When I became a parent, one of the sweet roles I looked forward to fulfilling was that of “Tooth Fairy”. Despite that anticipation, Thomas and I didn’t really think through a plan for it at all. We knew to tell the kids to put their tooth under their pillow and we knew we’d swap it out for a quarter. (We chose a quarter because it was a reasonable amount of coinage we were likely to have available). What we didn’t think through were the obstacles such as:
- How do you sneak into their room and feel around under their pillow without waking them up? (on multiple occasions, we had to quickly make up an excuse as to why we were in their room at night. These ranged from “I’m dusting” to “I’m just fluffing your pillow.”)
- What’s a Tooth Fairy to do when the tooth gets shoved waaaaay under the pillow making it very difficult to reach even with tiny Fairy arms? Or worse, it falls on the floor and can’t be seen in the dark?
- The kids compared notes with other children and found out the Tooth Fairy was far more generous to their friends!
- The Tooth Fairy has memory lapses and forgets to come.
This last obstacle happened on several occasions. Just imagine four kids losing teeth willy nilly. Sometimes, the Tooth Fairy gets a little overwhelmed with her duties and forgets, ok?! What did we say then? Usually, that “The Tooth Fairy is very, very busy and must just be backlogged and that we were sure she’d come tonight, as long as you eat your vegetables, behave very well and go to bed early!” (We figured we should try to squeeze some extra mileage out of the situation.)
I know we’re not the only Tooth Fairies who sometimes shirk their duties. I have a friend who has made up excuses involving the weather, being sick, having wing problems and not flying on national holidays! Her kids will be telling their therapist what a very, very creative mother they had years from now, I’m sure.
Although we didn’t plan it this way in advance, I handle Santa duties while Courtney handles Easter Bunny. However, the Tooth Fairy is our equal opportunity mythological figure. Whoever remembered got to don the virtual fairy wings that night. Yes, we did forget sometimes. Yes, sometimes quarters weren’t available so change had to be made. The first molar got a dollar bill, I recall.
And then there’s the question of what to do with the “purchased” teeth. It just didn’t seem right to throw our babies’ precious lil’ pearly whites in the trash with the coffee grounds! In hindsight, maybe saving them in some cushy box, labeled with the date lost, and a photo taken that day, etc. Instead, many of them ended up in a zipper bag in one of Courtney’s dresser drawers. When one of the kids discovered them, it wasn’t pretty. Dismay and outrage: “Why do you have our teeth? The tooth fairy is supposed to take them!!!” Courtney’s quick answer “Don’t worry! I left her a note asking her to leave them for safekeeping – she still brought you money.” They thought it through pretty quickly, and then our cover was blown. Giving up the ghost on the Tooth Fairy was one in a series of bubble-popping over magical things to believe in. The kids easily accepted the end of the Easter Bunny fantasy – but losing Santa was painful.
Nowadays, Courtney and I are mostly relieved to let go of these tidbits of childhood magic… But we feel a loss, too; because it’s all gone, all too soon. At least until we’re grandparents (someday!) and can start the fun up again!