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.
During 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.