Do you ever feel like the stars just don’t align in your favour? Well, let me tell you, when it comes to our kids “losing teeth”, this is definitely the case. I absolutely love sleep and one of the top ranking events of my day is hitting the sack….early! It is not uncommon for me to be asleep by 10:00 and when the kids were younger 9:00 was the norm. After teaching almost 50 five year olds all day and then coming home to your own little ones, by the time the sun set, I was totally done! The point of this is that I in no way shape or form, do nights (except when granted the opportunity to engage in a great game of cards or Settlers). My husband on the other hand has worked the night-shift most of his adult life. It is rare for him to ever make it to bed before 2 or 3 in the morning, even on his nights off. So in my mind, it seems like a total injustice when one of our children should lose a tooth on a day when their dad is going to work. He clearly would make a better “tooth fairy” than I. He is already up most of the night and it would take nothing for him to sneak into the kids rooms and exchange their tooth for a bit of cash. Despite this, you can bet that a large percentage of the teeth fall out when my husband will not be home. It is like some kind of a sick joke, that I have to set my alarm to wake-up and do the deed.
My daughter is cut from the same cloth as her father. Despite being sent to bed and tucked in at a respectable bed time, she is her father’s daughter and unfortunately a night-hawk. She often complains she just can’t fall asleep and has way more stamina than I’ve ever had late in the evening, so for a long time now, I have fallen asleep well before her. In 2011, when she was 9, Eden had already been tucked in and I was just heading to bed. I was totally exhausted and figured she was coming down to say she couldn’t fall asleep, but this was not the case. She had continued to wiggle her loose tooth long after I sent her to bed and eventually removed it. Instead of coming down when her tooth fell out, she got up and made a note for the tooth fairy.
So, she came downstairs to not only tell me about her tooth, but also share her note. She was already starting to question the authenticity of the tooth fairy, so I knew this was a test. Had I not been so over tired, I might have handled it better, but the only thing I could hear was the voice inside of my head screaming “Why me? Why on my watch?” I told that to the best of my knowledge the tooth fairy did not take requests and that she had better get to bed or the tooth fairy would be done her rounds for the night and she’d get nothing (or something like that) and so off to bed she went.
I was so mad and should have just taken my cue from the first line of the note that said I could leave money if I wanted or even better, spilled the beans and revealed the truth, so I would never have to do this again. However, not being one to shy away from a challenge, I took my very tired body back to the computer and began to respond to my daughter’s note. I’m no artist, so the first thing I did was look for a sketch of a fairy under Google images. Pretty smart, I thought. I then wrote a little note and searched for a “fairyish” font that I downloaded for this very occasion. Finally, I imported the picture into the document with my note and printed it out on the “fast” setting of my printer so that the quality would be low. (I think of everything.) Once printed off, I took a black pen and went over the writing to make it look a bit more handwritten and not quite so perfect. I then took a pencil and added free hand sketch lines to the image to make it look much more realistic. By this time, I was just shy of a zombie, but was too determined to let my child down. I finished my little project and then went down to the basement to see what I could find in my gift box. I wasn’t sure what would be there, but I was so excited when I found a pack of markers. By this time, my daughter was sound asleep, so I snuck up and placed the markers, 2 dollars and the note at the top of her bed just beneath the edge of her pillow. I was nervous because not only is she a night-hawk, but also a light sleeper. I made it in and out without so much as a stir and left feeling very satisfied with myself. I finally got into my nice warm bed and was asleep within seconds.
Eden was so excited when she got up to find the note, drawings and goodies left by the tooth fairy, I couldn’t help but take pride in the fact I pulled it off. (Of course, when I look back now, it is so lame one has to laugh.)
Later that evening, Eden was on the computer, when I heard her call “Mom!” When you’re being called, there are all sorts of tones and implications associated with how one’s name is called. I could tell by the tone of her voice that something was up. I came to the library to see what she was working on and was immediately greeted with a question. “What is this?” she asked as she pointed to the little icon of a fairy drawing that still sat on the screen of our home page. Ugh! How could I have been so stupid. I went through all of that work to trick her and ended up leaving the original image on the computer. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to put the pieces together. She was pretty proud that she figured it out and in the end, I was too. The next time she lost a tooth all I said was, “I guess it’s too bad there is no such thing as a tooth fairy.” That was the end of that business. Shay continued to believe for a while, but now I can honestly say, we are passed that stage. Yay!
I do have to wonder what possesses me to act like such an idiot sometimes. Prior to this event, I can remember trying to sneak in to perform my “tooth fairy” duties and Eden sitting up to ask what I was doing and I, like a skilled improv comedian would tell her I was checking on something or just came to give her a kiss. My husband actually taught me the trick of doing the swap at “tuck time”. He would sometimes have the money in his closed fist and do the exchange during story and tucks. I was always worried about this strategy because when I was a kid it was my nature to check that the tooth was still there a dozen times before I actually fell asleep. Crazy!
My Tooth Fairy Tips:
If you have little ones and are just beginning this fiasco, here are some things to consider:
- Do not respond to requests – plain and simple the tooth fairy doesn’t take requests!
- A friend suggested hanging a little bag on the door knob on the outside of the bedroom door. This was so clever it made me mad….duh….why didn’t I think of that. If I was doing it all over again, I would definitely consider doing the “hang the bag on the door knob trick”.
- Remember there are 20 teeth in that little mouth. Do not start what you aren’t prepared to stick with, especially when you make it a consistent rate or expectation. If you do have a tradition, make sure to have a stash on hand. I was never this prepared and always seemed to be caught off guard.
- This tooth fairy (as in me) really doesn’t do nights well. If I had it to do over again, I might even look into the possibility of having a tooth fairy that worked the day shift and did pick-up and deliveries while the kids were at school or maybe even left money with a new toothbrush that was waiting in the bathroom for them in the morning. The possibilities are really endless. Let’s face it, I don’t think there’s a book on tooth fairy rules. You get to make them!
The reason I started to think about this was because one of our local news stations was talking about how much the average tooth fairy leaves across Canada. The stats were interesting and it made me think about how some of my students have shared what they got from the tooth fairy – everything from $20 to actual presents. I think I got a quarter when I was a kid and as parents, Tim and I didn’t really have a set rate. This was mostly because I rarely have actual cash on hand and would have to scour the house for money because it was pretty customary for the kids to lose teeth after their dad left for work. I don’t think a Visa or a debit card would work in this case. The other issue is, I really never thought about it until the first tooth was lost and by then, it was too late to have a game plan. It may seem really lame, but this is a long term commitment and if you have multiple kids it’s even more work. There really is something to be said for those that forgo the entire charade altogether. As much as I hated being the TF, I can say one thing…it created memories and there are stories to tell because we did engage in this crazy tradition.
I would love to know your tooth fairy traditions! Do yo leave money and how much? Do you have other creative ideas or family traditions that others might like to hear about. Remember what is considered “normal” for you, might be considered “genius” to someone else. Leave your ideas below!