We are entering the tooth fairy years with our first child, and so far it appears it will be a journey of learning to expect the unexpected. And isn’t that probably parenting’s biggest lesson?
Tooth No. 1: It’s wiggly for weeks. Lacy, 5 1/2, is a mixture of excitement and dread. When will it fall out? Will it hurt? Will it bleed? Will she look funny? And what IS the tooth fairy? How does she know to come?
I hit Amazon.com and am not overwhelmed by the choice of books explaining this phenom to children. Most seem to approach it as some mystical fairies “needing” children’s teeth to do various fantastical construction projects where ever it is fairies live. I am slighly grossed out by this prospect, for some reason. Castles built of teeth. So I settle on “Dear Tooth Fairy” by Alan Durant (Walker Books, $14.99).
It’s a cute story about a little girl who strings the tooth fairy along by not giving up her tooth until the fairy answers all of her questions. The book deals with this exchange by tucking a series of tiny notes back into little pockets inside the book. While, yes, this is adorable, it’s worth noting that eventually the notes end up in the wrong pockets, causing considerable literary confusion.
The tooth is on its last legs at her little brother’s end-of-the-school-year party. The three of us are on a potty break and I see it’s about to fall out. I brace myself and just pluck it out. She’s thrilled. We put it safely away and she shares the news with all at the party. Inspired by the book, I decide to concoct a note congratulating Lacy on the loss of her first tooth. Using swirly script on the computer and a heart logo, I’m happy with the note. She likes it too, although she’s slightly disappointed by the $5 bill she finds under her pillow the next morning, as she doesn’t quite yet grasp that three $1 dollar bills would be less money. I put the tooth into a small ring box in her “baby box,” a small box containing all the things I want to have forever reminding of me when she was tiny.
So what is the going rate these days anyway for a good tooth? I remember scrounging for various bits of change under my pillow, the dimes inevitably always falling onto the bedframe beneath. At least cold cash stays put. Thank God (or Jimmy Carter??) for inflation.
Tooth No. 2: I could tell by the wiggly-ness factor that this sucker was coming out SOON. But we were distracted by the double ear infection she was fighting and the 30-minute “discussion” that was necessary before every dose of her antibiotic. After FINALLY convincing her that the medicine was actually full of super heroes that would fight the bad guys making her sick, I got her to take the foul-smelling stuff. But before I had time to rejoice in that victory I realize her tooth is gone. And that she swallowed it. Uh oh. She’s thrilled yet almost in tears at the realization that her tooth is AWOL. I hope she won’t recall the plot of the book in which the fairy demands an actual tooth in exchange for any moolah. I tell her we’ll write the fairy a note explaining everything, and she appears satisfied with that.
At 3:30 a.m. with a 102 temp she’s up and looking for money. My husband wakes me and asks me if I have any. All I’ve got is a $20. He tries to rouse our father-in-law, who we care for part time in our home, to find his wallet, but he’s out like a light. I know I’m NOT giving her $20 for this tooth. Not when there are 18 or 19 left to go. Do I send my husband out for change? We are determined not to disappoint our little sick girl.
Finally he scrounges up five $1 bills.She will be thrilled at all the green. He puts it under her pillow and calls her into the room. Her feverish eyes light up and she quickly counts it — “I got $4, mama!”
We both smile. All is well.
— Kari Hulac