djgonzales!

  • Buddahkat

    I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to play tooth fairy. Usually my kids came out and told me the tooth fairy forgot and I would ask, “are you sure?” and as I went to the pillow to show them I would grab the tooth and drop a single. I was cheap.
    Still am


  • hgoemans

    Finally, just when I’m about to give up. A real gem of a post.

    Not about you, your hang-ups, or YOU!! or … but about life.

    Let’s go Leta. (March Madness, after all)

    Oh, and before I forget, a nice change from the my-husband-is-an-idiot-and-only-if-he-was-as-smart-as-I-am usual CRAP of women. Yep, that’s right. Judgmental. Woman.

  • labsnabys

    I have lived almost every aspect of this story at least 5 times. In fact, with the exception of the part about being invited to crawl into bed, I could have written this story. Maybe not as well, but pretty close. 🙂

  • MissNems

    I swear to GOD when I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “I’M BAKING A FUCKING CAKE HEATHER, WHAT DO YOU THINK I’M DOING?”

    Imagine my delight in reading this post…makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  • martinifontaine

    Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary outted me as the tooth fairy to my 9 year old kid. Henry also gives up the ghost on Santa and the Easter Bunny in that book. Damn you, Cleary!!

    Heather, I’m completely impressed with your tooth fairy prowess! And at that hour, with no sleep, too. You automatically get Mother Of The Year for that one.

  • nyrican67

    Awwww! YOU GUYZ ARE SO AWESOME!!! Geez, what we do for our crumb-snatchers is ridiculous! But i have done that whole tooth-fairy under siege thing too. Good Job, Mommy and Daddy!

  • reelmomof4

    This was definitely a quality post!! LOVE the word pictures and I laughed so hard at your drop and crawl!! Way to go on being magic mom! And yea, we have been epic fail tooth faries here…

  • Alevai

    That’s really, really funny. Great story Heather.

  • Meemers

    This post made me laugh out loud at my cubical and now all of my workmates think I’m crazy. Worth it though, thanks for the chuckle.

  • lisa928

    About a month ago, my 7 year old lost a tooth and I completely forgot to take care of tooth fairy duty! When she woke up and found her tooth still wedged under her pillow and no cash in sight, she burst into tears.
    So, I did want any sensible mom would do…I waited until she was in the bathroom, shoved $5 down the back of her headboard and convinced her maybe she wiggled around during her sleep and knocked the money out from under her pillow. She found the $5 and the day was saved!! Until she asked why the tooth fairy did not want her tooth of course…

  • sh_moser

    Oh, that was the best Tooth Fairy story ever!! Thank you for making me laugh this morning.

  • Spalexi

    Oh I am a totally failed tooth fairy. My son never sleeps so usually the tooth fairy doesn’t come in the night, but waits until the daytime when the boy isn’t home. Sometimes the tooth fairy doesn’t come for like 3 days or so. I had no problem with my older 2, but this one is a challenge.

  • Guten Allie

    I could not possibly love this story any more. The whole time I was reading about the Tooth Fairy reconnaissance mission my heart was pounding and I actually started to sweat with anticipation. I’ve also had 4 cups of coffee. I don’t usually drink coffee. Way to go, Fairy McDooce.

  • Jessamaka

    My husband and I almost messed up the tooth fairy job once. Her bed is a loft bed, the kind with a desk underneath. The only way up is near her feet, at the opposite end of where the tooth is. On the big night that the tooth fairy was supposed to arrive, my husband was climbing the head side of the bed, only to knock over an entire container of light-bright pegs. The water-fall sound effect sent me into hysterics in the hall. My husband was just able to swap the tooth as the container fell. When she woke we told her we thought the cat was in her room and we were just removing it. We recently revealed our folly to her (she’s 10 now) and we laugh about it often.

  • mommioandretti

    oh my gosh. that was the funniest thing ever! i’ve been a fan for years, but this might be my favorite. kudos to you! hope you get a nap today.

  • emmiegrn

    We bought a fairy door to prevent ourselves from having to do that. In fact, we just ordered a new one because we accidentally left the first one at our old house when we moved. So, I asked the designer to make us a new one with a tooth, a shamrock and Easter eggs on it… This is what we got:

    Pretty fabulous, no? Easter baskets, teeth, etc are all left at the door. No sneaking into rooms or under pillows required.

  • saraminerva444

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

    That quote right there is proof that y’all are winning at parenting. How freaking sweet is she?!

  • taylor

    funniest. shit. ever. no, seriously. i don’t usually laugh. i might chuckle, but never laugh out loud. i was laughing so hard at this post that i had tears rolling down my face.

  • deborahjmum

    I guess that’s why my Mama convinced us kids (there were 7 of us) that the fairy would find our tooth if we left it in a glass of water on the kitchen counter. It was magically replaced with money in the morning. (This was the 1960’s, so of course all we got were coins.) And Heather, I can’t believe the person in that photo on your masthead could say, “There’s something about teeth I have a hard time with” !!

  • skone

    FIVE BUCKS?!?!? wooohooo!

  • jmanriquez

    I loved this story! As parents, my husband and I totally suck when it comes to tooth fairy duties. Why? Inevitably, we both fall asleep and forget to put the money under the pillow! The last 2 times (I have 3 kids) when a child was waiting for the fairy to appear, we forgot. And had to make up a story about how the “fairy was busy taking the teeth from other children since a lot of new babies were born who needed them. And was likely to come tonight.” The saddest part? When your child decides to write a letter to the fairy b/c you forgot 2 nights in row! “Dear Toothfairy, I promise to be a good girl if you would only come and take my tooth….” Needless to say, we gave her a lot of money that time purely out of guilt!

  • Metoday

    I am sitting at work literally laughing out loud! This is the best post ever and I love you dooce. I have followed you for several years and you still amaze me everytime. Good times!

  • Erica Snooze

    *insert something hilarious and amazing here*

    Loved it!

  • kentuckienne

    May I suggest something like this? I had one with an additional innovation: it had a handle that looped over a doorknob. I wasn’t a particularly light sleeper, but I bet my Mom appreciated the fact that she didn’t have to grope around under my sleeping head.

  • H Q

    I heart you. I really do.

    $5 is what we give our son,and I swear there are days he TRIES to pull them teeth out for the cash.

  • Sara Carling

    Hahahaha. Great way to start my morning, laughing my ass off.

    I too am a failed tooth fairy, except that this over stressed, single Mom of a tooth fairy once forgot to put the money under the pillow 3 nights in a row!!!!!!! And each morning we’d discuss the possible reasons the tooth fairy didn’t show.

    The first night she must have been confused that they weren’t at their Dad’s house. The second night she was scared of our cats, and I don’t even remember what happened the third night.

    By the time the tooth fairy came she had to pay for that tooth plus $1 per night in interest just to make up for the guilt of it all.

  • Mommy 2 Bears

    Haven’t made it to the tooth fairy years and now I know what to expect. Craptastic!

  • AmandaB

    It’s only so effing hilarious because it’s true, yo! When I read about you instantly dropping to the floor all stealth-like and army crawling to Leta’s bed, I laughed so hard Mountain Dew came out of my nose (and yes that shit hurt)! The hubby and I have done the exact same thing for all four of our six-year-old’s lost teeth. The kid can typically sleep through an all-night rager filled with 30-somethings and way too much whiskey (ask me how I know and I’ll deny everything!) but put a tooth under his pillow one night and he’s jumpier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!

    Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in weeks!

  • HeatherG

    Best post EVER!!

  • Mig

    Too cute!

  • mermaidmom

    Awesome post! At our house, we leave gold glitter (fairy dust) on the bedside table with the $. I know someone whose husband questioned why it was always his wife that got to be the Tooth Fairy. He said he would take care of it for the night, so she let him. Later that night, he assured her that he had made the exchange. The next morning, their daughter ran to show them the dollar bills that were in her tooth pillow and found that one had a message written across it: ‘FUCK THE RAIDERS’ Apparently dad didn’t pay much attention to what he pulled out of his wallet. I guess THAT would be why the wife always does Tooth Fairy duty.

  • tntmm6

    I totally fail at tooth fairy duties, regularly. When my daughter was in the 1st grade her teacher thought it would be cute to have the kids write letters to the tooth fairy and have the parents, I mean tooth fairy, write back. So, of course we obliged – and created a letter-writing, gift-leaving monster, enabling her nightly for about a month. When her first tooth finally fell out….I, whoops! – the tooth fairy forgot. The girl’s newest best friend forgot to come on the most important night.

    I’m happy to say that she handled it with grace and the tooth fairy left her a very apologetic letter and a bonus to make up for the slight. So when the tooth fairy forgot again, she was well prepared for the short disappointment, knowing that she’d get a bonus.

  • Jillsy

    You are soooo persistent – Kudos! I would have given up, course I have 3 kids and have played tooth fairy a bunch of times cuz the hubby won’t do it. This, of course, means that the time my poor middle child lost his tooth and it took the tooth fairy FOUR NIGHTS to take it, I got all the blame. I think Hubby could have stepped up on one of those nights, don’t you? You made a great day even better!

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.

read more