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.