How I Became the Tooth Fairy Other Parents Weren’t Too Fond Of — But Kids Loved
By Rob Thomas
Photo © Nataliya Hora/123RF
Mar 19, 2018
Everybody knows that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are jerks. Forget the hype. Those guys distribute expensive gifts to spoiled kids with no thought for justice or equity. The tooth fairy, a small player in the heady world of fantastical gifters, is supposed to be different. How did I mess this one up so badly?
But before I get into my failings as a parent and proxy fairy, let me tell you how much I love the tooth fairy. For me, the simple exchange of money for teeth is a ritual that generates just enough excitement to mark a kid’s growth and progress without it being extravagant. That is a rare gift in our world of out-of-control consumerism.
When my son lost his first tooth — a little chomper, bottom row center — he asked me why the tooth fairy needed all those teeth.
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“I have no idea,” I told him. “Why do you think the tooth fairy needs them?”
“The tooth fairy is building a huge palace out of teeth,” he told me.
I love this image. I want to imagine the tooth fairy as a plucky worker constructing a palace one baby tooth at a time.
When I was a kid, the tooth fairy paid out 25 cents. But there were always rumours of kids who received a whole dollar.
I want to imagine the tooth fairy as a plucky worker constructing a palace one baby tooth at a time.
My kids tell me the current payout, among their friends, is between one and two dollars. The internet tells me rates can go as high as $5 to $20. The rates in our home have been unusual, in the past, and that gets into my failings as a parent and proxy fairy.
Let me explain: It all started when my oldest lost his first tooth. It happened just before bed. The tooth had been wiggly for some time and I had fallen into the habit of giving it a playful tug before he climbed under the covers at night. Neither one of us expected the tooth to pop free. The trouble is the tooth fairy didn’t happen to be carrying any spare change on that particular night. It is amazing what a burden it can seem to scrounge up a loonie in a low-cash-flow house when the kids have finally been put to bed and you were kind of counting on having some time for yourselves. My wife and I discussed it, briefly, and agreed to slip a dollar store action figure under his pillow instead.
This is when our troubles started. The kid was absolutely thrilled.
We didn’t realize the extent of our miscalculation until he lost his next tooth. This tooth was another little chomper in the middle, up in front. Once a kid has received a toy in exchange for a tooth it is nearly impossible to convince that kid that a loonie for a tooth would be a much better deal. It was shortly after this second tooth was lost and exchanged for a toy that another father confronted me in the schoolyard.
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“We hear that the tooth fairy brings toys in your household,” he announced.
“Yes,” I responded.
“That’s not how it’s supposed to work,” he continued.
I was embarrassed, of course, but mostly because I knew he was right. The tooth fairy always exchanges money for teeth, he explained. That’s the contract. The amount of money may be higher or lower, depending on how much the fairy happens to have on hand. It should be coins. It could be bills, but it should always be money.
I’m pleased to report the tooth fairy at our house is no longer a jerk.
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