You can depend on the Tooth Fairy – eventually

Our Tooth Fairy has always been flaky. She was unreliable when she first started calling at our house, and she’s unreliable still.

Poor Big Man had to have a tooth extracted. He took the news better than his big brothers would have. He didn’t cry or have to be dragged kicking and screaming. He was stoic about the entire procedure.

At five years old, I’d have faced such a procedure as impending doom. When I was eight, it took six medical professionals to hold me down to take blood, and that didn’t leave a hole, so at five I would have fought gum and nail over my bad tooth.

Big Man’s courage amazed me. He faced the dentist with aplomb. He even asked to take the extracted tooth home.

He wanted to examine his tooth as soon as he got home. It was saved in a tiny treasure chest, and he revered it like a treasure. Seeing my child’s tooth, complete with roots, not at all resembling the nub that would eventually have fallen out on its own, made me feel guilty for the operation he had endured.

The name of this chest seems a little ironic for the holder of a tooth that couldn’t be saved.

Big Man showed no regrets. He was fascinated by his tooth. He turned it over in his fingers, pointing out interesting features to me. It was all very clinical.

Except it wasn’t, really.

Big Man gets attached to odd things for brief periods. He instantly became attached to his separated tooth. He carried the little chest around the house with him for days. He fretted over losing it. He even wanted to take it to his soccer game.

We talked about selling the tooth to the Tooth Fairy, but he wanted to keep it for a while. He wasn’t ready to give up such an interesting specimen.

Until he was, suddenly and without notice.

Four days after the extraction, when I woke him for school, he reached under his pillow and pulled out his treasure chest. “The Tooth Fairy didn’t give me money,” he announced with disappointment. He was more upset about this than having the tooth pulled in the first place. “I want my money!”

The attachment was over, but our Tooth Fairy didn’t get the memo. “You have to tell your parents when you put your tooth under your pillow,” I told him, “so the Tooth Fairy knows it’s okay to take it. That’s the rule.”

“No it’s not.”

“How do you know? Did you even go to the library and ask for the book of Tooth Fairy rules?”

“No. But that’s not a rule.”

“Let’s test it. Put it under your pillow tonight and the Tooth Fairy will know it’s okay to take it.”

This was far from satisfactory, but it was better than sleeping with a tooth he no longer cherished night after night. He waited another day for our unreliable fairy.

It was a special tooth from a brave boy, so the next night the Tooth Fairy made amends by leaving a little extra.

The Tooth Fairy doesn’t work weekends

The Tooth Fairy is due to make another visit. In fact, he’s overdue. A top-notch Tooth Fairy would have shown up sometime last night. Our Tooth Fairy is middling at best.

Lately, Big Brother has been shedding teeth like a hockey player with scurvy. Perhaps our Tooth Fairy has merely been overworked.

Our Tooth Fairy leaves $1, in the form of a golden Presidential dollar coin, under the pillow for each tooth. Our Tooth Fairy gets these coins from his day job, where he buys them from the big bag of dollar coins nobody knows what to do with. Dollar coins are a novelty in the United States, which makes them great for Tooth Fairies, but troublesome to institutions that are occasionally paid them but don’t have a clue how to bundle them for bank deposit.

Our Tooth Fairy is not completely without an eye to the future. He usually buys two coins at a time, but at the rate Big Brother spits out baby teeth, our Tooth Fairy often needs a day’s notice before he can accumulate the wherewithal to visit the pillow. For these same reasons, he doesn’t work on weekends.

We can afford only two teeth purchases at a time.

We can afford only two teeth purchases at a time.

For the first couple of lost teeth, the loose tooth phase was a big deal, no matter how long it lasted. Two weeks of drama, waiting for the final separation was not unheard of. Now, teeth fall with neither pomp nor circumstance. The only reason I knew there was a loose tooth situation this time was because Big Brother complained it was making it inconvenient to eat his corn on the cob at dinner.

Half an hour after going to bed, Big Brother came downstairs with a tooth in his hand. It was a fine tooth, worth every penny of a dollar, and it took all of 30 minutes of wiggling to extract. I told him to rinse out his mouth and go back to bed. Nobody told him to put the tooth under his pillow.

But he did anyway.

This morning he complained the Tooth Fairy had neglected him. We explained that the Tooth Fairy had already set out on her rounds with a strict itinerary by the time his tooth came out. His teeth must fall out before the Tooth Fairy leaves the office, which is, coincidentally, about the same time Daddy leaves work.

I bought two dollar coins today, which will net me two more baby teeth. I don’t have a use or a want for this commodity but nobody ever told me Tooth Fairying was a profitable business or rewarding hobby.

That’s the way with children. You spend money on stuff you’d rather not have. Teeth are pretty cheap compared to all the other crap. With two more suppliers coming up, I guess we’ll go on buying at this rate.

A smart Tooth Fairy would probably just go ahead and buy out the entire sack of dollar coins in one transaction, but I never said our Tooth Fairy was top-notch.