By Dana Schwab (Lethbridge, AB)

My mom pulled neighbourhood kids' teeth in the summer. Summer was undoubtedly the season for loose teeth, as it was always sticky and cloying and gummy and boring. So, whenever a cuspid twirled from a final steel thread, or when an incisor pirouetted in place but did not fall, our screen door was open. Children would seek my mom out, fold into her lap, and creak their jaws open for her magic fingers. I frequently accused my mom of getting a cut from the tooth fairy.


I would be fidgeting on the cement step with an open book and my knees hugged to my chest, not reading but watching that space between the stoop and the side of the house for tiptoeing daddy long-legs, when some kid would barrel suddenly down the stairs with a jack o' lantern grin and their tissue-wrapped prize held high. So great was mom's fame that children would burst forth from my house that I didn't even recognize. Then I would serve up my best scowl, as Mom had only ever had to extract one of my baby teeth.


Some summer before, the on-the-step and very public affair of that single stubborn tooth was the genesis for the demand of mom's services. The other baby teeth I routinely swallowed, to my repeated chagrin. I know now that I was only jealous of those other grips on my mother's fingers, but I spent many sweltering afternoons willing my own rooted teeth to dance.

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