Losing Teeth But Not Their Childhood

IMG_3317(2)My monozygotic twins have never looked alike to me, but there are many people who, for some reason, can’t tell them apart. Now, though, these people don’t have an excuse because one of my girls has lost a baby tooth!

For days after reaching this milestone, my daughter showed off the gap in her teeth, while her twin cried, “I will never lose a tooth!”

As parents, there are few events we can predict with certainty, but that my daughters will lose all of their teeth and, per the Tooth Fairy’s egalitarian ways, make the same amount of money, are promises I can make.

Still, my second daughter desperately wants to lose the next tooth, having declared recently:

“I have a wiggly one, too!”

“Which tooth is it?”

“I don’t know, but it’s somewhere. Mar told me I have one.”

It’s sweet that her sister is trying to make her feel better by devising this make-believe game, which they’ll probably play until the Tooth Fairy finally makes its second visit; or, more realistically, its third visit, as the twin who has already lost a tooth now has a second one wiggling around.

Fancy Nancy and the Too Loose Tooth Interior IllustrationDuring this trying time of gap envy, one of the books we’ve been reading is Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth.* In this story, Nancy’s jealousy isn’t about losing a tooth–she already has a loose one–but about where she loses it. She wants to lose the tooth at school, to great fanfare, not at home.

My children can identify with the benefits of losing teeth at preschool, where everyone applauds when the tooth pops out and where the teachers call the parents to announce the good news. It’s a big deal, and it’s difficult for siblings who are the same age to reach this milestone at different times. Reading about Nancy’s experiences reminds my daughters that pride and jealousy are normal feelings–it even happens to Fancy Nancy–and it encourages them to express themselves.

Having misplaced our paperback copy of this story, we’ve been reading the ebook on the iPad. Many people criticize parents for allowing kids to use modern technology, such as the unoriginal attack that it’s “killing childhood” for the same reasons previous generations complained about television, video games, films, and even books,** but we feel fortunate to be able to integrate the iPad and other gadgets into our family life. I think we’ve found a balance between “plugged” and “unplugged” that works for us. It tends to be an interactive experience, as it’s common to see all three of my girls huddled around the same iPad engaged in a game or listening to a book, like Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth.

It’s great having a backup ebook version of this story, but I have to admit that reading children’s books on the iPad is far less enjoyable than reading traditional paper books. The screen is far too sensitive, jumping to the next page whenever I point out a word to my kids. It’s frustrating, and usually one of my girls gets annoyed enough after a while to request that we read what she calls a “regular Fancy Nancy,” one with “soft pages” (to quote Harper Lee). I hope that we’ll find the “soft pages” version of this story soon. Then, the iPad can return to being a tea party and a paint set, two of the activities my children enjoy most.

*Cover illustration by Robin Preiss Glasser ; interior illustrations by Ted Enik.

**Basically, one of the strands of this argument chastises parents for allowing their children to play on gadgets rather than interact with other children in person. I agree that parents should monitor how much time their children spend on these types of activities, but modern technology isn’t all that different from any other solitary activity we’ve had in the past. I was a quiet kid who read books and often skipped playdates. It’s okay to want to be alone, even in a room full of people.

A happily "unplugged" child (the iPad hasn't ruined her) who almost has all of her baby teeth
A happily “unplugged” child at Longwood Gardens yesterday (the iPad hasn’t ruined her) who almost has all of her baby teeth


    1. Thanks for the link!

      There’s something very sad about losing the bookstores of my childhood, but nostalgia isn’t a good enough reason to save an entire industry through artificial means. We should be doing what we can to encourage competition among retailers, but there’s no reason those retailers have to be in bricks and mortar book shops. So, there will be fewer of them, and the ones that remain will have to appeal to particular niche markets to survive. I will travel to visit a quirky indie book shop with great taste, but I won’t travel to visit a large chain book store that only stocks bestsellers.

      As for libraries, there will always be a need for them because books, whether in traditional form or digital form, can’t be available only to those with the means to purchase them. Besides, librarians always know the best books to recommend!

      1. I depend on librarians. I would miss having them. As for bookstores, I personally buy my books for my iPad when I can, so I am not so sure I would miss them. Other ‘real’ books I get online. A good friend of mine’s daughter opened a specialty kid’s bookstore four years ago and has not made a living off of it yet. Unlikely she will either in this age of bookstore closings.

        1. Yeah, it must be tough to own a specialty kids bookstore right now. However, considering how much my kids love traditional books, I could see us going to a bookstore like that. We can’t be the only ones. So, maybe there’s hope for your friend’s daughter!

  1. Their hair is so pretty! Just like them. I’m so glad you put me onto Fancy Nancy. I definitely intend to have some soft copies available for future kidlets.

    1. Thank you! It was quite a surprise when their hair turned out to be that color. It will probably darken as they get older, but it’ll always have a lot of red in it. We love Fancy Nancy in this house. My girls really identify with her.
      I hope you’re having a nice weekend!

  2. I think it is great your girls get along so well and look out for each other. The story of the “wiggly tooth” is cute and it will surely happen in no time. I think it funny too the want the “soft pages”. It shows the emotional and tactile power of books.

    1. I’m so glad that my girls get along as well as they do. I hope it will always be that way. I also think it’s interesting that my girls want traditional books, but I wonder if that will change once the books they read have more words and no longer contain illustrations. They’ll interact differently with books when that happens.

  3. First off, I have to say that I LOVE that you’re using books to help your children grow. As a book lover, I instantly loved this post and think your twins (who are adorable by the way!) are very lucky to have you for a mama.

    I think technology is a beautiful thing…in moderation. That’s the key to everything.

  4. Some one told us this tradition early in the ‘losing teeth’ experience, and we embraced it at our house. If you leave the tooth in a glass of water beside the bed (not a teeny tiny tooth under a pillow with a sleeping head), the tooth fairy has to dive into the water to retreive the tooth. In doing so, some of her fairy dust will turn the water whatever colour her dress is that night. In the morning, our children were more excited about the colour of the water than the amount of money that may have been left. Nice twist on leaving the tooth and took the focus off the money (until they got older!)
    I try to spread this tradition where I can!

    1. That’s a great idea! Thanks! I’ll try that the next time around. I’ll probably just suggest we leave it in water, and when they wake up to find that it has changed color, we can discuss why that might be. I’m curious to know what they’ll say.

  5. Great post! When I was a young mother, I was grossed out by teeth that had come out and watching a child jiggling a loose tooth made me queasy, so I applaud your being able to have a sense of ceremony about this milestone!

    1. Thank you! The idea of it makes me a little queasy, too, but the first one wasn’t too bad. I think I might have had a harder time had it fallen out in front of me instead of at school.

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