Jody and I are the parents that you hate. Your children might come home from school
one day and ask you why the tooth fairy doesn’t give them a treasure hunt like she or he does for Antonio and Crystel (our tooth fairy is a boy or girl, depending on the tooth).
Oh yes, the kids also get the dollar under the pillow. That comes with a letter. And depending on the circumstances, the tooth fairy might use the opportunity to gently remind them to be nice to their sibling or to thank them for a job well done. The fairy often goes on to explain what the tooth is going to be used for. It could be a doorbell (teeth clanging together make just the right sound), a decoration in a flower garden, or it may join other teeth and line the walkway up to the tiny fairy house. The tooth fairy doesn’t stop there with the toothless child. Before flying to the next house the fairy drops a box of candy – like Sour Patch or Mike and Ike’s – under the sibling’s pillow. I know … candy … right?
Crystel often has her teeth pulled out in groups of four by the dentist. The first time it happened, the tooth fairy felt so bad that at the end of Crystel’s treasure hunt, there was an American Girl Doll that looked like her. Well, not quite. The fairy brought home an Indian American Girl doll that the tooth fairy thought matched Crystel’s complexion but the tooth fairy helper said No way, and the fairy trudged back to the Mall of America and got Josephina, the Latin American girl.
Fortunately, getting teeth pulled is like scheduling a Cesarean. You know when it has to come out.
When the kids started asking me if there actually was a tooth fairy, I asked them whether they really wanted to know. By then, they had a relationship with the fairy. They might leave a letter for her or him under the pillow, asking questions and stating that they wanted to come to the fairy’s castle.
Antonio and Crystel hesitated. The stories that accompanied a lost tooth were so magical. Would the magic disappear?
After the age of awakening (at seven-years-old) when Crystel was in the dentist chair getting her next four teeth out, the dentist asked her what she thought the tooth fairy was going to bring her. “A hamster,” Crystel said. The dentist looked at me. I nodded. A hamster.
Yesterday, eating pasta, nine-year-old Antonio said he lost a tooth. There it was in his hand. I looked up at his frothy bloody mouth. My kids are not known for toying with their teeth. Teeth have fallen out while drinking water.
By now the tooth fairy has gotten old and tired and a bit lazy. I asked Antonio if he minded if the fairy just left him money. “I don’t care,” he said, “As long as it’s a twenty.”
Parents warned us that whatever the first tooth cost the tooth fairy, the ante would always have to be matched. Jody and I never worried about that. I sometimes feel as if I am experimenting with what love will do for a child. I know that giving presents doesn’t equate to love and you risk having spoiled children. So far, I feel as if we have escaped that. Antonio and Crystel are polite, kind, and giving.