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Just what does the tooth fairy do with the teeth?

I am blessed with (and tortured by) children who are profound thinkers. They never ask uncomplicated questions like why the sky is blue or endeavor to discuss the Big Bang Theory.

No, I'm hit with questions like "What's worser, daddy gassing or being in love?" That's not an easy one, because in reality it depends on when you ask me.

Or I'm confronted with the perplexing philosophical question of whether or not today is tomorrow. And if it is, then when can we expect it to be yesterday?

Sometimes I get informed on the linguistic background of the names of children's recreation sports teams. Obviously, the Kicks earned their title because they kick the ball hard (duh). The Dodgers come by their name honestly because, for those of you slow on the uptake, they can dodge the ball. A child in the know also informed me that the Cosmos received that name because they "cos mo' trouble." Why, then, are the Bulldogs the Bulldogs if they are really people, and not dogs at all?

To top it all off, my children have the worst timing ever. I suppose quiet moments afford them the opportunity to think over life's biggest mysteries, as well as the occasion to ask them out loud . . . LOUDLY. As an example, one Sunday in church, during a moment of silent meditation, my four year old contemplated escape routes of babies. In a voice he in fact thought was a whisper, he asked "How does a baby get out of its Mama's tummy?"

This indeed is one of life's greatest mysteries (especially if you are four), and everyone sitting within earshot leaned in a little closer, eagerly anticipating, on tenterhooks, my answer.

Clearly, my children love to see me squirm. Like the day I was in the drive-through at the bank with my window down. All the other banking customers with their windows down and the bank teller, who fortuitously had the intercom on, had the benefit of hearing me field the question, "Can a mama and a daddy ever make a baby without making a baby?" Why must children yell from the backseat? Don't they know I'm trying not to hear them over the radio?

I find comfort in knowing that they do it to my husband, too. One morning, as the noise level around the breakfast table skyrocketed, my husband calmly walked over to the radio and shut down the commercial announcer in mid-sentence. He then breathed a huge sigh of relief. Our two year old daughter queried as to why he wouldn't let her listen to the music, to which I responded that her daddy felt over stimulated. "By what" said our eight year old, "diagra?"

Yet, inopportune comments at inopportune times often endow me with an opening to teach values and to put life (usually, my own) into perspective. My children's questions and observations compel me to see the confusion of the world through their eyes.

How lovely to spend my spare time wondering if I'm invisible in camouflage pants or considering what's scarier, a T-rex or a tornado?

My children enrich my life as they press me into saying what's more "importanter," wearing shoes or wearing underwear? I would much rather focus on that intense and timely issue, than perusing my stock portfolio or planning my work day.

After all, what does the tooth fairy do with all those teeth? And who would win a fight, a centipede or a scorpion? And what is the difference between the White Sox and the Red Sox, besides their socks?

Web posted on Thursday, May 27, 2004

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