Six years, two months, and thirteen days ago, I should have been fired. From the Tooth Fairy Corporation. In a nutshell, the Teeth business should have done their homework and checked my references before plunging me into the field. Or mouth. Of it all.
My rapid decline began one winter morning when the sun rose after the rooster. For the record, we don’t live on a farm. At the time, my girls’ alarm clock woke them up with a goofy voice yelling, “Get up! Time to get up! Get out of bed already!” and this particular voice sounded roosterish with his trill on every vowel. You had to hear it to believe it.
Anyway, this particular morning marked the first dawn of our first lost tooth. My firstborn had carefully tucked her tiny little white tooth under her pillow the night before. Mom of the year forgot. When tear-filled Bubbles knocked on my bedroom door, I knew before she told me. I forgot the money.…
Quickly rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I assured her that the Tooth Fairy was on vacation and would surely return the next day with an extra special quarter just for her.
Day two proved just as disastrous. This time, hugging the pillow, sobbing over the Tooth Fairy’s inability to find our house, Hannah reminded me that I forgot. Again.
This time I lied. I know. You’re not supposed to lie to your kids. I was desperate.
“Maybe the quarter slipped out from under your pillow. Onto the floor,” I assured as I wiped the cheeks of my downcast first born. “Let’s go search the bed one more time. You go on ahead of me and I’ll help you look. As soon as I…find my slippers.”
Hannah runs back, dropping her pillow on my bedroom floor. Perfect. I slip a quarter into the pillow case and carry it back to the room. “Look! I found it!”
Hannah smiles and holds the quarter to the light to make sure it’s real. Not really. But she does hold it to her heart as if it were the key to life. Sigh. Disaster averted. Sort of.
Subsequent years and plenty of lost teeth later, my aversion to the Dental Business grew with every failure. It didn’t take long for my kids to realize that I [Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!] am the Tooth Fairy. A terrible one. But our family’s TF, never the less.
I think after so many molar mishaps, I would be all the wiser and just hand my girls cash the moment they run to me with a bloody tooth between two fingers. But no. I will not give up.
In fact, yesterday, my third daughter loses two, not one, but two teeth. I work on my novel till about midnight and while brushing my teeth, I remember! I run to my bedroom to see if hubby has any bills in his wallet, toothpaste suds still in my mouth. He does! One last single dollar bill. Perfect. After identifying the correct face in the dark, I gently tuck the lost tooth earnings under Lydia’s pillow. And go to bed with a smile on my face. Yes. I rinse my mouth out before lying down.
When the morning arrives, I hear the hustle and bustle between the bathroom and the kitchen. Everyone’s fighting the clock to finish their tasks and catch their buses.
“La-La!” I stop my third princess in the hallway. “Did you find anything special…under your pillow?”
“Oh. I didn’t check.” She races to her bunk and lifts her pillow.
“What?!? I…I mean, the Tooth Fairy surely came last night.” I am now turning the bed upside down, inside out, and shaking out the sheets and blankets. Where the heck did it go?
“Mommy, it’s okay.”
“NOOO! [Breathe.] I mean, ‘No.’ It’s not okay. I know the Tooth Fairy came. She made a ton of noise last night. So I’m 100% positive she came and left you something. She was so loud, she needs a pointer or two from Santa. It’s here somewhere. And I. Am. Going. To. Find. It!”
I don’t find it.
Lydia goes to school. Without her dollar. Wahhh.
Later that morning, I decide to look again. How can this happen to me? Mattresses don’t have mouths. It has to be here somewhere. I take a broom and sweep under the bunks. I move the bed further away from the wall. I lift the mattress. Still nothing.
Then, I take the pillow and remove it from its case. Ta-Da! The folded up single bill falls to the floor! Can’t wait to show La-la when she comes off her bus after school.
Regardless. I cannot handle the pressure any longer.
Dad. Yes. Father of our children. I’m talking to you. If you are reading this, the choice is yours. Either you take the Tooth Fairy wand away from me, or I am doing things my way. The next time one of the girls loses a tooth, I plan to hand over the green. On the spot. Pronto.
Tooth Fairy. Shmooth Fairy. I can see it now. Pay back is around the corner. When I get into my nineties, and dentures are a’callin, my kids will retaliate by slipping rocks under my pillow—each time I lose a tooth. I need to resign now. While I still have my smile.