The first tooth came out last week, and the kid came running into the living room, blood still weeping from her gums. She was holding it high over her head. She was proud of it.
How could I not keep it? This was another milestone of childhood. A marker that we'd crossed from the temporary teeth of babydom to the permanent teeth of adulthood. It was one of those cloyingly bittersweet moments, when I felt embarrassed to be so sad and yet so so sad that I didn't have time to be embarrassed.
I made up my mind in that moment when I wavered between blubbering and high-fiving my proud 5-year-old. I needed to keep track of that tooth. Because after fairy visit time, I needed to hold onto it in order to hold onto my sanity.
I know what you're thinking. I'm weird. My husband thinks so too. He was unable to take the incessant wiggling of the tooth, shuddering at the thought of that little piece of bone dislodging from the root. And now that it's out, he wants it gone.
So it was I who took care of the tooth fairy business. His contribution was to suggest a $20 payout for the first tooth, proving his daughter has him wrapped around her little finger (as she has from day one). It earned him my "what are you, NUTS?" look. I got his version of "the look" when I returned from slipping a more reasonable $5 under her pillow with a little Ziploc baggie in my hand, tooth inside.
"What are you doing with that?" he asked.
"Putting it in the dresser," I answered.
I think he cringed. Literally, shoulders up, hands back, full-on cringed. This from a guy who had no problem changing diapers (that first one in the hospital -- "well, I have to learn some time"). I don't think he started breathing again until I slipped the baggie into MY dresser, in the drawer farthest away from his side of the bed. I intend to keep it there, and add to it as the teeth fall out. All 20, hopefully.
I'm not generally that mushy gushy kind of mom, and so I took my husband's furrowed eyebrow to heart. But I didn't realize keeping the teeth was such a big deal until I hit the Internet to prove him wrong, to find evidence that I'm just a normal mom, not a "nutso-cuckoo, the kind who keeps the first dirty diaper kind of mom (I'm not, by the way)." The fact is, I couldn't find much on "keeping child's teeth" besides advice on how to "keep" them healthy. One mom is convinced that if she keeps her kids' teeth, then one day in the future, they'll be useful for stem cells -- even though there's currently no science backing her up.
Otherwise, there's not much more than a bunch of folks calling me -- or folks like me -- nutters. Actress Susan Sarandon apparently held onto her kids' teeth, had a bracelet made of them, and has been declared creepy by the Interwebs. A friend mentioned he broke his tooth on Facebook, and I jokingly offered him my daughter's to fill the void until he hit the dentist. He wrote back confused -- doesn't the tooth fairy know where your house is?
Yes, duh, of course she does. But what does the tooth fairy USUALLY do with the teeth? Grind them into bones to make her bread? She's giving the kids money in exchange for those little chompers; they must be worth something to somebody!
So I'm keeping my kid's teeth. Maybe I'll put them in an empty Gerber jar like my mom did. Maybe I'll store them for 20 years and then throw them out (which I think my mom did too ... pattern?). But let's face it: sometimes, Moms are weird. At least my kid will have something good to talk about with her therapist when she finds that Gerber jar in a decade or two.
Do you think it's weird to keep your kid's baby teeth?
Image by Jeanne Sager