Tooth and Consequences

“Dang it!” We were doing something, or rather Seth was, and whatever he was doing didn’t go as planned. So, this expression flew out of his mouth. Before too long, it became his go-to; a one-size fits all phrase to express his great disappointment in a moment, an action, a circumstance.

It took me a while to correct him. Finally, when I heard it three times in the course of an hour, the very first hour he was home from summer camp, I said, “Seth, when you use that phrase, it sounds like you don’t know enough words to express how you feel. We know this is not true. Will you please, please use the words you mean, next time? Like: That’s disappointing.”

“Ok, Mom.” I think he was too tired to argue. Or to point out that his parents have been unapologetic about our actual potty mouths, for just about his whole life. To be clear, in our house, there are no “bad words,” but we try to emphasize that there are certain words that cannot and should not be uttered by children in public, and that a person should do his or her level best to be descriptive in conversation. Sometimes, that means my kids’ parents are explaining to one another how few fucks we give about a certain situation. But other times, we just plain say what is on our minds: “That’s annoying. That’s disappointing.” “This is crap!” Ok, that last bit is what we might say when the dogs poop in the house. Anyway, you get the idea.

At bottom, I don’t want my kids using cop-out language. The more specific they are, the better communicators they become, the better understood they are by the world around them, and frankly, the more able they are to process their actual feelings. So, that’s the “why.”

So, last night, we’re at dinner, and Seth loses a tooth. Or he pulled it out, perhaps. Anyway, the tooth that was previously in his mouth was now, along with some blood, in his hand. I wrapped it in some tissues, tucked it into my purse, and sent him off to wash his hands, and rinse his mouth. Which he did. Upon returning home, he asked for the tooth, was presented with a piece of cling wrap in which to encase the tissue-wrapped item, and tucked it under his pillow.

Lance, by now, was goading him about whether the Tooth Fairy is real, and whether it’s actually you know, me. “How will the tooth fairy know to come to the house?” Seth asked. You could tell by the way he asked that he was walking that line between knowing it’s me and wanting to believe it’s a real fairy. Lance says, “Oh, no problem, I’ll send her a text.” I heard this as background to my putting away my shoes, brushing my teeth. And then, I realized I never should have given that kid a phone. Ping! Ping! My iPad and iPhone were competing with each other to tell me I had a text. Let me be clear: I give a fuck about my kid believing in the tooth fairy until he is 40, so this was not ok. Thusly, when my beautiful firstborn child arrived at my side, smirking,

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

to tell me, “You have a text,” I did what any good mother would do: I flicked him on the forehead, with my finger, while announcing, “I flick you on the forehead!” in a silly accent. Because silly accents make flicking your child’s forehead okay, somehow. No, not really. But I stand by my flicking. Because Tooth Fairy, dammit.

Actually, Seth thought the flicking was so much fun, he kept taunting me: “You’re the tooth fairy!” And then I would flick him. And then I would flick his brother, twice, for not knowing better than to ruin his brother’s (MY) fun. One important detail, here, is that Lance is almost my height. So he thinks he’s almost as powerful as I am. Eventually, he will learn that is never to be. No child is ever more powerful than his or her parent, ever. For now, he thinks it’s a real thing. So he tried to flick me. Seth got in on it. They conspired, without exchanging a single, actual word, in fact, to tackle me onto my bed so they could flick me. Well, no. No. Definitely not happening. “Get out, go away, leave my room!” We’ve just finished a remodel, and there are still odd objects, like mirrors and sculptures propped against walls in my room. We were in a particularly tight corner, and there was a mirror, and I said, “If you don’t leave now, that mirror is going to get broken, and this won’t end well.” So, they started to leave. Because they are not idiots, in actual fact. As evidenced by the ploy Seth attempted: “Mommy,” he said, arranging his features into his “I’ll always be your little baby Sethie” face, “I just want a little hug.”

“Nope, nope, sorry, not now, not happening, I love you, get out.”

And as he walked away, he tossed me a faux sad look and said, “That’s the first time you ever said no to a hug.” And then: “That’s disappointing.”

And then I was so busy doing my happy dance about the fact that he not only skipped the Dang It, but used the little lesson against me in a knowing, ironic zinger, I almost forgot to leave the money under his pillow, and definitely forgot to write the traditional tooth fairy letter that some idiot decided was a good idea when she only had one kid, and no actual idea about how many teeth fall out of a kid’s head during childhood. But that’s another story. Which I promise to tell, later. Sorry if that’s disappointing, but right now, I’m not sure I can find a fuck to give.


  1. Norman Cohen · August 5, 2015

    “Dang it”, I can’t find the f’in’ words to describe how perfect this piece is!


  2. Pingback: Irreverent Parenting Movie Night | Bari Nan Cohen

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