I couldn’t look at her.
Just the sight of Ittybit wiggling her loose tooth made my stomach flip on end.
With the crooked tooth dangling mid-mouth, she resembled Tow Mater from the movie "Cars" as she gazed into the bathroom mirror. She sounded Muppet-like when she asked me to pull it.
It had been hanging by a proverbial thread for days and she was ready for it to come out.
"Please?" she begged, hoping to expedite the process as well as add to her already bloated bank account. Three previous teeth have greatly inflated the piggy bank.
Our Tooth Fairy — thanks to the combination of poor financial forethought and a surprise tooth loss — set a payment precedent with a five-dollar bill.
(Had it not been for the Tooth Fairy’s desire for a chi-chi coffee drink the day Ittybit’s first central incisor came out, the damage could have been worse).
"Let’s just let it fall out naturally," I said to her stocking feet, thinking about the dust in my wallet and my desire NOT to think about the tiny bit of flesh tethering the tooth.
It also reminds the squeamish me about all those dreams I’ve had in which I spit out every tooth, one by one.
I’m told I shouldn’t worry about loose tooth dreams. It’s just the mind’s way of dealing with anxiety and aging and saving face. Perfectly natural.
I mean, it’s not as if I fear my twice annual cleanings.
I like my dentist. He calls my teeth perfect, even though I have the tell-tale coffee stains of adulthood and an acquired lower-tooth overlap. He has a similar smile.
My orthodontist, however, would cringe if he saw me now. All that work to correct my bite lost because of vanity and the desire to stop wearing a retainer.
Our Tooth Fairy, I told myself, should save her money for the dental bills.
After all, the poor girl got saddled with her mother’s crowded bite and her father’s susceptibility to cavities. One look in Ittybit’s mouth revealed her future will be filled with tinsel and rubber bands. Not to mention drills and fillings.
Ittybit cares about none of that. The fact that a space will appear where her tooth is now dangling is omnipresent. She plays with her toys and wiggles her tooth. She colors a picture and wiggles her tooth. She pets her cat and wiggles her tooth. She dances around the room, and stops only to wiggle her tooth.
Breakfast will do it. She eats some toast, dozens of apple slices, even a bagel with butter … still the tooth hangs on.
"Why doesn’t the Tooth Fairy bring a new tooth brush and floss," I wonder aloud. "Probably for the same reason she has run out of singles," I answer under my breath.
"What?" asks Ittybit.
"You know," she says, her tooth flapping as she talks, "I’ve always wondered how the Tooth Fairy gets into the house?"
I wonder why it doesn’t worry her that some strange sprite will break into our house in the dead of night, steal into her room while she’s sleeping and extract a tooth from under the pillow beneath her sleeping head.
I suppose the ‘loot’ is worth the looting.
"Oh," I wave, matter-of-factly, "It’s just magic," as if magic was something one could just grasp from the air whenever it is needed.
And with that Ittybit starts to scream and dance about.
In her hand is a tiny square, and her smile is filled with gaps.
It’s the best sight ever.