A journey of emotions
Ada’s first tooth came out on Sunday morning after two agonizing days of it hanging by a thread. When it first became loose, a week prior, she immediately asked for a “very crunchy apple,” thinking it would pop out immediately. But over the week it got looser and looser, she compulsively wiggled it, and with that her anxiety grew.
The anticipation was around the fear of pain and blood that she imagined would come with the tooth coming out. Around Thursday she began requesting only soft foods. She resisted brushing her teeth. “I don’t want it to fall out!” She screamed. “It’s going to hurt!” To be fair, I can’t actually remember what losing teeth feels like. Perhaps I blocked it out for some reason, but I didn’t want to promise something I couldn’t back up, so I just insisted it wouldn’t hurt and crossed my proverbial fingers.
The drama heightened on Saturday morning when the tooth was so loose it would bend 90 degrees, front and back. Everyone had some advice for her, which she didn’t really want to hear. I volunteered to yank it, which earned me a hiss. My mom gave her some Sour Patch Kids, leftover from Halloween, hoping the gumminess might pull one out. Julian offered her a piece of his Halloween candy. We all tried to motivate her by telling her the tooth fairy would come, only for her to insist she didn’t want the tooth fairy to come—she wanted to keep the tooth…in her mouth.
By late afternoon she was moaning about the tooth constantly. She worried she’d swallow it while sleeping, and suggested she stay home from school Monday to deal with it. As it turned out, it popped out with zero fanfare while she watched “Wild Kratts” the next morning, eating sweet potatoes at her grandparents’ house, which is pretty much what I’d expected.
It was 6:57 a.m. and I know this exactly because it’s when she barged into my room and woke me up. “Let’s call papa!” She screamed. “I lost my tooth!” Then, we called her uncles and aunts, all before 7:30 a.m. so she could announce this tremendous milestone to everyone and anyone who’d listen. “If we see anyone today, tell them I lost my tooth,” she said, and by this she meant literally anyone.
She swung the tooth around with abandon and took it in and out of a ziplock bag at least a dozen times within the hour. Upon seeing Jacob, who’d been in Miami for seven days, she proudly grinned at him with her new gap-toothed smile. It was at this point she realized she’d somewhat predictably misplaced the tooth, somewhere between her grandparents house and Brooklyn, maybe in the car, maybe at the rest stop, maybe on the side of I-87 somewhere, creating a new worry the tooth fairy might not come.
She dictated the note she wanted to leave for the tooth fairy, despite it being missing: “Dear Tooth Fairy, Please can I keep my tooth because I want to show my family. Yes or No. Love, Ada” I wrote this then she added, “IT IS OK IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE ME ANYTHING,” a surprising addendum coming from this particular hoarder.
She wrote multiple other notes for the tooth fairy that she left around the house: “Do not accidentally eat Julian’s marbles,” one said. “Tooth Fairy, go to the other room,” said another, placed on Jacob’s pillow. Later that night, Jacob crafted a note back and we discussed the appropriate compensation. We decided on $5—which seems like insane tooth fairy inflation since my childhood, but also it was a first tooth.
When she woke up, she came moping into the kitchen. “I don’t think the tooth fairy came,” she said. We went back and found a note tucked inside her pillow. “Did you open it?” I asked her? She had not. She found the $5 inside, and lit up momentarily. “$5! That’s A LOT” she said, before looking glum again. “It’s just that I thought if I told the tooth fairy I didn’t need anything maybe they would bring me something?” The reverse psychology had apparently not worked according to plan, but this was also not the moment to teach a lesson on appreciating what you got, which I’ve learned doesn’t go that well when plainly dictated.
Ada considered her options and proposed that MAYBE if she got ready fast we could stop at the toy vending machine outside the bodega near school. Motivated by this proposition, she fished out a few quarters from her money box, and got herself ready and Julian out the door faster than I ever have.
At the vending machines she dropped in a few quarters. With 75 cents, she got a bouncy ball that looked like a knockoff Magic 8 ball, an extremely cheap ring, and a rubber pencil topper shaped like a hamburger. The church bells rang to signal it was time for school and we headed over to the line. “Thanks, mama, you’re the best,” she said, tucking these insignificant objects into her pocket and feeling richer than the $5 from the tooth fairy. “You can even have this hamburger if you want.” I told her to keep it, questioning my entire parenting approach, and my desire for her to not feel disappointed, but then landed on the fact that we had all made it out the door early on a Monday, and the kids were going to school without resistance, which was a victory, unto itself.
Recommendations for the kids:
Listen: The Mystery Kids Podcast for real-life mysteries and inexplicable historical events like Tsunami Ghosts, Yetis, and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in kid-friendly form. Ada loved this episode about Ghost Ships.
Almost December: My kids somehow discovered the phenomenon of advent calendars, so I’ve procured this very cute Sugarfina one, which comes with very delectable sounding tiny treats, not that anyone needs more candy rn.
Read: The NYTimes/NYPL pick their list of the Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year. This includes one of our recent favorites, It Fell From the Sky, by Eric and Terry Fan.
Recommendations for the grown-ups:
Listen: to this podcast episode of The Daily, The Untold Story of Sushi in America
Socks: Darn Tough makes my favorite forever-lasting merino wool socks. They are also guaranteed for life.
Cook: This chicken rice soup with garlicky chili oil is the dinner congee you didn’t know you needed. Use stock in lieu of water + add sautéed shiitakes and a fried egg for a meal I will probably eat every day all winter. It’s so damn perfect.
Read: This interview that’ll probably make you feel like you’re overly worried about keeping your kids happy, being a parenting advice star, allowing your kids to feel distress, and more with Dr. Becky of the Good Inside Podcast by David Marchese in NYT Mag.
Thanks for reading. Send me your recommendations on things to read, listen to, and cook. See you next week.