Creative tooth pulling


During those seven years we spent growing up back on Flamingo Street, my three brothers, The Sister and I came up with many ways to pull a tooth. But that was then and this is now.

Now, I am a grandfather (A.K.A. Big Papa). And as I stand in our living room, gazing at the illustrations drawn on the whiteboard, I must admit all but one of those plans from our childhood were amateurish.

The diagrams drawn in red, blue, black, and green markers outlined not one, but three plans in great detail. And simply put, they were pure genius and sprouted forth from the fertile mind of our very creative little 6-year-old, red-headed granddaughter we call Sweet Caroline.

For two weeks Little One, her older sister, had had a loose front tooth. Not really earth-shaking news for a 7-year-old, but no amount of wiggling by tongue or fingers, poking with forks or spoons, or even extra tooth brushing could loosen it further — much less cause it to fall out. So last Saturday morning, Sweet Caroline had heard just about enough.

Sitting up in bed, she looked over at her sister and exclaimed, “It needs to come out!” At least I think that’s what she said. Coming out of the bedroom dragging her favorite blue and brown bird blanket, she first stopped by the couch to give her Big Papa a good morning kiss, then walked over to the white board easel.

With a dry erase marker in each hand, she started to draw. It would be the first of her three loose tooth removal plans, and over the next hour, she would explain each one of them to me in horrifying detail.

The first plan: While standing by the whiteboard, Sweet Caroline pointed to each section of her drawing with a wood pointer, and said excitedly, “First you get the vacuum cleaner cord. Tie a large metal wrench to the end, wrap the cord around her tooth, and then plug the cord into the wall outlet.” She threw both arms up and shouted, “No more tooth!”

Nope, we never did that back on Flamingo Street.

The second plan: Twenty minutes later, Sweet Caroline found me in the kitchen fixing her breakfast. Pulling me by the arm over to the whiteboard, she enthusiastically explained her next drawing. “See this one is even better! Wait…”

She drew a smile on the stick figure face of her sister. “There. Now here’s what you do. Tie a long string around Kendall’s tooth, here. See? Tie the other end around the back of my bike. I’ll go REALLY FAST down the hill. You know I can ride my bike really fast. And her tooth will come out!”

Nope, we never did that back on Flamingo Street.

The third plan: Her last drawing took so much time I was able to get her sister up, finish fixing their breakfast, do their hair, and clean up the kitchen. When Sweet Caroline found me, I was headed toward my recliner.

She first pulled on my arm, and when that didn’t work, she and her older sister both got behind me and started pushing. Soon I was standing in front of the most detailed and alarming of the three tooth extraction plans.

A little out of breath, Caroline puffed, “This one’s better, Papa. We get a rope and tie it to the tooth. The other end we tie to … her!” She pointed to her teenage sister who walked into the room unaware she was about to be part of a grand scheme — a tooth-pulling scheme that would put her in grave danger.

Caroline showed her the plan drawn on the white board and started laughing, “Then you jump off the porch! No more tooth!”

Nope, never even thought about doing that back on Flamingo Street.

Four days have now passed since our Sweet Caroline laid out her three plans to extract her sister’s loose front tooth. The tooth did finally fall out, but it wasn’t the result of any of those very creative methods.

This morning, while on a short break from their studies at Big Papa’s Basement Academy, the two girls were crawling around playing cat and dog. Caroline “accidently” head butted her sister in the mouth. Accompanied by an ear-splitting scream, the loose tooth fell out onto the carpet.

Never knew such a little thing could cause so much pain. (When The Wife read this last sentence, she asked if I was writing about the little tooth or Sweet Caroline who knocked it out. You decide, Dear Reader.)

Crawling around while “accidently” head butting one of my brothers and causing a loose tooth to fall out? Now that is something we did do while growing up back on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]