My first grade class settled into morning meeting at the carpet. A few minutes later “Kim” piped up, “Mrs. Hogan! I lost my tooth!” Congratulations abounded and after a bit of hubbub, Kim followed the lost tooth protocol: get a drink of water, put the tooth in a baggy, tuck the baggy into backpack. (Yes, we have a sort of protocol—first graders lose a LOT of teeth!) Then she sat back down and we got back on track.
About 10 minutes later “Sally” called out, “Mrs. Hogan! I lost my tooth!” Congratulations once again abounded and after a bit more hubbub, Sally got up to get a drink of water, and put her tooth in a baggy. As I sent students off to read, I noticed a small commotion in the back of the room. Several students were crawling about on the floor. When I asked what was going on, Sally said, “I lost my tooth.”
“I know, Sally. Just put it in a baggy.”
“No,” Sally said, “I dropped my tooth and I can’t find it!”
“You mean you lost lost it?”
“Yes!” she said. “I dropped it when I was putting it in the baggy. I can’t find it.”
The rest of the class immediately swarmed over, eager to assist in the search. Putting the kibosh on that, I sent them off to read and quarantined the affected area so Sally and I could begin a more thorough search. A lengthy visual search of the carpeted area did not yield a tooth. “It bounced this way, I think,” said Sally. She pointed toward the adjacent classroom. I pulled open the door and peeked in. My colleague glanced up, curious at the interruption.
“Just looking for a rogue tooth,” I explained. Sadly, it wasn’t there.
It was now time for a physical search. With thoughts of bodily fluids in my mind ( Should I wear gloves? She’s in first grade! Her blood is safe!) I knelt on the floor and began tentatively sweeping my hands over the carpet. No tooth. I extended the search area, but still no luck. We even pulled out the file cabinet and emptied a nearby bin. No luck. No tooth. “I’m sorry, Sally, I just can’t find it. I can’t imagine where it went.”
“Ok,” she said, resignededly.
Fast forward 3 1/2 hours. I go to pick my class up from their Tech. Ed. specials class. As I arrive, the students call out, “Mrs. Hogan! ‘John’ lost his tooth!”
“Wow, John!” I said. “Another lost tooth! That’s three today!”
“Yes,” Mrs. B., the specials teacher said, “But unfortunately he lost lost it.”
I stared at her for a moment “You’re kidding me,” I finally said.
“No,” she replied, “It was right next to him, but now we can’t find it.” Then she added in a quiet aside to me, “I hope no one took it. It was right there on the table.”
Ewww. I thought, That is just gross. But, I conceded silently, definitely a possibility—a remote one, but a possibility, nonetheless.
John wasn’t thrilled to leave without his tooth, but Mrs. B. assured him that she’d continue to look for it and we headed back to class. Back at the classroom we gathered at the carpet for our read aloud. Halfway through the chapter, a student called out excitedly, “Hey! I just found a tooth!” He held a small item aloft for all to see. Hubbub ensued. Are you kidding me?
On the surface it would seem like this was a happy solution to Sally’s lost tooth situation. Unfortunately, the found tooth was right next to John and not near where Sally said she’d lost her tooth. My mind raced. It must be Sally’s tooth. Logically it should be Sally’s tooth. But it’s nowhere near where she said she lost it. Could John’s tooth have lodged onto his clothes somehow, traveled back from the computer room and fallen off now? Whose tooth is it? Stupidly, I asked, (Yes, I really did say this. I don’t know why.) “Sally, does it look like your tooth?” She took the tooth and turned it from side to side, looking at it carefully. “I think so,” she said uncertainly. Another helpful student raised his hand, waving it vigorously, calling out “I know how we can check!!! I know how we can check!!! We can…”
“No!” I interrupted preemptively and probably loudly, certain his strategy involved checking whose empty socket the tooth fit best. “No,” I repeated, then continued in a more moderate tone, “OK, Sally, I’m sure it’s your tooth. Put the tooth in a baggy to take home.”
(Oh my God! I hope that’s Sally’s tooth. What if I’m sending John’s tooth home with Sally? I am really not sure whose tooth that is….)
The rest of the day passed uneventfully. At least no one lost another tooth! At the end of the day, John’s mom was picking him up and as he left he said, wistfully,”I wish I had my tooth.” I just hope that Sally has her tooth, not yours, I thought! I walked my kids out to the bus and stopped in to the office to check my mail. As I left the office, John was walking down the hallway with his mom and Mrs. B.. He saw me and held up his hand triumphantly, fingers clenched tightly about a small object, “Mrs. Hogan! Mrs. Hogan! Mrs. B. found my tooth!” Thank goodness!