Tag Archiv: tooth fairy

Fairy tales

The Captive Robin, by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1864. Public Domain

The Captive Robin, by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1864. Public Domain

I started a piece called, “Fairy tales I tell myself.” It was about failed work projects and the fact that the idea of the children pitching in is a fairy tale I tell myself in order to make it feel like a team effort. I wanted to discuss the mounting level of fantasy required to plan a list of jobs (as if there were other creatures intent on their completion).

So a wee bit of cynicism, and “fairy tales” was not supposed to be a compliment. At which point, God laughed and hijacked my train.


Girl one lost another tooth. (A relief for the scales of justice as her sister’s teeth have been raining down like manna from heaven.) I thought a tooth fairy conversation was not far off, but I didn’t see it going the way it did.

I don’t know whether to believe in the tooth fairy, she said. I pretty much know there isn’t one. That’s what my friends all say. . . but I’m . . .I’m not completely sure.

The man in the red suit (who we don’t campaign against, but who’s never really caught on as a tradition for our family) came to my rescue.

Kids want to believe in Santa Claus, I said, because they want to believe that there’s magic in the world. That love does things so amazing we can’t explain it. A kid might find out that Santa isn’t real and worry that miracles aren’t true either. But they are. Someone might have made up the idea of Santa Claus but love really does do things so amazing we can’t explain it. So amazing that it’s magical like flying reindeer.

She didn’t say anything, so I kept brushing her hair.

What would be better? I said. To believe the tooth fairy isn’t real and you don’t feel dumb with your friends or to believe she is real and you don’t have to feel sad that part of what you imagined is pretend?

Girl one took these things and pondered them in her heart. I brushed hair that no longer needed brushing.

Your sister puts her tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy. Your brother doesn’t want to so he brings me all his lost teeth and I hand him some money. It’s okay both ways and the money’s the same either way. Which way do you want it?

I want to believe, she said.

I didn’t know how much I’d wanted her to say that until she said it. She danced downstairs the next morning waving the money that I’d put under her pillow myself. I saw her eyes and found it impossible not to imagine a tooth fairy with wings. Look what I got! she said. Girl two and I gasped with her.

Girl one wasn’t asking about the existence of the tooth fairy. She was asking if it was okay to believe in fairy tales. If it was okay to find in make-believe, things so true it made your heart hurt.

C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is that for me. I don’t expect to walk through a wardrobe in my daily life and find a different world (although I wouldn’t rule it out entirely). Rather, I expect that we may awake one day to the realization that where we are is Narnia. In the wordless places we see in part but are afraid to say, so we make poetry, and art, and music for each other to admit to what we know. That the trees have always talked, we simply haven’t heard them. That Aslan is real and on the move and without understanding why, that is precisely what we have been hoping and whispering so earnestly to each other.

We tell fairy tales to give back to our children what they give to us. That thing we so desperately need. Permission to believe.

Confessions of a B level Tooth Fairy

I'm sure this picture reminds everyone of me.

Rare picture of me gearing up for TF duty.

Girl two’s gap teeth have me reflecting on tooth magic. My fairydom spans four mouths. Despite significant experience, I am rated B level (possibly C) due to memory and attitude. My work is sporadic but not infrequent.

I transitioned to congratulations only for Boy one a few years ago. The rest remain on the payroll.

At a young age, Boy two announced rather cheerily that the emperor had no clothes, so his lost teeth go something like this:

“Hey. Mom. Lost another tooth. You want to give me money this time or not?”

He uses his tooth funds for charity so I still pay up.

Girl one, thanks to her brothers, has been informed repeatedly of my dual purpose mother/fairy role, but continues to hold out for a real fairy who is not me. She knows because of Mexico.

One sad day Girl one woke up to nothing under her pillow except the tooth she put there the night before. This day happened more than once. Or twice. This third day she had looked very carefully. There was no chance of “finding,” the money while I helped her look for it. She was quite sad; the tooth fairy had forgotten her.

We walked down to breakfast quietly. I hugged her and said there must be something we hadn’t figured out yet. I’m not a big Santa Claus fan. I don’t like telling kids things that aren’t true. I don’t know why this doesn’t apply to the tooth fairy but it doesn’t. While she was eating her cereal, I disappeared upstairs and then returned a few minutes later.

If a tooth fairy was ever late, I wondered out loud, do you think they would leave something in the day or wait until the next night?

Girl one decided to check then yelled for me to come. A letter was under her pillow. The tooth fairy had been held up. Something she couldn’t help but she was terribly sorry and it would hopefully never happen again. Hopefully, because apologizing was expensive and the tooth fairy wanted to return to the usual rate as soon as possible. Included was Canadian money at triple the usual rate and a coin from Mexico where she had been stuck.

Mexico explains the memory rating. On attitude, I am a tooth fairy who does not particularly like teeth. There are one or two in my drawer mixed in with paper clips and ear rings. I save them so no one can say I didn’t love my children, but I have no idea which child they actually belong to. I encourage the children to leave notes for the tooth fairy requesting that she leave the teeth after she sees them. Then they can lose them to school or lose them at home. Here I can attest from experience, teeth vacuum rather nicely.