sticker shock

I Started The Tooth Fairy At $20 & Boy Did I Mess Up

A very, very expensive venture because I now have four kids.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: A fresh, whopping $20 bill from the tooth fairy for my oldest son’s first lost tooth. I’d been dreaming about motherhood for as long as I could remember, and so finally getting to play tooth fairy was a long-awaited moment. Anything less than a $20 just didn’t accurately represent my excitement for this occasion (at the time). And I needed my kid to be blown away (as if a magical fairy exchanging old teeth for any denomination wasn't enough). I even went to the bank to ensure I had the crispest bill — then sprinkled it with a little glitter. Only the best for my guy.

And boy, was he thrilled when he woke up! In hindsight, I wonder if he would have been equally happy with a quarter. At five, it’s not like they really understand monetary value, after all. I guess I’ll never know. What I do know, though, is that my decision to drop a fresh Andrew Jackson on that first tiny tooth really set me up for an expensive tooth fairy adventure. A very, very expensive venture because I know have four kids. There is no going backwards on tooth trade in value. And guess what? I’m broke.

Currently, I am $60 in the hole on my first three kids’ first teeth alone. Did you know that each child loses 20 baby teeth?! I honestly thought they only lost the front few. So when my 9-year-old lost a molar I called the dentist because I thought he was going to need dentures! (And yes, I obviously lost them myself when I was growing up, but clearly I had somehow forgotten.)

And I hate to admit it, but the novelty of the tooth fairy wears off! What was once an excitingly adorable and well-received task now feels like a bad fire drill that I am almost always unprepared for. My husband and I have really bungled it in a few different occasions over the years.

There was the time when my son lost the tooth during pre-bedtime brushing and we immediately sent out an SOS text to the entire neighborhood looking for cash. Thankfully one of the dads was on his way home from a beer run and threw a couple bucks in our mailbox. Then there was the time right before Christmas when I thought I had cash but didn’t, so instead I grabbed a fake diamond encrusted gold chain with a basketball pendant on it from Santa’s secret basement stash and put that under the pillow. Needless to say my son was very confused the next morning. And lastly were the two times that we just completely forgot to execute the plan. Once we pretended to find the bill under the bed due to irresponsible fairy placement, and the other time it came a day late with a note explaining that there was a fairy emergency the night prior.

But really, it’s the total sticker price that’s wrecking me. For those at home keeping score, 20 baby teeth times four kids is 80 teeth. 80 x $20 is $1,600. Seeing what this ultimately costs me (plus or minus a fake gold chain or two) makes me what to rethink this whole thing. God d*mn, hindsight.

So, let this be a cautionary tale. For those of you starting your tooth fairy journey, just know that you are setting the bar with that first tooth trade in value. I suggest you do a little projective math before you get the ball rolling — maybe a spreadsheet or two to ensure you avoid bankruptcy. Or you could set the bar high and then fly by the seat of your pants like I did. Just make sure your neighbors always have cash or know where’s the closest ATM is for a midnight run.

Samm is passionate about sharing her honest, raw, unfiltered truth about motherhood. She loves newborns, statement sunglasses, Justin Bieber, and a well-placed F bomb. She is a complicated introvert, giving most of her energy to her chaotic household but she is a foxhole chick. She is currently working her way into the next stage of life beyond the years of babies — and while she is a little sad and nervous, she is hopeful for what is next