"Mom, can I have a napkin? I'm ready to pull this tooth out." He pointed to a very wiggly bottom tooth.
This was kind of huge. He looked like someone who is trapped by a boulder and needs to saw off his own arm: He's made his decision and he's terrified, but he is drawing up his courage. It was killing me from the first moment.
He insisted he didn't want me to do it, so I walked with him into the kitchen and handed him a paper towel. "It's ready to come out," I said. "Just pinch it up from the gum."
He probed and poked around his tooth for a long time. Or it probably only seemed like a long time. He would give it the gentlest of tugs, with no result. Finally, when it seemed like he had worn out his nerve, I said, "Do you want me to do it so, so quickly?" One instant after he said yes, the tooth was out, and he yelped, "Ouch! That didn't hurt!"
With the scary part behind him, he grew expansive. "You know," he said, "that's the first tooth I ever lost on purpose."
"What happened to the others?" I said.
"Well," he said, "they always just came out on their own. You remember that one got stuck in a banana. And Harrison kicked one out."
Here I was lamenting this brief instant of pain I caused by pulling his tooth out, while his buddy apparently KICKED HIM IN THE MOUTH on the trampoline and I never even heard about it.
We sealed the tooth in a baggie.
"Mom," he said, "since I know the Tooth Fairy isn't real, can I have that dollar?"
I was taken aback. When had we reached this state of affairs? I had some memory of getting tired of lying about stuff to the kids. Or maybe we sacrificed the Tooth Fairy to save Santa?
"No way," I said. "You don't just get handed a dollar. You have to go through the ritual." This was the answer he seemed to expect.
So then I put the tooth in its baggie on the counter and forgot about it and so did he.