Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Ten Thousand Things


Charles Wright has a book of poetry I admire entitled, The World of The Ten Thousand Things. Currently, it feels like The Month of Ten Thousand Things and they are all staring at me from my to-do list. It seems the universe should be generous at such times: that on a Wednesday evening with less than a month left to disassemble our lives in Houston while still running our business at full capacity, teachers would lighten up on homework assignments demanding parental participation, at least the ones that require building mobiles with found metal objects, which first need to be found, violin practice would be cancelled rather than ramped up for the end of year recital, the Girl Scouts could postpone earning another patch. Instead of inventorying our goods for the movers, I find myself scanning poetry books as I prepare a presentation on poetry for my second grader’s class tomorrow morning. I’m negotiating with Samantha to substitute Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Annabel Lee for The Raven, in spite of the fact that the elementary school is named for him and their mascot is a raven. It’s all about time. The Raven way longer.

And then Hayley comes in asking me to pull her tooth. I’ve put it off the last night or two, trying to get the girls in bed on time so I can attack my mounting tasks. The tooth is hanging sideways. I relent and tell her to get a paper towel. It comes off on the first tug. We’re doing good: only a little past bedtime. I tell Hayley to wrap the tooth in a tissue and casually inquire, “So how much did the Tooth Fairy leave you last time?” She’s given up her idea of saving all her teeth for one big pay off after our neighbor suggested the tooth fairy might only pay per trip, not per tooth. I’ve almost gotten her into bed when she reminds me she has to write her questions for the Tooth Fairy. In our house, the Tooth Fairy doesn’t get off light. She must respond to a series of questions worthy of Barbara Walters: her name, how old she is, what color her dress is, how many teeth she’s collected, what she keeps them in, what her favorite color is, etc. I start bargaining on how many questions she can ask her this time. I’ll write them down. There is still so much to do. I promise to leave the notebook and a pen by her bed before I go to sleep, well before the Tooth Fairy would be showing up. Her tongue plays with the newly excavated gum. What if my tissue falls out of my pillow? Will the Tooth Fairy know where to look? She’s almost as giddy as the night before Christmas. She’s six years old and she’s lost her front tooth. One milestone in a life of finite milestones. And it eventually occurs to the too busy Tooth Fairy that there are not many things as deserving of her time and attention as this.

4 comments:

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

I have a book about he tooth fairy that I will bring in July. Glad you took the time to stop and sift the gums. it's a good reminder. I love the picture. Knew it was hayley from the chin!

Allison said...

How does one "sift the gums"?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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