My Family’s Tooth Fairy is Out of Control


The other day a mom approached me at school pick-up and told me that she had a ‘bone to pick’ with me. I immediately wondered what I had done to upset this genuinely lovely mom and also, whether I could take her in a fight (verdict: unlikely). She announced that her middle son, who is in same class as my oldest, had lost a tooth.

And then I knew.

My son lost his first tooth while my family was on vacation this summer. As it happened suddenly (it had been loose for so long that I had forgotten that it was eventually going to fall out) I hadn’t put any thought into what would happen when the tooth finally broke free from my son’s seemingly giant mouth. Not being the type of person who is able to just roll with things or trust my own judgment, I found a fantastic app that had me plug in some personal information (SIN number, address, banking institutions and full name….just kidding. It actually just asked for my province, education level, marital status, household income and age) and it was able to tell me what people in my demographic were giving their children for teeth: five dollars and a small gift. This app even generated a letter from the tooth fairy, which my son believed and loved.

That night, after the kids were tucked away in their hotel beds, I went looking for a store to purchase the little gift component. I am not going to lie, the selection at the tiny all-night convenience store was suboptimal and after much soul searching (candy, gum, or chips?) I chose my son’s favourite treat, and came back to the hotel with a small pack of caramel Turtles. From the Tooth Fairy. So obviously the Tooth Fairy wrote a note explaining that she was leaving Turtles because of how sparkly and clean the tooth had been—because what better reward for excellent brushing than chewy caramel wrapped in sugary chocolate goodness? My son ate up the note and the Turtles. Little could describe the pride I felt for being able to manipulate my son so successfully (and for teaching him that the chewiest, junkiest candy could be part of a good dental hygiene regimen).

When tooth number two came out, I suggested that my son ask the Tooth Fairy for the Pokémon book that he wanted—after all, we did have her email address (and the book was available at the Shoppers Drug Mart three blocks from our house). So that’s what he did. And she delivered both the book and another note. My son was so excited. And so was I—in large part because I thought that he might finally stop talking about the Turtles to everyone who would listen.

What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that he might tell his classmates about what the Tooth Fairy had brought him and that they might ask the Tooth Fairy for the same Pokémon book. Right before bedtime. And this is why I was in trouble. So I explained myself. He is my first kid, I got excited. But more importantly, we don’t have Santa. Or the Easter Bunny.  And I never knew what I was missing until now.

As a Jewish kid, I learned at a very early age that there was no Santa Claus. My parents took pity on me after the second consecutive Christmas where I stayed up late to decorate house plants and woke up early, hoping that Santa had come because of how good I had been (at least compared to my less-good friend Anne-Marie who was always guaranteed a Santa visit). I also have no memory of ever having believed in the Tooth Fairy (I think because Anne-Marie told me she wasn’t real—why Santa ever visited Anne-Marie is beyond me).

My son on the other hand, does believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa (contrary to my excellent advice, my husband did tell him once that there was no Santa and within two hours, my son had told so many people that I forced my husband to issue a retraction so that my son could admit his ‘mistake’ to his friends). I love that my sceptical kid, who was once almost kicked out of a children’s magic show for heckling the magician because he deemed the tricks too obvious, can believe in something that is not concrete. Maybe because it reassures me that he is still a little kid and that little kids can believe in fantasy and magic. In fact, I am loving this so much that I am wondering if we should put out some milk and cookies for the Tooth Fairy the next time he loses a tooth and also, whether she might want to leave him a little Chanukkah present, just for being a good boy.


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