We were eating dinner last night and my wife noticed something.
"Max, look at me," she said to our 8-year old son. "Smile."
He gave her a tight lipped grin.
"Open your mouth," she commanded. He did, opening wide and trying to keep his lips over his teeth. We could still see it. Or rather, we couldn't see it.
"Did your tooth fall out today?" she asked. He's had a very loose top front tooth for a couple weeks.
"You little bugger!" I said. "I asked you if that was a tooth in your backpack and you said no."
Earlier that day...
When my son got home from school I emptied his backpack. After I pulled out his folders and library book I noticed an oddly shaped white object at the bottom of his book bag (along with several important rocks).
Upon closer inspection I discovered that the white thing was shaped like a tooth and it rattled when I shook it. Tape held the lid shut.
"Did you lose a tooth today at school?" I asked.
"No," he said and went right about his homework. Forget the plastic tooth, him going right into homework should have clued me in that something was amiss. But alas, I am a father and am therefore subject to severe lapses in reason and judgment.
"Okay," I said and went back to work.
We now return to the story already in progress...
"You lied to me!" I said, putting my fork down. "What's up with that?"
"I was going to trick you because I think you're really the tooth fairy," he said. My wife and I exchanged meaningful glances and started laughing. He was laughing, too, the gap from his missing front tooth now on full display.
"Dude, I'm not the tooth fairy," I said. "The tooth fairy has hair, and she does not have a goatee."
"And she doesn't like it if you try to trick her," my wife added. "Where's the tooth?"
He surrendered the tooth and we went through several more adamant rounds of denial. We couldn't believe the nerve of that kid! Too funny...
Later that evening...
"The kids are asleep, it's time," my wife said. "How much should we give him?"
"A buck is the going rate. That's what he got last time." I opened my wallet. A ten, a lottery ticket (estimated value $65 million), and several receipts. "Shit. How much do you have?"
"A five. We're losers," she said.
Wait, it gets better...
I didn't have a dollar. She didn't have a dollar. But we knew who did have a dollar. The little fiend who tried to trick us. My wife snuck into his room and got his money box and brought it back to our bedroom.
"Do you think he knows how much is in here?" she asked me as she pulled out the cash and selected a one-dollar bill.
"I'm sure he does. But if we give this to him and he puts it in there and then counts it it will be the right amount," I reasoned.
She put the dollar under his pillow and came back with the plastic tooth. We fished out the real tooth and admired it for a moment.
"Damn. Now we have to put this back," I said, fingering the plastic tooth case.
I crept into his room, cringing as the springs in the doorknob moaned and the hinges creaked. Both kids stirred briefly, but were clearly sound asleep. I tiptoed to the bed and slipped the tooth case under his pillow and then got the hell out of dodge.
The next day...
He still believes in the tooth fairy. But I'm wondering what kind of post Santa Clause is going to inspire this year...