Tooth Fairy Follies

According to the Associated Press and a survey conducted by Visa, Inc., the average tooth secures $3.70 from the Tooth Fairy. Parents don’t want their kids to feel like their teeth are worth less on the market, as dictated by playground chatter, apparently. Visa offers a tooth fairy calculator, suggests you ask other parents what they’re giving, all on order to make sure toothless Jane or Jimmy feels okay the morning after a tooth loss. The article does share that one parent turns the tooth fairy gift into an incentive for college saving and good dental hygiene… But a lot of cash changes hands, nonetheless.

To all of this, I say: people are crazy. I spend a good share of my parenting time reminding our kids that it absolutely does not matter what other kids do or get or think or say with regard to “things.” What matters is how other kids treat you, and how you treat them. Comparing what you have? A poor use of time. Very poor.

Our daughter has shared what the tooth fairy has left her–a note, a coin, a small trinket–with her friends. (Nothing worth more than a dollar.) She has never expressed disappointment. She seems instead pleased that the Tooth Fairy treats her differently.

If you’re worried about “not leaving enough” as the Tooth Fairy’s proxy? Please stop it. We’re trying to celebrate a milestone here, not set our children up for a life of keeping up with the Joneses.

suspended disbelief

Yesterday at breakfast our daughter lost her fourth tooth. I took a picture, we high-fived, she cleaned her tooth and put it in her little tooth treasure box. Later, her little brother put the box under her pillow for her. She added a special note that she wrote to the Tooth Fairy, asking the Tooth Fairy to work with Santa to fulfill a special wish (she’s a planner, our daughter).

Last night my husband and I both went in to kiss the kids good night, they were nearly fully asleep. 

And then we turned in.

And this morning, at 6:30 am, both kids came running to our room, with our daughter exclaiming, 

“The Tooth Fairy didn’t come! My tooth and my note are still there!”

She wasn’t mad, or sad, just shocked. We too, were shocked.

My husband wondered if there were some sort of Tooth Fairy holiday that we didn’t know about. I wondered if the Tooth Fairy were delayed due to weather or some extremely high number of children who lost teeth. We continued to ask questions and pose scenarios as I nonchalantly went into my closet to get a sweater. 

I headed to the kitchen to start breakfast, and my husband kept talking. Later he walked past me, we exchanged a look. He looked at our daughter.

“Are you sure the Tooth Fairy didn’t come?”

“Yes, I’m sure, I looked everywhere, Dad!” 

“Let’s go double-check….”

They marched off to the kids’ room.

“What!? She came! She came just now!” 

We determined that our daughter, by waking up several times at night (she told us she did so, to see whether the fairy had come), and by coming into our room this morning before the sun came up (her brother pointed out, with authority, that the Tooth Fairy is nocturnal), that the Tooth Fairy simply didn’t have a chance to come while our girl was asleep. So she snuck in while we were all talking about her in Mom and Dad’s room.

I almost wish it were a Saturday, so that she wouldn’t have to go to school and risk telling her Tooth Fairy story within earshot of some more worldly second-grader. Though that’s happened before: she’s told me that other kids don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy and say it’s just parents doing all the tooth switching. I looked at her.

“Well, I believe in the Tooth Fairy. After all, what would I do with your teeth?”

She rolled her eyes. “I know! The Tooth Fairy is the one who wants them.”

Faith and trust are such beautiful, humbling things.