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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Forgetful Tooth Fairy

I had another loose tooth. I was excited, because a loose tooth always fell out sooner or later, and then I would get a visit from the Tooth Fairy! Of course, I didn't believe in the Tooth Fairy - not really. I just pretended to believe, and so did everyone else in my house.

I lived in a large, large house. "My house has three stories, an attic, and a basement," I told my friends at school. “My bedroom is on the third floor, and my mom calls to me through the air vent from downstairs, and I can hear her. But we have to be careful not to close the door to the stairway because the doorknob is broken. Once I got stuck behind the door and I had to wait until Mimi heard me yelling and let me out. Our house has FIVE bedrooms!”

My friends weren’t listening anymore. They were talking about peanut butter instead. So I wiggled my tooth with my tongue, twisted my brown braid around my finger, and wondered what the Tooth Fairy would do this time.

My Tooth Fairy tended to be forgetful and confused. More than once, she had left money under Pop-pop’s pillow by mistake. Another time, I had to run round the house finding nickels under every pillow. And then, last December, I had found a note under my pillow in place of the tooth. “Look for your money under the smallest pillow in the house,” the note said. I picked up all the small pillows, and still I found no money. Finally, I knew where to look - the nativity scene, on the coffee table in the living room. Tucked under Baby Jesus’ head was a quarter.

As I smiled, remembering Baby Jesus in the manger, my tooth fell out! Break time had ended half an hour ago, and my teacher was writing “Insect reports due Friday” on the chalkboard. I tasted blood. I raised my hand, and the teacher called my name: "Yes, Sharon Rose?"

“My tooth just fell out. May I get a tissue?” I said.

“Yes, you may. Would you like to go to the water fountain to rinse your mouth?” said my fourth-grade teacher.

“Yes, please,” I said. I quietly left the room. My teacher understood about loose teeth and forgotten milk money and drawing pictures on your desk. I used be scared of her, because last year, when I was in third grade, this teacher had caught me skipping in the hall. She thought I was running, but I was really skipping and singing, “See you later, alligator. After a while, crocodile,” in a very soft voice.

But this teacher had scolded me and told me to go tell my third-grade teacher I had been running in the hall. I did tell my teacher, and she just nodded her head. With 29 kids in that class, I was the least of her worries. But I never skipped inside the school again.

When I came back to the classroom after drinking from the water fountain, my fourth-grade teacher was sitting behind her desk and the class was doing seatwork. I slid into my seat, which was near the teacher’s desk. My teacher raised her eyebrows and said, "You didn’t tell me you had a loose tooth."

I whispered back, “I didn’t, until right after lunch. All of a sudden it was loose, and then it fell right out!”

“Your mom will be surprised, “ said my teacher with a grin.

“So will the Tooth Fairy,” I said to myself. I didn’t say it out loud, because I didn’t want my classmates to know I believed in the Tooth Fairy.

That afternoon, when I got off the bus, I walked into the house just beaming. “How’s my bad little kid?” said Pop-pop. “Did you get any more zeros on your worksheets?”

“Yes,” I said, and showed him my test on the Civil War. The teacher had written “100” at the top in red ink, with eyes in the zeros and a smile below.

“Got any kisses for me?” said Pop-pop, and he puffed his cheek in and out. I gave my grandpa a kiss. I could smell his coffee breath and feel his scratchy whiskers.

Then Mimi called out from the kitchen, “Is that my Sharon Rose?”

“Look, Mimi!” I said, dropping my book bag and running through the dining room. I smiled big and pointed to the empty spot in my mouth.

“You lost a tooth!” said Mimi. And she gave me a soft, warm hug. “I hope you still have it. The Tooth Fairy will want it, you know.”

“It’s wrapped in paper in this pocket of my bookbag.”


That night, up on the third floor, Mama read to me from Little Women. I fell asleep listening to the way Jo made friends with Laurie by coming over to cheer him up when he had a cold.

“Sharon Rose, it’s time to get up!” Mama called. I rolled over in bed. I hated waking up. It was my least favorite thing to do. But as I ran my tongue over my teeth, I felt as though something were different, and then I remembered!

I sat up quickly and flipped my pillow over. Nothing! Not a note, not a coin, not even the tooth I had put there before going to bed. What a disappointment!

“Mama, you remember I lost my tooth yesterday, right?” I said.

“Yes. Why?” Mama was in a hurry, like every morning.

“The Tooth Fairy took my tooth, but she didn’t leave anything for me.”

“Just keep getting ready for school, Sharon Rose. I’m sure the Tooth Fairy just made a mistake. Maybe she’ll be back tomorrow night.”

Slowly, I pulled on my shirt, skirt, socks, and shoes. I couldn’t understand it. This had never happened before. What was wrong with this Tooth Fairy? Why couldn’t she just play by the rules? She always wanted to pull my leg. Maybe she was still mad at me for swallowing the second tooth that ever fell out. Luckily, that happened on the same day as the first tooth, so I had still put one tooth under my pillow that night. But did fairies hold grudges? Judging by Tinker Bell in the Peter Pan story, I guessed they did.

Oh, what nonsense. The Tooth Fairy was just Mama - or Mimi - or maybe Pop-pop. Between the three of them, you’d think they’d get it right, I mused.

I silently ate my breakfast oatmeal and then trudged back to the second floor bathroom to brush my teeth - the ones that were left. I picked up the toothpaste tube and reached for my toothbrush. My eyes widened, and a smile lit up my face. Tied around my toothbrush with a rubber band, was a dollar bill.

Thank you, Tooth Fairy.


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