Things fall apart

By Mir
October 1, 2007

On Saturday, Monkey burst into our room bright and early to let us know that his tooth hadn’t yet fallen out—this being the one next to the one he lost last week, which was flopping all crooked and gross yet refusing to let go—and later we tromped off to the fields for a morning of soccer. Once again, it was gripping, cut-throat competition, with our team ultimately reigning triumphant. And by that I mean that the mom who brought snack had oranges AND Cheez-Its AND granola bars.

I think we won the game, too. I’m not sure. Monkey spent a lot of time acting surprised whenever he was called back into play. “I’m playing AGAIN?” he would ask, looking around as if to say, hey, I’m pulling up some important grass over here, you know, “ALREADY?”

When it was all over we piled back into the car and came home, only to discover that a house had landed on our resident witch.

Oh, wait. That’s not quite right.

What I meant to say is that when it was all over we piled back into the car and came home, only to discover that a tree out front was falling apart all over the street and, um, some power lines up above.

I’m not sure that this picture really captures it, but it was a fairly freaky site to behold, particularly because it’s not as though we were having a hurricane or anything when it happened. It was a beautiful day with the barest puff of wind, and when we left the tree was in one piece. When we got home? Not so much. And now I had several hundred pounds of tree dragging those power lines down right in front of my mailbox, which seemed bad.

The kids oohed and aahed at the sight and I sent them off to play while I called the power company. There are no humans working at the power company on a Saturday, by the way. “Yes, hi, I’d like to report that I have a tree dangling from my power lines? I still have power, amazingly, but I’m thinking you might want to come cut down the piece of tree in question.”

I hung up the phone and paced. What, exactly, was I supposed to do now?

I watched as various neighbors walked out into their driveways to cluck disapprovingly at my misbehaving tree. Periodically I would open the door and wave. “It’s okay!” I’d call out. “I called the power company! So, um, surely we’ll get it taken care of! Thanks for your concern!”

(Otto was away, I guess I should mention. Had he been here I’m sure he would’ve known what to do.)

Eventually one set of neighbors took pity on me and came over to report that they had called their friend who works for the power company, and he’d be over shortly. We stood in the driveway chatting—mostly about how apparently this is what these trees do, just fall to pieces for no reason—until the friend showed up. He hopped out of his truck, looked up, and said, “Yeah. Those are phone lines.”

At this point I was unsure what would happen next. Because it was just the phone and not power, did that mean we could just leave it there?

No, actually now I had two manly men at my disposal, and within minutes there was a chainsaw going and they were cutting down the wreckage while we womenfolk dragged the pieces off to the side. It was sort of like a quilting bee. It was a wreckage bee! Afterwards we all square danced.

We had to stop and have a conversation about whether or not the crazy lady who lives next door would pitch a fit about the pile of branches which we had heaped up in the common area between our properties, so that was fun. I posited that since the alternative was a tree dangling from the phone lines, we were probably okay. (For the record, she was later seen outside scoping out the situation and looking surly, but she didn’t say a word. She can’t! That would ruin her 3-month run of refusing to acknowledge that we exist.)

So that was pretty exciting and all, but afterwards (after thanking the neighbors profusely for their help) life went on. The rest of the day was uneventful. Sunday morning Monkey bit into a frozen pop-tart (breakfast of champions!) and finally his nasty snaggletooth let go, so we cheered and put it on my nightstand for safekeeping. Later we went to church and then in the afternoon I looked around my house and was gripped by how disgusting it was, and I spent the rest of the day vacuuming from top to bottom and mopping and dusting and barking at the children to put their things away.

Eventually the INSIDE of the house was clean, even if the landscaping outside left something to be desired.

It was nearly bedtime when Monkey remembered that he needed to get his tooth out of my room. So he headed in there with a ziploc…

… and couldn’t find it.

I responded to his wailing and came and searched along with him, and in slow-motion television-style several events flashed through my head:
* going in to make the bed *
* deciding the rumpled bedclothes needing a good shaking out *
* fluffing up the sheets and bedspread *
*** gee, do you think that knocked the tooth off the nightstand? ***
* vacuuming everywhere *
* noticing something rattling in the vacuum by my nightstand *

Oh. No.

Monkey became distraught and fled up the stairs, wailing that we needed to perform an operation on the vacuum cleaner. I continued to search for a bit, half-heartedly, because I already knew the truth. I had suggested that we could just write the tooth fairy a note explaining what happened, but he was having none of it.

Otto sidled up next to me. “Do you still have his tooth from last week?”

Oh, brilliant Otto! I did, indeed, have the companion tooth. (Yes, I don’t know so don’t ask. I have most of their teeth. It seems wrong to throw them away, even though it seems creepy and gross that I’ve kept them.) It had a ridge up top that the recently-lost one did not, so I managed to snap that extra bit off and then take it upstairs as the “found” tooth. Otto pointed out that if Chickadee had swiped the tooth (she claimed she hadn’t) that this would likely blow her mind. She seemed unperturbed so I guess the vacuum theory was correct.

Then, of course, came ANOTHER problem, because by this time Monkey wanted to write out a whole note and it was time for bed. I gave him two choices: Put it under your pillow without a note or save it for tomorrow, because there’s no time to write a note right now. This caused a fresh meltdown, and after trying to be patient for a while I finally snapped that he’d best make his decision while brushing his teeth and he had 60 seconds to do so.

Otto and I were cleaning up in the kitchen when we overheard the following exchange.

Chickadee: It’s okay, Monkey, you can just write her a note in your MIND!
Monkey: No I caaaaaaaan’t!
Chickadee: Don’t cry, buddy! Sure you can! Just think really hard about what you want to say. The tooth fairy can read minds!
Monkey: But I want to wriiiiiite something!
Chickadee: So just think it out real carefully in your head. Honest. Listen, just think like, “Dear Tooth Fairy, I am a dumbo.”
*here Otto and I clapped our hands over our mouths at exactly the same time to stifle our laughter*
Chickadee: Or WHATEVER. She’ll know.
Monkey: Why would I tell her that I’m Dumbo?
Chickadee: Never MIND.

In the end he opted to wait a night. I tell you what, it’s hard being a little kid.

Hey, at least his tooth didn’t take out a bunch of phone lines.


  1. Jenny

    So glad all’s well that ends well. But, so no one performed a toothectomy on the vacuum cleaner after all?

    Also — Bradford Pear trees = tragic. I think they’re cheap, so lots of builders use them to re-tree a neighborhood after it’s been built; but as you see, they get too heavy to support themselves and fall apart. We just took one down in our yard. It had made it, in a scraggly kind of way, through two ice storms but was now so big and precarious and dangling ominously over our garage that we decided to put it out of its misery. I hate cutting down trees, but it was time.

  2. tori

    Where my mom lives (in New York) trees seem to do that all the time. Who knew? Glad you are safe and got it all taken care of!

    That tooth thing is really funny! I still have all the teeth my kids have lost too. I have no idea what to do with them either.

  3. StephLove

    Sorry about the tree. The picture is lovely, though. It’s nice you live amid such greenery (even if it does come crashing down periodically). And if they’re all that species, think of the anticipation, waiting for the next one. Never a dull moment.

  4. Megan

    Teeth SQUICK me. It’s where I totally lose it as a mother – I can’t do teeth. I know that the joy of a wiggly tooth is mostly in getting other people to admire it but my poor Children had to refrain when it came to me. When they actually lost the things I did my very best to convince them that the tooth fairy ALWAYS picked teeth up from the trash can but they were having none of it. So me? I didn’t save even one of their precious pieces of face ivory – I didn’t even want to touch them. I guess it’s yet one more way that I’ve scarred the Children for life – do you think it would make it up to ’em if I started collecting fingernail clippings instead?

  5. Bob

    Chickadee: ……“Dear Tooth Fairy, I am a dumbo.”
    Monkey: Why would I tell her that I’m Dumbo?

    this made me laugh out loud. He’s already practicing to be the married old man who pretends he can’t hear so he can aggravate his wife.

    which is exactly what I’m currently practicing. all signs are it’s a success so far, my wife threatened to examine my ears for excess ear wax last night.

  6. ChristieNY

    Brilliant Otto for the idea to use the other tooth!!!

    What a day Mir! Glad everything turned out alright! :)

  7. Juliness

    As a young girl I remember digging in my mom’s jewelry box for something and discovering some of my old teeth. It sort of freaked me out. I suggest you not ever tell Chickadee or Monkey you’ve saved teeth that have fallen (or been dramatically pulled) from their mouths.

  8. chris

    Dear Tooth Fairy, Take my sister instead. Or WHATEVER.

    I just laughed out loud.

  9. Leandra

    I’m with Megan — teeth squick me too, but only when they’re loose and dangling in the mouth. Just typing that gave me the heebie jeebies. Once they’re out, I’m fine. I, too, will probably keep my children’s teeth if I can ever find anyone willing to come over and pull them for me.

    My mom kept mine and I found them when I was a little older and thought it was kind of cool. Perhaps you could make a necklace with the old teeth? You know, sort of like a pearl necklace, except with teeth.

  10. Beth

    I KNEW that was a Bradford pear even before I looked at the picture. That’s what they do; randomly fall apart. They grow to full size in 15 years, which makes them a favorite of the house-building community. But they fall apart in a year or two, which makes them the home-owner’s nemesis.

  11. All Adither

    Maybe you could leave all the teeth under the crazy lady’s doormat.

  12. el-e-e

    Wait… you can freeze Pop-Tarts? I never knew that. Perhaps I am a DUMBO.

    (that line was priceless)

  13. Suebob

    About the saved up baby teeth – they can be used in research about radiation. It is pretty amazing – here is a linky

    Baby teeth research project

  14. Sheila

    My daughter lost her first tooth unbeknownst to anyone while she was visiting my in laws with my husband (and without me). It was the first thing I noticed when they arrived home at the end of the visit. When I began exclaiming, “Hey, look at that!” and congratulating her, my husband had to actually ask what all the fuss was about. (A major milestone, missed–I’m still a little sad about that.) Anyhoo, seeing as the tooth was lost in the literal sense, we had to write a note to the Tooth Fairy. And then she forgot to come. There were many tears and gnashing of remaining teeth the morning after, and I felt like such a schmuck. Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy’s secretary left a nice apology (her schedule is really quite hellish–who knew?) and a small bonus coin the following night and all was well.

    It seems to me that Otto has saved the day more than once now in the Tooth Fairy department. I may need to borrow him from time to time.

  15. LuAnn

    Poor l’il guy. Once the tooth fairy “forgot” me and in the morning, the tooth was still there and of course the money was not. So my brother (about 7 at the time) went and got me a quarter from his piggy bank.

    I haven’t thought about that in YEARS. Thanks for bringing it back. :)

  16. The Other Leanne

    We never wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy–that’s a new one for me. No envelope either. I just put the thing under the pillow for Mary Ann (don’t ask how I knew that was her name)and in the morning !Voila! a dime had appeared (this was before the inflationary index raised the value of a baby’s tooth). Only once did I wake and find the tooth still there, but Mary Ann took care of it properly the next night. Many years later I found the envelope in my mom’s jewelry box with a little tooth in it. I also now own the envelope with the little lock of blonde hair in it. Teeth and hair saved for the day when cloning becomes possible, I suppose.

  17. Kellan

    What a busy (crazy) day! That is the cutest conversation (Dumbo – HA!). I’m glad to hear he decided to wait – time to write a real letter.

  18. Cele

    I saved teeth too, I have no clue why. My daughter thought it gross when I informed her that I had them and three of my dog’s baby teeth too.

    “Oh gross mom, NOT TOGETHER I hope?”

  19. mama speak

    Megan if you collect nail clippings I’m grossed out–at least say it’s only finger nails!

    LuAnn–I love that story of your brother and you. I have vauge memories of my brother and I doing similar things for each other, and I look forward to the days when my girls do the same.

  20. Jodi

    Mir – That call my friend who works for the power company and then two men with chainsaws? That is the South, bay-bee.

    BTW – I have kept my boys’ teeth, too. And their (whispering) umbilical cord stubs. AND my older son’s thumbnail, which he lost during Little League when an inside pitch broke his thumb. Yeah, creepy.

    So the crazy neighbor didn’t bake you a pound cake and bring it over when you moved in?

  21. Jamie

    My oldest swallowed his first lost tooth, so he had no choice but to write the tooth fairy a note. The second lost tooth… lost at school. Another note. Maybe with number three we’ll be able to put just a tooth under the pillow! Somewhere, I believe I have the envelope with all of my little lost teeth in it that my mother saved. A little icky to think about now!

    I think there are two Jamie’s here – I guess next time I should call myself “the other Jamie” like Leanne does.

  22. Sarah

    My mom saved all my teeth and gave them back to me when I got older. I still have them, thought I admit that they kind of gross me out–and they’re mine! I’ll probably do the same for my kids someday, even.

  23. Shalee

    I can’t keep up with my own stuff, let alone my kids’ teeth. Kudos to you for being so organized.

    Your kids’ conversation was a classic! Dumbo… cracks me up.

    And my back deck is SURROUNDED by Bradford Pears. I’m not saying a thing because I don’t want to jinx them one way or the other!

  24. Matty the Stranger


    Thanks so much for your words. I am so jealous that you have trees to fall apart (we pretty much have cactus out here in the desert)… saving teeth… hmmmm… not something I would ever consider, but maybe my son’s mom will…

    thanks for sharing… cruise by my blog sometime if you have a chance, i love comments!!!

    Matty the Stranger

  25. Em

    I thought I read somewhere that you could make baby teeth into jewelry. I don’t know who would want to but there you have it. I looked for a link and couldn’t find one so either a) I made up the whole thing or b) you have yourself an entrepreneurial opportunity in the untapped market of all of these moms with drawers full of baby teeth and no money for diamonds and pearls (thanks to the toothless children they tirelessly parent) or c) all of the above.

  26. dynamitt

    Saving teeth seem a bit yucky to me, but then again I don’t have any kids who can lose their teeth yet…

  27. ScottsdaleGirl

    What is the purpose of saving teeth?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  28. Heather Cook

    Hmmmm so be wrong… or be creepy and gross.

    I have also chosen creepy and gross. It’s genetic. Just after my son lost his first tooth, my mom brought out her jewellry box to show him all MY baby teeth.

    To which he smartly replied, “why do you have them instead of the tooth fairy?”


  29. KendalsWife

    I’m guilty of saving my kids’ teeth as well. The purpose of it? I dunno. I guess I had it in my mind that I’d keep the first tooth lost, kind of like saving the lock of hair after a haircut. But, then after the second tooth, I kind of felt like “why is the second tooth not worth saving any more than the first tooth?”, so I have ’em all.


  30. Kristen

    My older son lost his first tooth back in August. We had just been to the store. I was buckling his little brother into the carseat when I noticed that he had blood on his lip. He was convinced that he had only pulled out “something between my teeth” and wouldn’t believe that he had pulled his tooth. I asked him what he had done with it and he told me that he had “put it on the ground.” (Why child? Why the ground?) I had to walk around the car and search the ground for the tooth. Luckily, I found it so that the tooth fairy could bring him his Spiderman car (my kids prefer the toys, and it was only $1 at Target).

    I think my mom has all the teeth that ever fell out of my mouth or my sister’s mouth. Now I’ll have to ask her.

  31. Tracey

    The tooth fairy round here has had to deal with notes.. we’ve had teeth lost down drains and the like. The tooth fairy allocated to our area is also either forgetful or just too busy, so by the time #3 has been losing teeth, she doesn’t necessarily expect her to come on the first night! Phew. We have one lovely kids book about a tooth fairy that gets lost on her first job, then nearly gets seen, then drops the tooth.. so my youngest will believe anything!

  32. cindy lee

    Delurking to share a really neat idea for baby teeth. I also hated to throw them away but had no idea what to do with them…I have a sea shell mirror and those little teeth look like sea shells.( kinda) Glue the teeth in with the seashells and no one knows they are there unless you later it will be fun for the kids to ” find” them after the gig is up on the tooth fairy. You have to have a lot of sea shells for this to work but it is such a fun idea I had to share. I have read your blog for years and enjoy it very much…and welcome ( a bit late) to the south from Tennessee :-).

  33. carolyn

    I have all my children’s teeth too, and they are 14 and 12. I can not bring myself to throw them away, either.

  34. b*babbler

    Oh, I laughed and laughed at this.

    And really, what *do* you do with the teeth? It seems wrong to keep them, wrong to throw them out. A whole dilemma, really.

  35. PajamaMama

    UGH – MY mom saved our …. wait for it ….
    vaccination scabs!!!!
    Yup, and she taped them into our baby books along with wisps of hair. And I’m pretty sure she still has my baby teeth…and I’m 44!

  36. Brigitte

    Vaccination scabs!? AAUUUUGGGH!!!

  37. Sophie

    “Afterwards we all square danced.” I’m still laughing at that a day after I read it.

    In these he-ah pahts, are you sure it wasn’t buck dancing?

  38. Susan

    I have also recycled a tooth. In fact, I have done it TWICE.

    Creepy part is, I have NO IDEA where those other two teeth went. Ugh.

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