May 14, 2013By Russ


When I was in middle school I wanted to be a superhero, with the powers of flight and hands that shoot electricity being my powers of choice. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was be an actor. Now that I’m grown up, with a six-year-old in the house, my hopes and dreams no longer reach to the stars. They center around a single item on my bucket list: yanking a tooth from my child’s face.

It wants to be free!

My son’s front tooth had been dangling there, begging to be plucked. Every time he opened his mouth, I’d see this front tooth sinking lower and lower next to it’s toothy neighbor. Bound and determined to achieve my rite of passage as a father, I would encourage Noble to let me tie a piece of dental floss around the tooth.

“That tooth really wants to come out,” I’d say. “Go in the bathroom and get the dental floss and we’ll take care of….”

“You’re not pulling it out! It’s going to come out natural! Quit talking to me about it!”

Natural? Wait for it to come out natural?! That wasn’t how this was supposed to go! That’s so passive and boring. I chalked this non-agressive approach to life in California, where the motto of the people contains words like natural, organic, recycled plastic, and energy crystals. It doesn’t help that my wife is an Ed Begley in training, and it’s bleeding into my son. For instance, Noble would never allow us to use the drive-thru at McDonald’s because of his conviction about the low quality of their beef and their treatment of animals. At times, he’s even declared vegetarianism, but I strongly suspect that he is just saying that to get out of eating dinner. “I can’t eat those meatballs. I’m a vegetarian.” This lasts only as long as it takes for me to remind him that hot dogs are meat.

So we’ve been waiting for this dang tooth to fall out on it’s own. I was taking every opportunity to work my sales pitch. Using his impatience as my lead in. He would come up to me, whining about how his tooth is never going to come out. And I would jump on it, like a desperate car salesman, “You want this out, and I can help. I’m not going to pressure you, this is completely up to you. But if you act now, we can get this sucker out and get you that tooth fairy money. You like money, money buys toys, and just think of what you’ll be able to get. Tell you what, for today only, if you let me yank that tooth, I’ll throw in an extra two bucks…”

“NO! You are NOT YANKING MY TOOTH OUT! Quit telling me to yank it out!”

And so the story went for a couple of weeks.

Then, a couple days ago, my wife picks Noble up from school, and there is a large space where his tooth used to be. And that’s as climactic as the tale goes. According to his reenactment, he was eating a strawberry and it fell out onto the table. He picked it up thinking it was a strawberry seed (and here I thought strawberry seeds were tiny black dots) and realized it was his tooth.


While I was disappointed that I didn’t even get to be there when it happened, I was extremely happy for my little man. And the excitement continued as he prepped his tooth for pillow placement. Now, as a huge advocate for not needing to cherish every moment of parenting, I do believe the lit up eyes of a child, the night before the tooth fairy arrives, is definitely cherish-worthy. So I did.

When he woke up, he reached under his pillow and pulled out the folded up cash. How wonderfully exciting it was as Noble unfolded the money and said, with dramatically slumped shoulders, “Hey, this is only two dollars. Why did I only get two? Jasper got ten dollars for his front tooth. You said this was a big tooth and I’d get the most money for this one.” Ah, crap… It is in times like these that I wish there was an across the board tooth rate. Like going to Bankrate for the current mortgage rates, it would be nice to have a Fairyrate for kid teeth. “Look at that, molars are going for $1.45 today. Up from $1.25 last week.” Although, the downside to this is that kids would start watching the rates like day traders obsessed with the ticker, and either ripping their teeth out prematurely or doing everything possible to keep their teeth as they hold out for the better deal. But at least I wouldn’t have to try and explain why our tooth fairy is a cheapskate and Jasper’s tooth fairy is the Bill Gates of magical creatures.

There are currently three other loose teeth in my son’s mouth. I hang on to the hope that I will get to pluck at least one the old fashioned way. If it doesn’t work out with Noble, there’s always Alistair, my pluckee on deck. And if it fails with Alistair, I will still be a happy, proud father. Even without the victory of pulling a son’s tooth out, there are many other great personal victories I’ve achieved as a parent. Besides the glory of going bald, and the wild experience of having high blood pressure (which I directly relate to raising these two boys), I also boast some amazing crows feet! More accurately, though, I would say it’s a family of crows river dancing around my eyes.

Lookin’ good, but I’m comin’ for those other teeth!


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