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.

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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