“We better hope that the tooth fairy comes to Matthew and Seth’s house tonight and puts some new teeth back into Seth’s mouth, right Mommy?” Owen mumbled, glancing up at me, his mouth full of Cheerios. Milk was dripping towards his chin.

The buzz of my every morning halted—I froze mid-way through buttering waffles, pouring orange juice, and packing lunch. I focused on the spot of milk that was caught in the dimple in Owen’s chin, as I said in slow motion, “Yes, I guess so, Honey.”

Yes, I guess so? No. That was wrong. The tooth fairy doesn’t replace lost teeth. They grow back. The tooth fairy—she. . . c’mon, brain. What does she do?

“Owen, the tooth fairy doesn’t put teeth back into people’s mouth. She takes the baby teeth away after they fall out and brings a little gift for the child who lost it.”

Does she? Was this even right? What would our tooth fairy bring? Brent and I hadn’t even thought about the tooth fairy yet, let alone figure out what she was going to bring for our kids. How old were kids when they lost teeth? Ours got them late. Didn’t that mean that they lost them late? How old was Maddy again? 5. That’s right. She’s only 5. Where would these lost teeth even go? Where did people get those pillows that I had when I was little?

In a matter of seconds, my brain was flooded with everything tooth fairy.

But my children--5, 3, and almost 2--picked up on my momentary weakness and started firing:

“Mommy, what do you mean, the tooth fairy brings people presents?”
“How do your teeth grow back?”
“Where does the tooth fairy live? Is she in the North Pole, with Santa?
“Isn’t it too cold for her there?”
“Does she live with the Easter Bunny? Wait—where does the Easter Bunny even live?”
“How do I eat when I lose my teeth?” . . .

. . . Then Maddy started tearing up and Owen was already crying—possibly at the thought of losing all of his teeth?—and Cora’s words, what words she has, became muddled together and started matching the tempo and volume of her siblings.

“Will there be a lot of blood when my teeth fall out?”
“What if I eat my tooth?”
“How will the tooth fairy know when my tooth falls out?”

Ohmygosh. I glanced at the clock. It was 8:12. In the morning. My backup was at least ten hours away, and I hadn’t even poured my coffee yet. Why--oh why--hadn’t I thought before I repeated the seemingly joyful news of my friend’s son’s lost tooth the minute after I made preschool driving arrangements with her today? Now what?

The phone rang. It was my mom. A wave of relief washed over me.

“Nanny’s on the phone!! Who wants to say good morning to Nanny?”

In a flash, focus shifted. Once again, my mom came to the rescue. How many times in my life had my mom come to my rescue? More than I could count. Thank goodness for my mom—and for preschoolers’ short attention spans—at least now I had some time to work out all this tooth fairy business.

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