This morning I had to take my 5yo daughter to the pediatric surgeon for elaborate dental work. "Baby root canal" for the tooth where the filling from last year fell out and deeper rot set in. Stainless steel crowns on all the baby molars. Several other fillings. Sealants on the 6 year molars (permanent) that just came in.
The place that does it is quite the mill. We were shepherded into a little grey room with a black leather love seat and a small laptop on a glass table on which we could play whatever video she would like. (She chose "Barbie, the Magic of Pegasus.") We sat there for an hour while the sedative took effect. The video was fortunately loud enough to mostly screen out the sounds of small children screaming in the distance. Finally the dental assistant came and took her out of my arms, half asleep, and carried her back where I was not allowed to go. Then I went out to the regular waiting room (it was sort of a relief to get away from the crying). After another hour they told me she was nearly done and did I want the doctor to pull out the loose baby tooth in front? No, I didn't.
I walked back to the room where they did the work. She was lying there with a popsicle in her hands and red lines all over her face from the masks and monitors that had been there. Only half her mouth moved when she spoke, like someone with Bell's Palsy. She was watching a Dora video. When I walked in she told me it was actually kind of fun, but her mouth felt weird. The doctor cooed over what a great job she (my daughter) had done. The bill, which I had already paid, was enormous.
Afterwards, I carried her into a pancake house for a special breakfast because she hadn't been allowed to eat before the surgery. While we were waiting for our food, she said to me, "Mom, I have a question. It may sound like a kind of strange question?"
"What is it?" I said,
"Are you the tooth fairy?"
To stall for time, I asked her how she had heard of that idea. Her friend had heard a kid in her class say, "Your mom is the tooth fairy." So, she explained, she wanted to find out if that was true. Was I really the tooth fairy?
I didn't panic. I had a glimmering of hope that there was a way out.
"Do you mean," I said, "do I turn into a fairy at night and fly around collecting kids' teeth?"
"Yeah," she said, "and turn into a human in the morning?"
"No," I said, perfectly honestly, "I wish I could turn into a fairy, but I can't."