the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The topic that keeps on giving

You probably didn’t think I could squeeze yet another story out of my child losing a tooth, and now you’re like, WAIT, you’re going to talk about her losing a tooth AGAIN?! I AM OUT OF HERE. If that’s so, could you take the end of this string that is tied to one of her top teeth and yank it on your way out? That will save everyone from having to read about that one!

(Story of the first one. Story of the second one. Story of the third one.)

Why kids just can’t lose all of their teeth in one go is a mistake of evolution. Let them walk around without any teeth for a few days. There’s plenty of applesauce and pudding to go around, and we could all sit there and laugh as they try to make a TH sound.

Instead, they have to lose them one at a time, and Leta has been losing hers at such a slow rate that she keeps forgetting how easy it was to lose the one that came before. She keeps forgetting that NONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN TRAUMATIC. Like, a maniacal alien did not crash through her roof in the middle of the night, kidnap her, transport to her some bright operating room on a spaceship and yank out her loose tooth with the claw of the abominable snowman. Although how cool would it be to go to second grade and be all, guys, you’re never going to believe what happened.

One morning last week I was straightening her hair as she was brushing her teeth when she suddenly stopped and said, “Mom. I’m going to tell you something, but before I do you have to promise that you won’t stick your hand in my mouth.”

And I was like, okay, if that isn’t the strangest sentence to ever come out of her mouth.

“There’s this tooth,” she said. “And it’s really loose. And it feels really weird, and I hate that it feels weird.”

I paused to let her know that I was considering her dilemma. “Maybe it needs to come out,” I said. “That way it will stop feeling weird.” Behold my reasoning skills. Thank god for college!

“NOOOOO!” She screamed and then sealed her lips shut.

“Leta,” I said. “I’m not going to get anywhere near your mouth. Look. My hands are behind my back. Open your mouth and YOU show me how loose it is.”

She rolled this request over in her brain for several seconds and then finally opened her mouth to show me a bottom tooth barely hanging on with its broken pinky finger. I mean, that thing was just dangling, lifeless, wheezing. No wonder it felt weird. That tooth had been prepared for burial and was lying there in a silk-lined casket and the cranky mortician was standing there impatiently tapping his foot.

I kept my promise and didn’t stick my hand in her mouth, and yes, I get some MAD credit for resisting that urge. Well, not really. Because… ICK. Ew. Yuck.

That afternoon my cousin McKenzie picked her up from school, and when Leta walked in the door she was strutting. Like, straight up swinging her arms side to side as if surrounded by a posse of young boys with their jeans hanging off of their butts. This is not normal. Usually she comes home from school exhausted and irritable from all those hours of eye-rolling.

“Look at you!” I said. “You look happy. What’s up?”

She didn’t say anything and just kept strutting until she was standing in front of me. That’s when she dramatically moved her head to look at my arm. I had no idea what was going on until McKenzie said, “I think she wants you to hold out your hand.”

(That paragraph will be quoted one day to point out that I’m such a lousy mother that I had to have my cousin translate what my daughter was trying to say. And then someone will call me DOUCHE and we’ll all take a shot!)

I held out my open palm where she placed her now free bottom tooth. So itty bitty! So ready to move on to its next life as a piece of a “seashell” necklace that the tooth fairy will hawk on Etsy!

What makes this tooth story different than the other tooth stories? She pulled this one herself. Or, as McKenzie would tell me later, she completely freaked out as the last tendril of root gave up and the tooth started floating in her mouth. But Leta doesn’t need to know that we know that.

I told her I was so, so proud of her and then she high-fived me so hard that she hurt her hand. Being eight years old is really working out for her.

  • Regency Romantic

    2012/03/05 at 1:46 pm

    Awesome possum for your eldest girl! Tooth pulling is scary stuff!

  • Desmondiva

    2012/03/05 at 1:54 pm

    Hahahaa!! The root gave up!! That just cracked me to pieces. Oh Leta, that girl is so cute. And when she nodded at your arm! Heather, c’mon what else could that possibly mean?? Thanks for the hysterical laughs this Monday. I think my co-workers want to know what I’m laughing at, but are afraid to ask. Good thing too, because what would I say? The last tendril of root gave up!! hahahaha!!!!!

  • hollyscole

    2012/03/05 at 2:07 pm

    I think my daughter is Leta’s doppelganger. The tooth loss is excruciating and slow!! After losing the one right next to the front teeth, the other side tooth has been hanging on (and jutting out) for four months. And like Leta, mine would never, ever agree to help it out. And so we slog through, with “gently” toasted toast and tiny slices of apple, arghh!

  • poopinginpeace

    2012/03/05 at 2:38 pm

    Oh Heather! I too have used my daughter, Sonya, losing her teeth stories quite a few times on my blog. Here are my favorite two:

    Although that second one is less about her and more about parental error. Oops. Just last week, she came to me and said her tooth was loose and wiggled it. It looked like it had a while before buying a casket. I told her it wasn’t ready, yet she went to her room and three minutes later was screaming out “Mommy! My tooth came out!” Yes she yanked that thing right out of her mouth. She does not have the same problem as Leta does with worrying about it hurting upon exit. No, she welcomes the blood and pain because it means she gets money and this time a picture from the tooth fairy. Here’s the website to do that.

    TOTALLY WORTH IT! She was so excited the next morning. Good luck with losing the rest! Sonya seems to be on a streak. I think we are up to seven lost now.

  • bawb23

    2012/03/05 at 2:49 pm

    28 baby teeth, 2 kids – that’s enough for 1 story a week for over a year. No reason that will ever get old.

    No, no reason at all.

  • ladygray

    2012/03/05 at 2:55 pm

    holy moly. i loooove the teeth posts as much as i hate loose teeth – that is to say, violently. i laugh wildly while attempting to curl up and hide from the fact that i will have to be dealing with the loose teeth of my two boys sometime in the near-ish future.

    i’m so glad to hear that this tooth gave up the ghost on its own, it gives me logical reason to hope that ALL OF my boys’ teeth will fall magically out without my having to get involved. is it too much to hope that i won’t ever have to look at them either?


  • Yvonnne

    2012/03/05 at 3:18 pm

    Dude, you haven’t made me pee myself laughing in a good while!!

    Atta girl on both counts!!

  • alevai

    2012/03/05 at 4:11 pm

    The teeth stories are legit some of my favourites.

  • zpetals

    2012/03/05 at 4:55 pm

    I love that. I love all of your teeth stories and naturally they all made me laugh and laugh.

    Of course, my baby lost his first tooth the other day at school, so we didn’t have to mess with all the drama—and the tooth fairy brought him a dollar AND a 3 in 1 Lego set. Here’s my personal take on it:

    Seriously, bittersweet and funny, this parenting thing.

  • Mom Gone Mad

    2012/03/05 at 5:09 pm

    My NINE year old son has yet to lose one tooth by himself. The dentist finally decided it was time to get things moving and yanked 4 teeth out at once. Imagine if Leta had to go through that! What a blog entry that would be!

  • hanniy

    2012/03/05 at 5:59 pm

    I love, love, LOVE the tooth stories! It’s such a big deal to a little kid, and reading about tooth escapades brings back so many memories…

    My five year old daughter just lost her first tooth, and it was quite awesome. She’s such a trooper!

  • Keri.M

    2012/03/05 at 7:45 pm

    My daughter is 8, too. It’s a sweeter age than 6 and 7. I think it’s b/c they have had a big enough taste of doing scary things by themselves and really appreciate mom support more. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

  • melikescake

    2012/03/05 at 8:03 pm

    of course, I’ve no idea about the kind of responses you get to your posts, and yea, I can just guess that there are some weirdos out there giving you shit at every step… but I also have no doubt that most of the people following your blog are cool and positive. and what about you focus on those ones.. noticed that lately, on so many posts, you say stuff like “That paragraph will be quoted one day to point out that I’m such a lousy mother that …” or “screw all y’all” and so know, get a permanent tatoo with haters gonna hate:


    …and maybe post with those who like you in mind; I guess that might even help you to say something the days you’d prefer to just give up this blog thing, altogether.

    i believe that the huge majority of those who read your blog are people who like you, are not judgemental, are smart and nicely interested in this completely new thing that you do, which is talking about your life, your great kids, your momentary troubled relationship and normality in general.I say fuck the haters, and by that I mean ignore ‘em?

  • LittleBlueWorld

    2012/03/05 at 8:06 pm

    All these teeth stories are birth control for me. Nothing grosses me out more than teeth falling out. And it didn’t even cost the taxpayers any money!

  • susanruffin

    2012/03/05 at 9:38 pm

    Dooce, I’m a long time fan. I’m not being flippant but are you perhaps gay? Is that what’s going on and I’m just too stupid to figure it out? Cami seems to be a great part of your life now. Feel free to not post this…I think lots of people would benefit from your life…just wondering, sorry to intrude.

  • melikescake

    2012/03/05 at 9:57 pm

    see my point? :))

  • dooce

    2012/03/06 at 6:05 am

    @susanruffin wow. You nailed it. I’m totally gay.

  • J. Bo

    2012/03/06 at 12:30 pm


  • J. Bo

    2012/03/06 at 12:34 pm

    P.S. I’m going to be SO sad when MARLO loses her wonky front tooth. It’s so much a part of her beautiful, dimpled, maniacal face…

  • erineliza311

    2012/03/07 at 1:14 pm

    Yay Leta! As the mom of a 2nd grader myself, I can empathize with this tooth loss thing. Why does it have to be so traumatic though? I thought that was only supposed to be when they were coming in, not falling out…

    My son is the same way. He lets his get all grey and dead until we are begging him to let us pull them out, but cries these big fat crocodile tears and refuses.

    Finally, I took charge, I’d had enough of the whining and refusing to chew on the afflicted side. This last time I told him that when he was sleeping I was going to sneak in his room and yank it out. He didn’t believe me. It was one of the top little ones, next to the big front two. I wrapped a square of TP around my thumb and forefinger, pried his little mouth open, and yanked that sucker out. He mumbled an “ow” and rolled over. I stuck it in a bag and placed it under his pillow.

    He didn’t even notice it was missing from it’s place in his mouth until several hours into playing the next morning. Then he spent a good 20 minutes scouring the playroom for it. We all had a good laugh about it later!

    So, I don’t recall what type of sleeper Leta is, heavy or not. But this may be an alternative to consider, the next time you have a dangler! I can’t wait to read how it goes if you try it!

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