Sometimes the only difference between whether an event is positive or negative is the perspective of years.
My 7-year-old grandson, Micah, was so proud to show off his wiggly tooth to me recently. This would be the fifth tooth Micah has lost so far and, as you may recall, a person’s permanent tooth count when you’re his age is a major status symbol.
Nothing is more exciting when you’re in first or second grade than having a loose tooth. If you’re lucky enough to actually lose your tooth while you’re in school, (which Micah did), in front of your classmates you will be a rock star for the rest of the school year. And if a drop or two of blood is involved in the process, then, oh man, you’re golden.
Then there’s the added bonus of the Tooth Fairy. I was surprised to learn that the Tooth Fairy’s subsidy payments these days have increased dramatically since I was a kid.
I remember putting my tooth in a jar of water and setting it beside my bed for the night. Next morning the tooth would be gone but a shiny dime would be in its place. That was a fortune — a dime in 1960 could buy two packs of Topps Bubble Gum or two Hershey bars or 10 pieces of Bit-O-Honey peanut butter chews. Whatever pain losing the tooth may have cost you was more than wiped out by these dividends from the Tooth Fairy.
These days, Micah tells me, the Tooth Fairy leaves dollar bills. In one case we know about, the Tooth Fairy left a $20 bill, but that was apparently boosted by federal COVID-19 economic stimulus payments. Which is why many of us are suffering from inflation now — too much Tooth Fairy money floating around in the economy.
But back to my point. Losing teeth is a win-win game for Micah with definite social and economic benefits.
When it comes to people your age and mine, the perks diminish. We also lose teeth once in a while. I have always had healthy teeth but when a couple of them cracked and I had to have them removed, I asked my dentist what was going on. I take care of my teeth; I don’t use them for tools or other purposes for which they are not intended. How come I’m having problems now?
His answer was simple: after a lifetime of chewing, teeth just get worn out. Even good dental hygiene doesn’t guarantee you won’t have occasional tooth problems.
But at my age, and yours, losing teeth does not elevate us in the social stratosphere. People don’t think it’s cool that we’re losing teeth and they certainly don’t want to watch you pull one out in public.
What’s worse, the deadline for reimbursement from the Tooth Fairy has long since passed. Even all those dimes and quarters (or even $20 bills) you have saved up over the years won’t make a dent in your dental bill.
So if you have a grandson or granddaughter or other young person who is jubilant over losing their wiggly baby teeth, rejoice with them and maybe pitch in for the Tooth Fairy’s gift. That joy won’t last forever.