Three Kid Circus : The Tooth Fairy Plays Favorites

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Tooth Fairy Plays Favorites

The news has been pouring in from all my mama-peers. All around us, 5 year olds are starting to lose teeth. My big girl still has all her baby chompers in place, but she is eager to join the 'window in the smile' group.

This developmental milestone has kicked up dust all over town. What is the exchange rate for baby teeth these days? There seems to be a sliding scale. From my girlfriend whose husband left a $20 under the pillow by mistake, to the girlfriend who leaves a special charm for her daughter's charm bracelet... it seems like we should have a standardized chart.

The silver dollar seems to be the benchmark standard. I can go with that. I get those from the postal vending machines, and since I've gone postal quite a bit in the last year, I have a stash of Sacagawea dollars waiting for the happy day. If I can remember where the stash is, hmm.

Of course, in my own tooth losing days, I was an eager little monkey. I think our exchange rate was something like a quarter, which was good money for a 6 year old in '78. Really, though, the allure of the tooth fairy had more to do with her fairy dust. My sister and I shared a bedroom, and when one of us would lose a tooth, we would hatch elaborate schemes to catch the Tooth Fairy and get us some fairy dust so we could fly. We set booby-traps involving webs of string and strips of scotch tape on the floor. We tried staying awake in shifts. On one occasion my sister slept with the plumber's helper in her hand, determined to whack the fairy over the head so we could loot her.

I give my parents enormous credit for their willingness to keep the magic alive for so long, in the face of so much adversity.

I've got a lot of memories about losing teeth. I lost one of my upper front teeth the week before our second grade portrait shoot. My mom had commented on how cute she thought it was when a kid was missing both front teeth. Well, I loooooove being cute. My second tooth wasn't even remotely loose, but I fussed with it so aggressively that I essentially ripped it from my gums the morning of the picture. My face in that photo is priceless. I was beaming, in my spanking new outfit, with minimum wage photographer combed hair. (Do you remember those black plastic combs? How they made every hairstyle worse?) In the middle of my vacant upper gums, you can still see a little bit of gum dangling in the void. Ewwwww! But so cute, no?

My 5 year old is full of questions. Will it hurt? How does the fairy know? (We send up a beacon, a la Batman) I guess I'm ready.

What I'm not prepared for are those giant chompers in tiny faces. Man, this is when they go though that "my teeth are too huge for my face" phase. Also, they get really goofy, too. Or at least, I did.

All I'm saying is: if YOUR Tooth Fairy kicks down a C-note, swear your kid to secrecy. My Fairy is not that generous.