Parenting

Lessons from the Tooth Fairy

As her second daughter's first tooth comes out, Tracy's learned a thing or two.

Avery brought her Tooth Fairy surprise to show Tracy — at 2:10 a.m.

I came home from work last night to a note on the table that read: LOOK MOMMY! There was an arrow pointing to a Ziploc bag that held a tiny tooth that, at the beginning of the day, was still in my four-year-old’s mouth.
 
My heart leapt. Then sank. I missed another one. My six-year-old, Anna, has lost eight teeth and I have, through some strange twist of fate, been absent for all but one of them. I’d come home to a note, or a gleeful smile showing off the newest gap. The one that came out while I was at home Anna pulled out herself while in the bathtub. She was a total pro by then.
 
The girls were already at hockey practice when I found the note, and then I went to bootcamp, so I tried to hurry home to catch Avery before she fell asleep. She was waiting up for me in bed, excited to share her news. “I was eating chicken pie and it was really wiggly,” she giggled. “And then I bit into an orange and the tooth got all cuddled up to the tooth beside it and then it fell forward. I showed Mr. J and he said, ‘Let me look at that’ and he just pulled it right out!” I asked her if it hurt. “Nope. And no blood.”
 
I wrote last week about this being so early for my daughter to be losing her teeth, but those in the know say it’s fine. A few days ago, Avery suddenly said she didn’t want the tooth to come out. “I like it!” she whined. But now she’s thrilled about the arrival of the Tooth Fairy.
 
When Anna lost her first tooth, Sean and I were both caught off-guard. What did the Tooth Fairy deliver nowadays? Could we slide it under her pillow without waking her up? Were we supposed to cook up some fantastical tale of what she did with all those teeth?
 
With a little trial and error — and help from you, of course — we learned a few things about Tooth Fairy visits.

  1. Quantity over quality: Maybe it’s because Anna lost teeth before she could fully grasp the value of different coins — and long before her peers, so she had no comparison — but we found a handful of change delighted her far more than a twoonie (which you told us was the most common amount to leave under a pillow).
  2. Dress it up: A reader suggested that sprinkling some glitter into the bag of change would add to the magic and make the amount matter less. This has definitely proven true here.
  3. Do it early: No parent wants to wake up to a child clutching a Ziploc bag — with a tooth still in it — and squealing that the Tooth Fairy never came. Oops. Certainly the Tooth Fairy can get busy with another child’s root canal or dental emergency, but you don’t want to have to come up with lame excuses more than once. Slip the loot under the pillow as soon as they fall asleep, instead of leaving it until you’re too sleepy to remember.
  4. Hide the teeth: If they find the teeth, it’s game over. We have ours up in a high drawer, but I’m still not sure what to do with them. It seems wrong to throw them away, but a little icky to keep them. What do you do?

There’s always that excellent question: What does the Tooth Fairy actually do with all the teeth? I asked Avery last night what she thought and she decided that the Tooth Fairy builds a castle to live in with all the teeth. “That’s a little creepy,” I said. “Not to me!” she giggled. “Where else could she go if it rained?” She also suggested that there are two Tooth Fairies and that they play hide and seek with the kids’ teeth in their tooth houses. Ummm… why not?
 
So my other baby is growing up. This week, the first tooth. Next week, registration for full-day Senior Kindergarten. Here we go.
 
What does the Tooth Fairy bring your kids? Has she ever forgotten to pick up a tooth?