I hope you don’t find the box in my closet. I hope no one finds it because if they do, they’ll probably think I’m a serial killer.
There’s always a scene in the thriller when the protagonist discovers the serial killer’s lair and inside the fridge or inside the chest is a jar or a box filled with trophies from the killer’s victims. And as the reader or watcher we’re like, “Don’t look in the box! Don’t do it!” But we really want to know what’s inside. I’ll never forget a novel I read where the killer kept a stash of all his victims’ faces. He sliced those babies right off people’s sculls and kept them in his evil refrigerator.
I’ve never killed anybody but I do have a box of body parts stashed in my closet that would give you nightmares if you looked. Mixed in with all the other shoeboxes is a box filled with human teeth.
My daughter likes to borrow my shoes and every time she goes into the closet I think to myself, “Don’t open the wrong box! Because there’s no coming back from that.”
When I first started saving my kids’ teeth it really didn’t seem that creepy. I was the Tooth Fairy after all, and that chick is adorable. I flittered and floated into their rooms at night after they were sleeping and plucked each tooth from underneath their pillows, replacing it with a dollar because the Tooth Fairy has not adjusted for inflation since I was a kid.
I looked at the little tooth with its bloody stump where it was ripped out of my kid’s gummy smile and couldn’t bear to throw it away. It’s a part of my baby. I should save it.
Recently my mother presented me with my own bag of horror. All my baby teeth wrapped in calico and lace. What am I supposed to do with this? I can’t throw it away. Let’s hope I never lose a kidney because the storage on one of those is a bit of a hassle.
My three kids have differently shaped teeth and whenever I add to my creepy collection I look at the ones I’ve already taken, comparing and contrasting. My youngest daughter’s are narrow and transparent. My son’s are wider and more robust.
I picture the FBI crashing into my home and discovering my box of teeth. They start digging up my backyard looking for where the bodies are buried and I keep insisting that I just like to save my kid’s teeth in a shoebox in the closet like any other normal, dedicated mother.
I wonder if saving them in a cuter box would make me feel less creepy. I bet Pinterest has some ideas, although I don’t want to find out. The plain shoebox is working for me.
Last summer my daughter lost a tooth at camp, and then lost the tooth at camp. It’s lying in a field somewhere in North Georgia, no doubt, but luckily for her, the Tooth Fairy was very forgiving and showed up anyway, leaving her a note that it’s okay and she’d find the tooth and whisk it away to safety.
The very first tooth my oldest lost here in the States was when she visited us for the first time when she was eight. Unfortunately, it was her six-year molar and it was abscessed. Welcome to America, where we will drug you and leave you to the mercy of an oral surgeon. She was a total badass about it, and the Tooth Fairy paid her handsomely, with five whole dollars, some Littlest Pet Shops, and a card explaining that losing grown-up teeth garnered a bigger reward for special circumstances.
So within that box of baby teeth is one ginormous grownup molar, pried from the jaw of a very brave girl whose chaperone translated English to Russian through the whole thing.
Last week my son crawled onto my bed and said, “Mom, I have a question and be honest, BE HONEST, okay?” “Ask me and I’ll tell you the truth,” I answered, having no idea where this was going but secretly wondering if it was sex-related.
“Is the Tooth Fairy real?”
“Do you want the truth?”
“I KNEW it. It’s you, isn’t it? At school the kids were talking about how it’s our parents.”
“Yep. You figured out the game. Good job. And now you have to play the game for Evie, okay? You’re in on the big secret.”
With a proud smile on his face, he nodded, then asked, “But … can I still get a dollar when I lose my tooth?” “Of course,” I replied. “We’ll keep playing the game because it’s fun.”
He looked relieved, content to have one foot in the grown up world and one still happily planted in childhood. I won’t show him my killer tooth box.
Photo by Ashlee Gadd.