It happened late last night. My 9 year old daughter had been hinting and wiggling her tooth for days; pushing it back and forth and making queasy squishy sounds with her tongue. We knew it was going to fall out soon, and chances were, it was going to fall out on my watch again.
Sure enough, at around 9:30, she popped the little calcified stub of a tooth, wrapped around the stainless steel “princess crown” and held the bloody souvenir up with a wide mouthed, tooth gapped grin! She quickly wrapped her tooth up and
got to work on the real business at hand: the Tooth fairy ransom note.
It is no exaggeration that this child of mine has been obsessed by the Tooth fairy since before she had a full set of teeth in. Long before she could read or write her name, she would scrawl out long letters to the tooth fairy and carefully put them in an envelope, and with a finger full of drool, drag it across the glue to seal the letter, and shove it in the mail box with triumph.
Her letters were long listed requests: money, jewels, princess crown, and all magical wishes that obviously her clueless parents weren’t going to cover, so this was her last ditch effort for an appeal to this life of cruelty and a decent bedtime.
In the early years, it was sweet and innocent and most importantly; didn’t require putting up the family car for collateral. The very first tooth was a wonderful experience. I was really into the whole Tooth Fairy magical duties; having learned my lesson the hard way with the first child, who had a tooth left un-checked for 3 DAYS in a row. Yep, blew it with that one.
With the first tooth, I had scrawled out a note using a pin dipped in lemon juice so that the writing seemed invisible, and burned the edges to look “authentic” (I was out of Pixie dust, and the Pirate look seemed plausible) The next day as my inquisitive little toothless wonder woke up with a note and jewels under her pillow, we took the secret note and gently put it over the kitchen burner to reveal the true fairy message!
“Dear little one, this is one special tooth you have given me. The jewels you requested were a little much for my little wings to carry, so I had to go with plastic. Hope you don’t mind. Xoxo Tooth fairy”
That was then. It was before I discovered the horrors of “Elf on the shelf” and Kindergarten Graduation parties that put a second mortgage on the house of the deluded parents who set the bar so high in the early years; they were drowning in debt by their child’s 8th birthday.
When last night’s note came in asking for “jewels and $100 dollars”, the Tooth Fairy did a very un-fairylike thing and went on strike, leaving 3 crumpled dollars under the pillow and no note. It was after 10:30 when I finally retrieved the tooth and note. Where was I going to find jewels and that kind of cash at such a time of night? Knock over a Toys R Us?
Pacing back and forth, my mind raced to come up with a better cover story, which was already thinner than a bad patch job over a weak comb-over.
“We are already safely out of eye-tooth country and well into molarville. And that was barely a tooth, but a stainless steel crown! That tooth was already paid for!”
It was hard enough super gluing the wings on, but the seams in my fairy stockings were beginning to resemble a stretch of drunk driving along the coastal highway. I’ll be damned if I’m going to carry on this charade into her senior years. What if I break a hip trying to break into the old folks home second story window, just to leave a gift card to the “Pudding of the Month” club, and a pack of super-saver coupons for Depends on her night stand, in exchange for her upper set of dentures? No. The lying, the deception, the ruse was over. Time to come clean like Listerine.
My daughter woke up more than a bit disgruntled, with 3 lousy crumpled dollars under her pillow, rather than the wheelbarrow of cash and prizes she was anticipating. I felt guilty again. This was my last born, and the last time I was going to play Tooth Fairy. I was about to blow the sparkle dust off this story, and along with it; her belief in some of the last bastions of magical intervention left to a nine year old.
“Honey, I have something to tell you…”
And so, over the morning, I relayed the truth about the tooth fairy and showed her a couple of the teeth I remembered the hiding places for before the move. She cried a little bit about the loss of this belief, but then wanted to know the recipe for making a secret note, and I knew that the world did not end over this. She was stronger, much stronger than that. She also still has Santa and the Easter Bunny as back up.
** As an aside, remember the first born? The one who was jilted 3 nights in a row? He took the story VERY well. Too well in fact. For exactly 6 hours, he was riding sky high on the knowledge that his mom was THE Tooth Fairy, and that was why she was so haggard and dog tired in the morning. For 6 hours, I had temporary “super hero” status.