Living with small children means pretending you know the answer to everything and spending most of your time punting ...
"I have good news and bad news," my seven-year-old announced as she walked down the hill from the bus stop. "What do want to hear first?" she asked with her hands on the hips of her glitter-infused-hip-hugger-bell-bottom jeans.
All I could think about was how retro-cool she looked in the jeans her grandmother had brought her. When I was seven, the same woman – my mother, her grandmother – bought me Rough Rider Jeans from Sears. Believe me – not cool, not cool at all.
Before I could answer she announced her decision. "Okay Mommy, well the good and bad news is kind of connected, so I'll tell you the good news first because that will make the most sense. But you can't look at me or you'll guess it and ruin the surprise!" she said pulling her pink poncho over her long brown hair and dropping her leopard-skin backpack to the floor.
I've practiced looking down with my girls. Sometimes, I'm not allowed to look at them when they get undressed. I'm not allowed to look at them when they are embarrassed, and I'm definitely not allowed to look at them when they want to suprise me. So I stared down at my chipped pedicure and wondered silently when I might slip away to the spa.
"Okay, so I lost my tooth on the playground today, for real, another one Mommy," she said, barely catching her breath. "See," she said cupping my chin with one hand and lifting up my face so I could view her gap-toothed smile.
"That's the good news. But then I lost the tooth, I mean really lost it. The teacher and I looked everywhere. We couldn't find it. How am I going to get my money from the Tooth Fairy without my tooth?"
Her voice was panicked and high-pitched. Her big brown eyes had become big and fearful. She grabbed both of my hands and held them tightly waiting for the profound answer that was sure to come.
My brain darted frantically through my limited parenting knowledge. This is my oldest daughter, so the whole Tooth Fairy thing is new, about four-teeth new to be exact. I had pictured this particular scenario, but never experienced it before. I glanced over at my computer and the answer suddenly came to me.
"Sweetie, no big deal. I'll just e-mail the Tooth Fairy and explain what happened. She'll still bring your dollar without the tooth as long as she knows you lost it," I said looking at her hoping that she wouldn't see my nose growing.
"Great Mommy! That will work. It's kind of like when you e-mailed Santa when we were bad and told him not to bring any gifts, but then you sent him another e-mail when we were being good to say you changed your mind," she said gleefully as my nose grew another inch right in front of both of us.
"Exactly sweetie, it's exactly like that," I said. "Now let's grab the camera and take a picture of that smile before those teeth grow back in."
"What do you mean? I like the way I look without teeth. I don't want them to grow back in!" she said incredulously, pulling her hands away from mine.
For this one I got nothing, nothing at all ...