A Lost Tooth, A Loud Cry: The Infectious Innocence of Childhood

Momoh Sekou Dudu

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On Sunday, July 13, 2014, my son Sekou, then only 5 years old, lost his first tooth. This was anticipated. The tooth had been really shaky for the better part of the last month and half. All the same, when it finally happened, it brought for Sekou, both agony and happiness. On that beautiful, sunny afternoon, Sekou, his younger sister Makessa, and their cousins Psahyo and Kalilu had been roughhousing on the backyard lawn as kids do when they suddenly find themselves outside, in good weather, and free from the burdens of all day school.

In the midst of their hyperactivity, something caught Sekou’s attention. He stood still, almost entrancingly, staring at the brilliant sunset that hung majestically over the rolling cornfields. His intense concentration was soon interrupted, however.

From nowhere, his cousin Kalilu ran head first, smack into him, instantly knocking out his loose tooth. Sekou, initially, tried to play tough; he remained stoic in spite of the obvious pain he felt. But then blood started to ooze out of his mouth. That did it. Without warning he let out a loud cry.

“Mommy!” he yelled.

“What happened, Sekou?” my wife, Mamasu asked.

“It’s Kalilu!”

“Never mind,” she said, not realizing the magnitude of what had really happened.

“He hit me in my mouth.”

“That’s why you guys need to stop running so much.”

“But Mommy he knocked my tooth out,” Sekou said through tears.

On hearing that, my wife and I both raced toward him. As we approached him, Sekou stood with his hand held tight over his mouth.

“Oh, I’m so sorry Sekou,” I consoled him as I inspected his bloody mouth.

“OK, let’s go clean you up,” I said.

I held his hand and led him toward the deck. Just before we reached the door, Mamasu asked:

“But where’s the tooth?”

“It fell right there,” Sekou answered, pointing down, toward the far end of the backyard, in the recently mowed grass.

By the time Sekou and I came back outside from cleaning out his bloody mouth, Mamasu and her search team of Makessa, Psahyo, and Kalilu had found the tooth.

“Did you find it, Mommy?” Sekou wanted to know.

“Yep!” Mamasu answered.

“Can I have it?”

“Here you go….your very first!” Mamasu said, as she handed Sekou the tooth.

The tooth firmly in his grasp, Sekou ran inside, to his room.

“I put it under my pillow!” he announced excitedly upon his return.

“I hope the tooth fairy leaves a lot of money for you tonight,” Kalilu said.

“Yeah, I can’t wait for tonight,” Sekou replied gleefully.

“Mommy,” Sekou asked, “how long now before it’s time to go to bed?”

“It’s only 4:00p.m., Sekou. You have at least four more hours until your bed time.”

“Can I go to bed early tonight, mommy?”

For the rest of the day, Sekou, his sister, and their cousins wouldn’t stop talking about the tooth fairy. Sekou let everyone know how set he was for a big payday from the tooth fairy. So, at 8:00p.m. that night, his usual bedtime, it was uncharacteristically easy to have Sekou hop into his bed. Whereas he’d usually haggle for a little more time outside, he was more than willing to hug Mommy and Daddy goodnight as he ran off to his room. Mamasu walked into his room after him.

“Is he safely tucked in?” I asked when she reemerged from the room.

“More than tucked in, he’s ‘pretend-sleeping’ already.”

Soon enough, Sekou was fast asleep as were his sister and their cousins.

“Hey Sweetie could you hand me a dollar bill there?” I asked of my wife.

“I will as soon as this movie ends.”

It turned out, we almost ruined everything. We almost forgot (shush, I mean the tooth fairy was almost late) to put Sekou’s reward under his pillow in exchange for ferrying his lost tooth away. Luckily, we remembered just in the nick of time!

At around 4:00 a.m., something awakened me. Thank God for whatever it was.

“Oh my God, no!” I said on realizing what had almost happened.

I ruffled hurriedly through my wallet looking for a dollar bill. I found, to my consternation, there was a problem. I had not a single dollar bill in my wallet. So, I took a five dollar bill instead. Cautiously, I tiptoed into Sekou’s room, lifted up his pillow carefully, took away his ‘lost tooth’ and placed the five dollar bill in its place.

The ‘tooth fairy’ had done more than expected!

Sekou awoke on Monday morning, July 14, 2014 earlier than usual. On discovering what was left under his pillow, he let out an ear-splitting yell.

“Daddy! Mommy!!”

Feigning surprise I asked, “What is it Sekou?”

“The tooth fairy! The tooth fairy!” was all he could manage due to his intense excitement.

“You got a dollar ehn?”

“No, Daddy. It is five dollars!”

“Wow, Sekou!” I said, “You are a special kid. The tooth fairy left you a whopping five dollars!”

After Sekou had showed off his $5 bonanza enough to his sister, his cousins, and other neighborhood kids, I corralled him later that day.

“Hey Sekou, give me that $5 so I can get you something from the store later.”

He was happy to oblige. The deal was done.

Soon, Makessa was asking when Kalilu would knock out her tooth too so the tooth fairy would leave her own five dollars.

What a blast childhood is! I can never stop marveling at the infectious innocence it bestows on children. Unencumbered childhood is a gift, a beautiful gift!

 

 

Momoh Sekou Dudu is the author of the memoir ‘Harrowing December: Recounting a Journey of Sorrows & Triumphs’ (2014), the collection of essays, ‘Musings of a Patriot’ (2014), and the book of poems ‘When the Mind Soars’ (2016). His maiden novel, ‘Forgotten Legacy’ is due out sometime in the summer of 2017.

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