I’ve never believed in the tooth fairy – even when I was a newly immigrated 6-year-old losing her first tooth. I saw right through the hokey pokey stuff they tried to sell me on. I didn’t discriminate against the fairies; I was an equal opportunity doubter and didn’t believe in God, Santa or the Easter Bunny. Fast forward 35 years and my daughter lost her first tooth. My intention was not to engage this farce, but within seconds of her becoming toothless, my cynicism was trumped. This revolutionary event meant my daughter would now have a one-degree connection with the tooth fairy and I would not be the evil mother to crush this.
The tooth had been loose for a week and she played with it incessantly. Today at a party she refused the pizza, saying her tooth hurt. When we got home, she asked for a baby bell cheese, which comes dipped in red wax as a mini cheese wheel. Within a minute, she came running to me to say, “there’s something hard in my cheese.”
“Maybe it’s your tooth,” I said. She didn’t believe me and I asked her to give me “the hard thing.” She handed over her little baby tooth. What an easy way to lose the first tooth. No blood, no pulling, no new adult tooth pushing in behind it. It was a clean break and left a quintessential lower tooth gap, 3 weeks shy of her sixth birthday.
The experience shocked her. She had been building it up in her mind for years, the thought of losing a tooth. It had only been loose for a week and she had been imagining it in her mind, endlessly. Then with a bite of a cheese, it was out and somehow the experience of actually losing the tooth fell short of the climax she had built up in her mind. (Welcome to womanhood, kid.) She cried after she saw her gap-toothed reflection. “I don’t like the way I look.” Very quickly followed by, “But I don’t want the tooth fairy to take my tooth.”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” I assured her. “We’ll put it in a special box and when the tooth fairy sees it’s in a box, she’ll know it means you want to keep the tooth. If you want her to take it, you leave it loose under the pillow.” I embellished the existing fake story and this calmed her down. I took a box of our wedding matches, dumped out the wooden matches and created a comfy home for the tooth.
Without prompting, she immediately took to her desk to write a letter to the tooth fairy. Queue the “Awww.”
Dear Tooth Fairy,
I love you. Please send me a letter back.
PS: Are you a boy or a girl? Please write back on your letter – don’t just circle one.
PPS: I lost my FIRST tooth!
She carefully placed the note and the little box under her pillow.
“Now my tongue can feel my whole jaw. It’s like now my tongue has a cushion!”
My daughter was euphoric; it was like Tooth Fairy Eve.
“What do you think she’ll leave for me? I would love a coin or anything really. She knows I’m a good girl and a great listener at school and she has to bring something worthy of me. [SHE REALLY SAID THIS.] But I will certainly be appreciative of anything she would give me. As long as she just leaves my tooth. And writes back to my note. I made sure to ask her to use her own paper so she wouldn’t just circle yes or no in response to my question.”
My daughter is my lesson, my inspiration, my daily dose of honey-scented glitter. How could I absorb just one iota of the goodness she exudes from her pores? It’s not simply the innocence and kindness; it’s a heart which believes in wonder, in wishes, and in the beauty of the human soul. She understands that hovering above reality, in a world just outside, filled with fantasy and fairies, is a far more enjoyable ride than the pragmatic realistic (pessimistic?) one I’m on.