My twelve-year-old son Ryan lost his last baby tooth a couple of days ago. I was out at the time and didn’t get home until after he was in bed, but he remembered to tell me the next morning. He had the tooth in a sandwich bag, which he dangled in front of my face before I’d even had my first cup of coffee. Ewww.
“So, what can I get for this I wonder?” he asked, cutting his eyes up at me for a reaction.
“Hmmm, I don’t know,” I responded. “It’s got a silver cap.”
“Those should be worth more,” he added quickly. “You know, silver and gold….”
Truth is, I was never a good tooth fairy. I never stayed awake long enough to safely slip into the kids’ rooms unnoticed. Without fail, the following morning I would always forget to collect the tooth and deposit the money while they were still sleeping. Poor little Ryan was no exception. I can’t even count the number of times I would remember while he was eating breakfast to rush upstairs, grab the tooth, and put a buck or two under his pillow.
“That’s funny,” he said after one such occasion. “When I woke up, nothing was here. I eat breakfast and the tooth fairy comes. How exactly does that work?”
“Even Ms. Tooth Fairy can run late you know,” I replied in all honesty. “Now hurry up and brush your teeth. You don’t want to miss the bus.”
The whole tooth fairy concept came to a traumatic crossroads when I was out of town on business and hubby called to tell me Ryan needed a button for a school project.
“Put him on the phone,” I said. “I’ll tell him exactly where to look.”
I directed Ryan right to the covered dish in my closet where I keep extra buttons. What I forgot at the time was that particular dish also contained several sets of baby teeth.
“MOM!” he practically screamed in my ear. “Why do you have all these teeth in here?”
I visualized him holding up the little bags to read the name identifying whose mouth it once belonged.
Another example of Tooth Fairy FAIL.
Realizing my blunder, I felt somehow relieved to think my tooth fairy days were finally over. This was obviously the time to come clean and tell Ryan the truth. Maybe I could clear up details about the Easter Bunny too. And Santa, of course. I took a deep breath and began…
“Well, Ms. Tooth Fairy has to carry a lot of teeth around and they get pretty heavy,” I offered. “Besides I like to save special momentos from your childhood, so I told her I’d like to keep your teeth. After she picks them up from you, she slips them under my pillow.”
Where did THAT come from, I asked myself in disbelief. It goes without saying that I’m not very good at revealing the truth behind popular childhood myths. One more year, I thought.
Ryan is a smart kid. He’s smart enough to know that if he plays along with Mom, he’ll get money under his pillow. He accepted my lame response and changed the subject.
Still, the tooth fairy adventure was down hill from there. After several Tooth Fairy no-shows, Ryan suggested the Doughnut Fairy instead. Essentially, whenever an unreliable fantasy gift-giving character falls down on the job, the Doughnut Fairy whispers in Ryan’s ear that hot doughnuts from the Krispy Kreme three miles down the road would be an appropriate substitute. I’ve made quite a few trips, needless to say.
I’m not sure what Ryan expects for his last baby tooth. He packaged it up nicely and turned it over to me for safekeeping. However, since the Easter Bunny got lost last Sunday on his way to Dog Hill, even Ryan knows two dozen doughnuts in one week is unacceptable. For the moment all is quiet, but I know that damned Doughnut Fairy is hovering nearby. I imagine that, until Ryan collects on his last baby tooth, it’s drawing interest, too. Lots of interest….