Parenting experts want to lecture you on breastfeeding, sleep training, discipline, and all sorts of child-rearing topics. Their unending spew of “helpful” advice can drown you if you’re not careful. Unfortunately, they have left several key parenting topics out of their books of lies manuals, perhaps because the topics are too difficult to tackle. Perhaps the folks are not the experts they claim to be. Perhaps they are just too scared.
Well, I, for one, am not afraid to discuss the tough stuff, the scary stuff, like how to be a good Tooth Fairy (or any other mythical creature). I know I was a monumentally crappy Tooth Fairy, but in hindsight, I have some honest-to-goodness, save-your-tooth-swapping-ass tips that you’ll never find in Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care book.
Get ready to lower your standards and achieve greatness.
1. First and foremost, determine what kind of Tooth Fairy you are going to be in advance of the first tooth loss.
Do you want to be the dramatic Tooth Fairy who farts glitter, gold coins, and gifts with each tooth? (The answer is no.) Remember that kids compare notes at school, and other parents will resent you for that over-the-top crap. Also keep in mind that you need to select a strategy that you can pull off for all of your children. I highly recommend going low-key. It’s much better to be the best crappy Tooth Fairy than the worst overly ambitious one.
2. Purchase and/or procure 20 of whatever gift the Tooth Fairy is giving.
Each child loses 20 teeth; you may have to do some multiplication depending on how many kids you have. Get the cash and/or presents now; don’t wait until the day you need it. At least 50 percent of the time, the tooth will fly out of your child’s mouth close to midnight, leaving you shit out of luck if you’re not fully prepared. Hide your stash well enough so your kids can’t find it, but not so well that you forget where it is. By the way, it doesn’t make you a better parent if you dispense $20 per tooth—it just pisses off the rest of us. $1 per tooth is just fine and is much easier on the back account when preparing your stash.
3. Select the right tooth holder.
Do not have your child place a tooth directly under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy to find. It will get lost, either by your kid or by you (probably by you). Special pillows also run the risk of getting lost in between Tooth Fairy visits. After years of failure, er, experimentation, we found a simple Ziploc bag works effectively. You (almost) always have one, and they’re easy to clutch in the middle of the night (possibly after a few drinks), ensuring the tooth won’t go flying out of your hand into oblivion (and your child won’t cry when he finds a random tooth in the house)—not that that’s ever happened to me.
4. Design an effective swap technique.
I urge you to steer away from conducting the critical exchange underneath your child’s pillow. Kids can wake up and/or accidentally get pushed out of bed. Might I suggest taping the bagged tooth to the outside of your child’s bedroom door? Or better yet, create a Tooth Shrine in the bathroom—you know, where the kids smear toothpaste all over the sink instead of actually brushing their teeth? Your chances of getting caught red-handed in there are drastically reduced.
5. Create an elaborate system of reminders.
An entire day can pass between the time the actual tooth falls out and the time the Tooth Fairy visits. That’s several hours of other crap filling your head. And once that plastic tooth bag is tucked away by the Tooth Shrine, it might as well be gone from the earth. So set multiple alarms on your phone: “The Tooth Fairy is coming! The Tooth Fairy is coming!” Put your kid in charge of creating and hanging a few “Welcome Tooth Fairy!” signs that you’ll be sure to stumble across throughout the evening.
6. Don’t drink alcohol that night.
It increases the likelihood that you will forget your magical duties. Or, since we both know we’re kidding ourselves about not drinking, just put a Post-It note on the bottle and or glass from which you’re drinking. Or put a note on your pillow that you will see before you collapse in a pile of exhaustion at the end of the day.
7. Have a backup plan.
Have some emergency cash stashed somewhere in the house that you can raid when you forget where you hid the original cache of goods and/or when you realize that you spent that hoard on some new shoes that you didn’t want your husband to know about.
8. Expect to fail.
Yeah sure, that first exchange will go great. Don’t get cocky or expect the rest of them to go as well. Slowly but surely, the Tooth Fairy’s performance will go downhill. Just prepare for the tears (from your child too). You can blame booze, sleep deprivation, memory loss, or maybe some sort of combination of those. All the Tooth Fairy’s issues, of course. Not yours.
9. When all else fails, point the finger at someone else.
At the child: “Are you sure you hung the signs correctly?” At the Tooth Fairy: “The Tooth Fairy must have been very busy last night. Let’s try again tonight.” At anyone else: “Maybe Santa Claus ran into the Tooth Fairy with his sleigh. I hope the reindeer are okay.”
See? When you set the bar really low, you are certain to succeed.