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The Tooth Fairy Cometh

When I first became a parent, I really looked forward to all the magical and secret parental rituals that made my own childhood so special. I’m talking about stuffing stockings at Christmastime, hiding chocolate Easter eggs in potted plants and inside my kids’ shoes and baking wax-paper wrapped coins into birthday cakes. But one piece of childhood magic that I never looked forward to, though, was visitations from the Tooth Fairy. I vaguely remember the Tooth Fairy leaving me money when I was a kid, but the details surrounding her visits are murky and, unlike legends like Santa Claus, there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules about the Tooth Fairy or her back story. I feel pretty directionless when it comes to the Tooth Fairy and as any parents of inquisitive children will tell you, if you don’t have your story straight, cracks are bound to appear in the magic.

So when my kid lost her first tooth last week, I knew that I had to get it together. I’d been asking other parents about their Tooth Fairy practices for months, but they all seemed as clueless as I did. “Um, a dollar?” one friend feebly replied when I asked her what the going rate was. “He was staying with his MOTHER that weekend, so she gave him a twenty!” replied another friend, this one in the midst of a particularly ugly divorce. I knew my kid wasn’t going to get $20, but what happens when she finds out that her buddy hit the jackpot?

Other friends advised me to do things like put a few drops of food coloring in the glass of water on my daughter’s night table and tell her that the Tooth Fairy’s dress must have dipped into it, but that just seemed too messy. You’ve got to be stealthy when doing the Tooth Fairy’s work – stumble around and wake up a light sleeper and the jig is immediately up. I should also mention that baby teeth are really small. I made my daughter a cute little tooth pillow to stash the tooth in to avoid it getting lost under her pillow, though she only agreed to use it after some negotiations because it didn’t fit in with her understood version of the Tooth Fairy narrative.

And all of this doesn’t even cover the more metaphysical questions concerning what the Tooth Fairy does with the teeth and where she comes up with the cash to leave under the kids’ pillows. And what is a parent to do if there’s no coins on hand the night that the tooth falls out? Or, if the poor little thing accidentally swallows the tooth while eating? So please, if you’re willing to help a mother out, share your Tooth Fairy stories. If you’re a parent, let’s work together to get our stories straight. If you’re not, perhaps you remember what your own parents did when Tooth Fairy nights came around. Because my kid has a whole mouth full of teeth and I really don’t want to have a panic attack every time one starts to wiggle.

By Sissy Larue

30-something, mother-of-two, former rock 'n' roll reporter, currently into retro house-wifey things, bad TV and any movie that I can sneak out of the house to watch.

14 replies on “The Tooth Fairy Cometh”

I remember my first tooth fairy escapade quite clearly. I was supposed to be sleeping over at my great grandparents’ house that night but due to a dastardly cube of watermellon I swallowed my tooth and through such a fit that I had to go home. After a tearful car ride, my parents simply drew a circle on my stomach made out of sugar and sent me to bed (the toothfairy was so magical she could pass through anything that had a sugar circle on it). The 50 cents I got the next morning was worth it.

My childhood best friend’s parents had a great system–she got a silver dollar under her pillow, which was cool because, like the $2 bill, no one uses them, but they do exist (or did then…). She had a little velvet pouch that she kept them all in and I was insanely jealous when she would jangle it around.
This system obviously takes a bit of planning, though, and wouldn’t help if you’re not in the US. But it’s cheap!

I once swallowed a tooth while eating as a kid and my parents told me that the Tooth Fairy was kind of like Santa: she just knew when you lost a tooth, like Santa knows if you’re good or bad. I think I wrote the Tooth Fairy a note and left it under my pillow, and sure enough there was 50 cents when I woke up. (I started getting a dollar when I lost molars.)

I got a quarter for regular teeth and a dollar for molars. I didn’t lose my first tooth until after second grade, though, so it was mostly so I didn’t feel left out–I was past Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny by then, so it wasn’t really a thing.

I recently discovered that my mom kept all my siblings’ and my baby teeth. It was kind of weird.

That’s the other thing — what do I do with the teeth? It felt weird throwing it out so I kept it in a little box, but it’s not like I actually want them or anything. And now I have to keep them in a secret location until no one in the house believes in the tooth fairy anymore. Whoever made up this legend did not think it out very clearly.

I believed in the Tooth Fairy for a little while as a kid. Even when I didn’t anymore (I don’t remember how I found out she wasn’t real, but I wasn’t traumatized or terribly disappointed or anything), I still put my teeth in a bag under my pillow and one of my parents would leave a few quarters on my nightstand. Although I was also one of those strange children who wanted to keep all of her baby teeth (and did), so I made sure that the Tooth Fairy understood that she couldn’t keep them for good.

Haha! My parents let me keep mine, and (I feel kind of embarrassed but also a bit pleased admitting this) I still have them in a little box in this time capsule-like thing I have in my childhood bedroom. I put all sorts of things I thought were really important in it, and as far as I know my teeth are all still there.

We were at a Chili Cook-off on Sunday and this very topic came up. Only one friend has children of “tooth fairy” age, and she was saying the exact same things you have mentioned.

Apparently the going rate in Canada is a toonie ($2 coin), but she said that she knew some people who gave DS games. Given the amount of teeth that kidlings have, we were all in agreement that a $20ish game every time would be stupidly expensive and set the bar waaaay too high.

I started losing my teeth just after the toonie came out so they often showed up underneath my pillow! I lost a tooth just before a holiday (I can’t remember which one) and I got a Beanie Baby instead of a toonie that time. I also remember that the dentist I went to handed out little treasure chests to put under your pillow so baby teeth wouldn’t get lost. I don’t know if they still make those but asking next time you go to the dentist might be a good idea!

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