I proudly confess that my children still believe in the Tooth Fairy—at least I think they do. Of course the eldest two, ages 9 and 7 could be humoring me, as their classmates have told them otherwise, but each time they lose a tooth, their inquiries about the Tooth Fairy’s whereabouts seem sincere.
I believe it is the perfect manifestation of children’s innate sense of goodness when they are still innocent and imaginative enough to believe in the Tooth Fairy, and all it represents. It is an enchanting and adorable few years during their childhood when their imaginations soar to incredible heights. As parents, we should exploit their sense of wonder; that is, until the Tooth Fairy forgets.
It happened the other night. Mommy passed out cold: face-down, like a drunken soldier atop an unopened bed, merely an hour after the kids’ had finally run of out gas. The following morning, my seven year-old daughter paraded into my room, baby tooth clenched in her fist, a frown plastered across her angelic face, and demanded an explanation. Why had she been forgotten? Did she do something wrong? Barely able to function, brain still in a vegetative state, eyes welded shut, in a barely audible whisper, I muttered out a theory that miraculously, she bought into.
“It doesn’t happen often, but I saw you were sleeping with your head in the center of the pillow,” I concocted, “with the tooth-in-a-baggy crushed underneath. The Tooth Fairy would never risk waking a child so probably it couldn’t get to the tooth. Tonight, try putting the baggy at the edge of the pillow where it’ll be within reach.”
I waited patiently --carefully studying her face as she processed the information.
Her grimace slowly faded as she considered my explanation. I could almost see her neurons firing as she attempted to make sense of it all. “Ok, Mommy. Tonight I’ll just sleep with my head off the pillow so it can find my tooth right away! That way there will be no confusion.”
Whew, it worked.
Note to self: Pay out a bonus dollar for the late fee.
That night before crawling into bed, my daughter, once again, inflated with hope and excitement, wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy. It stated that she was very disappointed that it had “forgotten” her, (guess she still felt slighted,) and to please indicate via a check, (she drew a box for “yes” and another for “no,”) whether or not she’d be coming for the tooth. “Oh, and please return my pencil; it is my favorite.” Carefully, she slipped the note, tooth and favorite pencil into a ziploc bag and sealed it shut. All bases were now covered.
This was her first experience asserting her right to receive good customer service.
I snagged that note the minute she fell asleep. It will be safeguarded in her memory box and, the opening frame of her future wedding video. I will tell her children about it. I will frame it, make copies of it for her grandparents to enjoy and copy the image onto a coffee mug, a blanket and a t-shirt.
At that moment, I realized that I needed to keep this thing going as long as possible—she has a lifetime to find out that the world is not full of fairies, wizards, genies and magic. Right now her parallel fantasy world peacefully coexists with reality. And I love that.
For now, my job is to make sure that the Tooth Fairy never forgets again.