August 2006

Flight of the tooth fairy

By Suzanne Strazza

Last night the tooth fairy visited us. I caught her scrounging under the floor mats in my car and rummaging through the pockets of my husband’s dirty Carhardts.

She finally replaced my son’s tooth with two quarters, a parking token, three nickels and a fuzzy Altoid. She left a note that said, “I’m on my way out of town, I’ll be back in a few days.”

Our tooth fairy is fairly flighty (so to speak). She rarely has a supply of cash on hand. Sometimes, even if she does have cash, she forgets where we live or ends up putting the money under my pillow instead of the boys’. Often, if she can’t scrounge enough change, she’ll leave a gift certificate for ice cream from the P&D. She does feel a bit guilty about this since ice cream isn’t all that good for teeth.

On the occasion when her conscience completely flees in the face of the prospect of denying my children a visit, she has been known to stoop quite low.

One time she raided last year’s Halloween candy stash that had fallen behind her washing machine, thereby delivering a year-old ring pop to my gap-toothed son.

This one came with a note reminding him to brush well before bed. She has stooped even lower: Her absolute rock bottom was the time that she raided Everett’s piggy bank to get a dollar to put under his pillow. She did, eventually, pay him back. Our tooth fairy does not work holidays or Sundays, having decided to be on the same schedule as the local bank.

Other folks’ fairies have different policies. My boys have one friend who received $20 for a single tooth! His fairy obviously has an ATM card. Now, when my guys complained to me that their friend received that much for a tooth when all they got were a few lousy quarters, I had to have a sit down with them about finances and the dissolution of the tooth fairy’s resources.

I let them know that when I was young, she only brought me one quarter if I was lucky. There was no credit earned for misplacing the tooth after it fell out — no tooth, no money. There were also no bonus points earned for having one pulled out by the dentist.

I then explained that the tooth fairy had a hard time making a living since she continually had to give all of her money away and that she was even looking at going on welfare. Look out, kids! Next under the pillow? Food stamps!

I know that right now they feel cheated, but wait until they find out that I’ve been lying to them for all of these years.

We did recently have one conversation along those lines. Bowen, my younger child, asked if the tooth fairy was really me. “I know, you get up super early and take the tooth and put the money under our pillows, right?”

Everett saved me by exclaiming, “Nooooo. Mama doesn’t get up super early for anything!?”

Saved by my own slothfulness. My friend recently had a similar conversation with her children. This time the disproving of the mom-as-fairy theory rested on the dad. My friend’s insightful daughter put the kibosh on by claiming, “Daddy wouldn’t have married a fairy!?”

Ahhhh, the minds of babes.

So, in all likelihood, our tooth fairy will not be employed for much longer. The day will come when her services are no longer needed. Thanks to all of the candy and ice cream, my boys’ teeth have fairly rotted out of their heads.

Until her days are done, though, I try to remember to leave some change in the change jar, keep a stash of last year’s Mancos Days candy and have lots of colored paper on hand for writing IOU’s.

Suzanne Strazza lives on property outside Mancos.