Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
I don’t have a lot of memories about losing my baby teeth. I remember one of my front teeth fell out after my brother shot it with a water gun because that was funny, and I remember biting down when a loose tooth was twisted in its socket, because that was disgusting. But nothing else comes to mind. I don’t think it could have been quite as important to me as it apparently is to my 6-year-old twins, who view losing teeth as a statement of maturity, and a means of income.
My son Nick became a kindergarten celebrity when he was the first one to lose a tooth during school hours. His teacher called me at home to share the news (yes she was the world’s best teacher), and then explained to me that his twin Allie wasn’t taking the news so well. When I came to pick them up, I had one kid racing at me with a gappy smile and his tooth in a little plastic treasure box necklace his teacher gave him. My other kid was racing at me as well, but for a big teary hug. I was happy for Nick, but sad for Allie. The older they get the more conflicting situations I have to deal with.
All Nick wanted to talk about was his tooth. Over and over again. And all my daughter wanted to do was talk about anything BUT her twin’s lost tooth. Here lies one of the hardest roads to travel with twins: how to be adequately happy and celebratory for the twin who “won” and adequately sad and understanding for the twin who “lost.” I eventually told Nick that I was really happy for him and we’d talk more about his tooth later, but that he had to understand that Allie was sad she hadn’t lost a tooth yet.
I’m not sure if Allie was more upset at the thought of a fairy visiting her brother and not her, or the fact that Nick was getting rewarded for his tooth with cold hard cash. When they started asking me exactly how much money Nick was going to get, I realized that I had no idea what the going rate for a tooth was. I used to get a dollar a tooth way back when, and my husband used to get only 20 pence in England. Five dollars seemed like a lot, but one dollar didn’t seem like enough. I texted my friends for some suggestions, and the answers varied from $1 to $20. Not wanting to hunt down dollar bills every time one of our kids lost a tooth, we decided that $5 was what our Tooth Fairy was going to give.
Allie had set to work drawing a beautiful picture of a fairy that she was going to put by her bed so maybe the fairy would visit her room too. I told her I was almost certain that she would. My husband helped Nick write a note to the Tooth Fairy on an envelope that we put his tooth in. (I’ve since seen adorable Tooth Fairy “pillows” you can buy, but since I’m shelling out five bucks a tooth, we’re sticking with envelopes.) The next morning, Allie was the first one awake, shaking Nick to check under his pillow. Finding a dollar under her fairy picture helped soften the blow of not getting a full fiver.
Having children who are suddenly losing all their teeth is strange, because just five years ago I was eagerly watching these teeth come in. I brushed them with my fingers, then washcloths and then little toothbrushes. I watched two of Allie’s teeth come in twice, because when she was two years old she knocked two teeth up into her gums on a coffee table. I took my twins to the dentist since they were three to make sure these little teeth had no cavities. And here were my twins wiggling and twisting them in hopes of pulling them out for a mere five dollars a pop.
I had no idea that this tooth losing business was going to be so sensitive for twins. Every time one of them loses a tooth, the other one is miserable. They have an ongoing tally (currently Allie: 8, Nick: 5). Last month when Allie lost two teeth in one weekend, I thought Nick was going to start hammering his out. I don’t remember caring if the Tooth Fairy left my brother a dollar or a nickel, but maybe the 11 months between us eliminated that. With only a minute separating my twins, it’s harder for them to understand that things will come to them at different times, that they won’t reach every milestone together. But with every tooth that’s lost and every $5 put into a piggy bank, I think it’s getting easier.