Megan Aldrup
    Like me and my sister, Katie, my little brother went to Melridge Elementary School, where he had Mrs. Sleeman for kindergarten. My own chief regret from kindergarten is that I never made it onto Mrs. Sleeman’s Tooth Chart. The Tooth Chart was a big, laminated, grinning tooth on which were written the names of all the students who had left their baby teeth behind them. I hadn’t started to lose my teeth by the end of kindergarten, so I never got to see my name proudly displayed on that big white chart. For David, on the other hand, this wasn’t a problem. He actually lost his first tooth when he was in preschool, and the teacher sent it home in a colorful envelope with stickers on it; I was totally jealous. In kindergarten, David kept losing his teeth left and right – and literally.
    One night at the dinner table, David grinned at something while he chewed meatloaf with his mouth open, revealing a raw gap in his smile.
    “David! Smile again!” my mom demanded suddenly. David obediently bared his teeth.
    “Chew your food first, bud,” Dad told him. David swallowed and grinned again like a shark, and my dad peered at the pearly whites, taking inventory. “Well, it looks like somebody lost another tooth!” he exclaimed. He pointed to the space that was new, on the top towards the left, and we all took turns examining David’s mouth.
“Where’s your tooth, David?” asked my mom.
    “I don’t know,” came the unconcerned reply.
    David didn’t seem to grasp the sacrosanct importance of Losing One’s Teeth. He sometimes took no notice when his baby teeth came out, or pulled them out like some annoying hangnail.
    “Here, Mom,” he’d say, handing her a tooth he’d just taken out while watching Blue’s Clues. It was the same sort of “Here, Mom” as when she made him use a Handy Wipe or he had an apple core he didn’t want to hold anymore: “Here, Mom, I’ll let you dispose of this.”
    David’s neglect in keeping his lost teeth was a major concern for our family. I’m sure my mom was disappointed that she didn’t have a full collection, for whatever strange, creepy purpose moms keep baby teeth for, but Katie and I had more immediate concerns for David: free money. We knew that it was our responsibility as older sisters to explain to David the importance of the tooth fairy.
    “She comes in the middle of the night and gives you money!” Katie said.
    “Yeah, David, but you have to keep your tooth and put it under your pillow, or else you won’t get anything,” I counseled.
    “And then you can use the money to get stuff, like candy! Don’t you like candy?”
    “Or if you save a bunch of it,” I added, “you can buy a Power Ranger.”
    “Yeah!” David exclaimed, caught up by our exciting words.
    “So keep your teeth!” Katie and I both told him.
    “Ok.” But by the time he lost his next tooth, he’d forget to keep track of it.
    My family had a special “tooth pillow” for baby teeth; it was a small yellow pillow with a pocket in it that we put next to our regular pillow. The baby tooth went into the pocket and came out the next morning transformed into the tooth fairy’s reward. Since David didn’t get tooth fairy money for all of his teeth, when he did remember to keep them, he started to find whole dollars in the little pocket. By this time, I knew the truth behind the tooth fairy and informed “her” that this was pretty unfair: my teeth had been worth only a quarter each and I didn’t think David’s failure to realize the importance of tooth-keeping should be rewarded with higher prices. My dad tried to explain away the discrepancy with the concept of supply and demand, and later with inflation, which I felt were both fairly poor excuses. Eventually he brought out my parents’ favorite mantra: “Life’s not fair.” That ended the appeal, but I was still jealous of David. He got to be on Mrs. Sleeman’s Tooth Chart, and he was making a mint!
    Of course, when I say that David literally lost his teeth, that doesn’t mean we never found them. Once, my mom heard something rattling in the vacuum and found a lower incisor from the week before. A couple of times, I felt like I had a pebble stuck in my sock that turned out not to be a pebble, and on more than one occasion, we found teeth in between the couch cushions. It was a weird time in our household, even by our standards. There’s nothing quite like looking for the remote control and coming up with a small human cuspid.