Special Snowflake #1 just lost her sixth tooth. From a parenting perspective, my lovely red headed wife and I don’t appear to still be in awe of such miracles. We tried to make the appropriate fuss, but with this tooth we were more curious with how it managed to stay in her mouth during the past week(s) when it didn’t actually seem to be connected to anything. Somehow it steadfastly refused to make its departure.
Falling out was inevitable. Staying in seemed to avoid everything we knew regarding gravity and physiology.
We even received a dreaded call from the school nurse: Snowflake #1 had been balancing precariously on her chair (she’s prone to do this more than anyone I’ve ever known) and (predictably?) wiped out. She was fine but had been spitting blood and had scratched up her nose. And she completely flattened her glasses.
Her tooth however remained in her mouth.
When the moment finally did arrive, I was impressed with how carefully Snowflake cleaned the tooth to get it ready for the Tooth Fairy, and I’ll (finally) be able to tell the dentist about the great care she takes while brushing. As long as the dentist doesn’t inquire where the teeth are at the time of their brushing—in her hand, rather than in her mouth—there’s a good chance we can all leave the appointment happy… and quite possibly without nitrous oxide.
I can’t help but recall the great anticipation regarding her first loose tooth. My wife created a tooth pillow that Snowflake could use (and still does) in anticipation of the Tooth Fairy’s arrival. We’ve explained that it was (somehow) the best chance to possibly see the Tooth Fairy in action. On this point, no clarification was requested, and none was given.
As Snowflake was headed to bed, she wondered if she could request coins rather than paper money. I feigned concern—would the Tooth Fairy get the memo in time? What if she’d already departed the South Pole or the Shire or wherever?
I was heading to the gym, and my wife and I knew I could swing by either the grocery or the Metro (the change machines give change in all coins… it’s always easy to hear exactly who had a 40 cent Metrocard shortage and no small bills to make up the difference). Acquiring dollar coins wouldn’t be anything more than a minor inconvenience.
As I was leaving the gym, I mistakenly asked the front desk staff whether they had any dollar coins. They seemed reluctant to believe me that such absurdities might exist even as I insisted such fascinating items of wonder were very real. I even explained why I specifically needed this something which was truly so uncommonly common.
And then a beautiful moment occurred: an elderly woman… an absolute stranger… walked up behind me and put a golden $1 coin in my hand. I thanked her while simultaneously reaching in to my wallet to retrieve a $1 bill and continuing to insist to the desk crew that there was no need to alert the Treasury Department.
This kind woman smiled at me while refusing to accept the dollar I owed her.
“It’s been more than 30 years since I was last the Tooth Fairy,” she explained. “I’d be thrilled if you’d give me this honor.”
There wasn’t any way to refute such a request, and instead I hugged her as I felt tears welling in my eyes. I came home and told my lovely red headed wife what had happened. I had just met the Tooth Fairy, I explained. It was a magical moment in more ways than just one.
But it was at that moment I was also making a tragic mistake—something that would later come back to haunt me: I didn’t check to ensure that Snowflake was asleep first.
And she wasn’t.
She heard everything. While keeping the dollar coin tucked away, I merely explained that the Tooth Fairy said she’d be seeing us later that very night. At the moment, I thought no harm had been done and on the parental lying scale, I even gave myself full marks.
But of course, this isn’t where this particular story ends.
There’s absolutely no doubt in our house (among those born in this century) that the Tooth Fairy is undoubtedly real. We were even headed to Sunday school early one (Sunday) morning when one of Snowflake’s friends broke the news that the Tooth Fairy was a lie. She spilled the beans on everything.
But for my daughter’s part, she wasn’t believing such absurdities.
Snowflake knew better. The Tooth Fairy always seems to leave exactly what she wants—she pointedly informed her friend—whether it’s coins or bills. And if that wasn’t enough, she’d once overhead her own father tell her mother about meeting the Tooth Fairy in person.
And it would be great if this story of the magic of childhood wonder ended here, but once again, it’s not the case. Nothing can be quite so simple when two half-red headed children (or half non-red headed children, depending on who you ask) are involved.
You see, the fact that I’ve actually seen the Tooth Fairy has made me an unexpected expert on the matter, and therefore I’m uniquely qualified to address an unending array of questions.
Whether I want to or not.
At any time of day.
And if I’m not consistent with an explanation I offered three weeks or two months ago, there are problems.
And still there’s more to this story… well not this story exactly, but the sequel… and just like many sequels, the follow ups are never quite as magical as the first.
The morning after Snowflake’s second tooth had fallen out, we were watching Saturday morning cartoons… more precisely, we were watching cartoons on Saturday morning since Saturday morning cartoons aren’t actually a thing any longer… when Snowflake looked at me and admitted she’d forgotten to check her tooth pillow.
She wasn’t the only one.