February 1, 2008


Tooth Fairy Tales

by Arlena de Bruin

Apparently I should be fired as the Tooth Fairy.

Hang up the iridescent wings. Put away the fairy dust. Let me introduce myself as a mother facing dishonorable discharge for jeopardizing a boy’s belief in innocence and magic. I forgot to be the Tooth Fairy.

It wasn’t that I intended to crash on the couch and crawl to bed without a thought for my ethereal obligations. I mean, really, would you choose to wake up to an eight-year-old boy by your bed, bottom lip protruding, sandwich-bagged tooth clutched pitifully in hand?

“Mommy, how come the tooth fairy forgot me?”

My heart stops. Never mind the countless exercises in building and fortifying our child’s self esteem. Never mind endless years of positive reinforcement, constructive feedback, and conscious role-modeling. How do I explain to our son that not only is Santa not real (which is not my fault, by the way…thank the neighbor boy!) but that the Tooth Fairy is also a hoax? How do I live with the guilt?

I shake my sleepy head and groan. Of the twins, Eden’s the more critical thinker. He can blast a hole through a story like a cannon through a window pane. One false detail and my hypothesis is shattered.

“Well…” I clear my throat. “I bet you the Tooth Fairy had so many children to visit last night that she ran out of time. I’m sure she’s feeling wretched this morning. With government cutbacks and a shrinking tooth economy, she’s obviously seriously overworked.”

The bottom lip protrudes farther. He’s not buying the political Tooth Fairy conundrum. Perhaps I should follow with a dissertation on the importance of forming a cohesive Tooth Fairy union.

“But why’d she forget me?”

“Don’t worry honey,” I say, my heart breaking. “I’m sure she’ll be here tomorrow. And lucky for you, that tooth is making you interest.”

“You mean tomorrow I’ll get even more money?” The bottom lip transforms into a smile.

“Ah, ya… that’s it. She probably skipped you because she knew you’d appreciate the extra cash.”

Eden disappears down the hall to inform his brother that he’ll be the richer and I sigh. Fortunately, I’ve been saved by my son’s obsession with increasing capital.

So when did being the Tooth Fairy become so complicated?

It’s not like we haven’t had fairy issues before. There was a time when Indi insisted we put his tooth in a cup of water so he could tell what color his fairy was. Indi went to bed praying his fairy was red. Considering the stain factor, I decided his fairy was yellow. Lucky for me I now have only yellow carpet to contend with.

Then there’s cross-talk between kids. I mean, Moms and Dads, can we not be consistent? What do you do when one child gets five dollars for her first tooth? Or as we experienced last week when we joined friends camping, what do you do when the smallest denomination of currency in the campground is a ten dollar bill? Every kid in Princess Campground now believes the Camping Fairy is ‘the bomb’ and my son spent the next three days with a crowbar in his mouth just to capitalize on a greater return for his baby tooth investment.

Not to mention those unanswered questions like, “If I was to ‘accidentally’ hit another boy in the mouth and steal his tooth and put it under my pillow, would the Tooth Fairy still give me money?”

It’s enough to make my head spin. And to think this is happening all over. According to the latest census, there are approximately three million children in Canada of tooth-losing age. With twenty primary teeth to lose, that’s 60-million visits from the Tooth Fairy. Multiply that by two dollars a tooth, and that’s $120-million in baby teeth expenditures!

Personally I think there should be a 1-800 crisis line just to support us poor Tooth Fairy impersonators. Not to mention a wake-up service to spare those of us wretchedly forgetful souls. In a time when childhood innocence is overshadowed by bikini-clad singing icons and violent video games, I’d like to stretch this one magical moment out. So in the name of consistency, and for those of you faced with a forgotten Tooth Fairy visit, I offer you this: Buckle down and buck up because Tooth Fairy interest pays a loonie per night.

Arlena de Bruin is a published humor columnist, freelance writer and novelist who has the ability to find laughter in even the most mundane of life experiences. She lives in BC, Canada with her husband, her seventeen-year-old stepdaughter and twin nine-year-old sons. (If you don’t think that’s a recipe for therapy, then you haven’t lived in a house with three boys and a teenager!) Arlena’s philosophy: life is comedy in motion… there’s never a disaster you can’t find humor in! Her column has appeared in newspapers, magazines and on the Web. She is presently looking for a publisher for her first novel, From Indigo to Eden. For more of Arlena’s anecdotes, please visit her columns, "On the Bright Side" at www.castanet.net and "Relationships" at www.ilovekelowna.com.