A toothsome conversation

Henry spends several minutes explaining the intricacies of Bonezai Skeleton Warrior, one of the latest Lego creations. Bonezai Skeleton Warrior sits atop a Lego chopper wielding his bone-handle battle-axe. “He’s got 2,400 Earth strengths,” Henry tells me. At seven years of age, Henry is a master Lego builder.

Henry recently lost four front teeth. Three new ones have grown in; the fourth is coming along nicely.

“What happened to your baby teeth?” I ask Henry.

“I put them under my pillow and the tooth fairy came in the night and took them and left me a quarter for each one.”

“Ah, very good. What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth she collects?”

Henry stares off into space for a moment. “She uses them to build a tooth castle,” he explains.

“What, exactly, is a tooth castle?”

Henry regards me as though I should know better. A tooth castle is self-evident, sort of like the truths enumerated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

“I saw the tooth fairy once,” Henry confides.

“You did? When?”

“I got up early one morning and put on my bathrobe and slippers and went outside to see the tree with the hole in it. You know, the sort of hole that a squirrel might use for its nest.”

“I know just the sort of hole you mean,” I tell him.

“Yes, well, I was looking at the hole when suddenly the tooth fairy flew by and disappeared into it.” Henry sweeps his hand through the air to emphasize the speed of the fairy’s flight.

“Really?”

Henry nods his head. “Yes, you see the hole leads down to a secret underground passageway to the tooth castle.”

“My goodness. How lucky you were to have seen her. What did she look like?”

Henry thinks a moment. “Well,” he says, “she had red hair streaked with pink and purple. And she was wearing an orange dress with yellow stars—and triangles too.”

“I suppose she was unmistakable.”

“You can always tell,” Henry informs me.

“Have you ever read One Morning in Maine?”

Henry shakes his head. “What’s it about?”

“It’s a story about a girl your age who loses her first tooth. She has to decide what to do about it. In the end she decides to make a wish on it.”

“And does her wish come true?”

I nod my head. “Yes, it does.”

Henry contemplates the idea of wishing on a lost tooth. “Next time I lose a tooth I’m going to wish for—”

“Ah, but you mustn’t tell anybody your wish, or else it won’t come true.”

“But how will they know?”

“I suppose you could tell them if it did come true,” I say.

“This portends a dilemma,” Henry’s grandfather tells me.

“It does; but this very same dilemma is addressed in the book.”

Henry’s grandfather writes down the title of the book and its author. “We’ll have to look for it in the library,” he says.

Henry seems to be content with this plan.

I push up from the table and rise to my feet. “I must be going now,” I explain.

“It was very nice to meet you,” Henry says. We shake hands. “My fingers are rather short,” he says, almost apologetically.

Henry holds his hand up against mine and we compare finger lengths.

“They seem to be growing well,” I observe.

Henry inspects his fingers. “They’re fine for building Legos,” he says.

“And wiggling loose teeth,” I tell him.

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