These days, kids see their mouths as gold mines. Every lost tooth is a cause for celebration, probably because they get a couple bucks per tooth. Inflation, I guess. I never got more than a quarter for mine.
I remember having a loose tooth and my dad, Grampy Grumpy, tying one end of a string to my tooth and the other to the bathroom door and slamming it shut, violently yanking my tooth out of my mouth in a gout of blood. I was terrified. Kids today would probably come running and want to pull teeth that weren't loose. It's just a baby tooth, they don't need it, they'll gum their food.
I don't know what to do with all these teeth my kids lost. I have a box full of human teeth. I feel bad throwing them out, but, on the other hand, it's creepy and looks like a serial killer's trophy box.
Swapping the Little Professor's teeth for cash always was easy, because he sleeps like a rock. On the other hand, the Sassy Saint wakes up if a floor board creaks. One night, I waited until almost 1 a.m. for her to fall asleep, and she still woke up mid-swap. I'd already retrieved the tooth, but hadn't yet stuffed the money under her pillow.
"What are you doing?" she asked, groping under the pillow.
"Checking on you."
"The tooth fairy took my tooth ... there isn't any money!"
I panicked. "Go look in the bathroom! Maybe the tooth fairy left it in there!"
She must have been tired, because this made sense to her, and she jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom. As soon as she left the room, I hurled the cash under her bed.
"Sassy! I found it! It fell under the bed!"
I am a bad tooth fairy.
My nephew, Fatty Lumpkins, lost a tooth recently. As soon as I walked in the door, he sprinted over, hoisting the tooth like an Olympic gold medal and caterwauling, "Auntie Sum, Auntie Sum, I lost a tooth!"
These kids always have the volume turned up to 11. Always.
"That's cool," I said. "Don't forget to put it under your pillow tonight."
"The tooth fairy's gonna bring me money!" He was dancing with the tooth. He loved this tooth. This tooth was going to make him a rich man.
"Nope," I said. "The tooth fairy retired."
He stopped, his eyes as big as dinner plates. "No more tooth fairy?"
"Nope. She retired. Spider-Man took over."
If his eyes got any bigger, they'd fall right out of his head. He loves Spider-Man. "Really?"
"Nuh-uh," scoffed the Heathenish, his older brother. "Spider-Man doesn't do that!"
"Spider-Man is uniquely suited to collecting teeth," I told them. "He can climb up walls and hang upside down. He doesn't even have to come into your room - he can shoot a web under your pillow and grab the tooth. If I were you, I'd look around for webbing tomorrow morning."
By this point, even the Heathenish was unsure. "You're lying."
"Aunties don't lie, it's against the rules."
The next day, Fatty Lumpkins was shrieking before I even got the door open. "Auntie Sum! Spider-Man came! He came and took my tooth! It was Spider-Man!"
Aunties don't lie; we spin yarns.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)