“Sansa, dinner is ready!” I called. “Come wash your hands!”

Thud thud thud thud thud. Sansa’s little six-year-old feet pounded the floor as she ran to the kitchen. I set her plastic Dora plate at her spot on the table and went to the sink to fill up her sippy cup.

SMACK!

I whirled around in time to see Sansa lying on the floor, shocked, before she started screaming. I rushed over and scooped her off the floor.

“Sansa, what happened darling?”

Sansa took a deep heaving breath.

“I!” She gasped in another breath, “RAN! IN! TO! THE! DOOOOOORRR!”

Blood began to trickle out of Sansa’s mouth and I noticed she was missing one of her front teeth. I glanced around the floor while I rocked her back and forth. There. The tooth was lying a foot away by the door frame. I picked it up and showed it to Sansa.

“Look darling, you lost your wiggly tooth!”

“NOOOOO!! NOT MY TOOTH!”

I carried Sansa to the sink and wet down a paper towel to clean the blood off her face. She had stopped wailing, and now she was pouting, bottom lip out and tears trickling down her cheeks.

“Mommy, I neeeed my tooth to live. I can’t smile without it, Mommy.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “You can smile darling. Remember grandpa smiles all the time and he doesn’t have ANY teeth.”

“But Daddy said I’ll look ugly without my tooth! He said I’d be almost as ugly as you!”

I tried to ignore her comment. She was always going on about what her father said. When we got a divorce two years ago, Jim told Sansa it was my fault. I believe his exact words were, “Your mother is an evil troll that stole away my little princess.” It was his drinking problem that really did it.

Sansa perked up suddenly and smiled. “Is the Tooth Fairy going to come and give me money?!”

I nodded solemnly.

“Yes. Lots and lots of money.” I finished washing up her face and handed Sansa her tooth, “Go put this under your pillow and the Tooth Fairy will come and get it while you sleep.” Sansa grabbed the tooth in her little fist and ran to her bedroom.

“No running!” I called.

Her footsteps slowed to a walk for a few steps and then she started running again.

“Daddy says I’m not supposed to do what you say!”

I sighed. If she wanted to run into another doorframe, so be it.

Sansa whined all through dinner. Apparently the loss of her tooth made everything impossible for her.

“Mommy I can’t eat spinach without my tooth.”

“Yes you can.”

“But it hurts!”

“You can only be big and strong like Popeye if you eat your spinach.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too. Now eat your spinach.”

“Daddy wouldn’t make me eat it. Daddy says spinach is seaweed.”

“Daddy is wrong.”

“How do you know?”

“Mommy knows everything.”

“How?”

“I went to Mommy school.”

When I finally managed to force-feed her some applesauce and cottage cheese I told her it was bath time. The immediate response, of course, was screaming.

“Daddy doesn’t make me take baths!”

“That’s because you only stay with Daddy one day a week.”

“No, it’s not. It’s because Daddy loves me more than you.”

Why does this always happen? I do everything I can to give Sansa a good life and she just says her father is better. I let her go to his house every Sunday for a few hours on the condition that he cleans up his act for her visit. She comes back with a newfound admiration of him every time.

“Why don’t you want to take a bath darling?”

“Because.”

“Because why?”

“Because!”

“That’s not a good enough reason.”

“Because I want to play!”

“You can play in the bath.”

“You always tell me to ‘Stop!’ when I play in the bath.”

“You can play if you don’t splash water all over me.”

“I have to splash.”

“Why?”

“I need to sink my boats.”

I gave up trying to reason with her. Maybe if I let her splash all the water out of the tub and ruin the floor she’ll finally like me. I filled up the tub and tossed all her toy boats in. Sansa scrambled into the tub unhappily and pouted. I washed her hair as quickly as possible and tried not to reprimand her when she splashed water on me. When I was finished washing her hair, I left the bathroom to get her a towel. I picked the duck towel out. It’s her favorite. I hesitated at the door when I heard Sansa talking to herself.

“Give back my princess evil troll!” she said in a strangely low voice.

I sat down on the floor and listened, my back against the door.

Sansa changed her voice into a higher falsetto.

“Save me, Daddy! Save me!”

Low voice: “Yes I’ll save you.”

High voice: “Yay! No more baths and no more evil trolls!”

The next day I dropped Sansa off at her father’s. When I got home, I cried.