Stepping Up My Tooth Fairy Game

by Shauna Armitage
Originally Published: 
A boy holding his tooth and smiling, waiting for the tooth fairy
EvgeniiAnd / Shutterstock

So it happened—again. The Tooth Fairy didn’t make it to my house last night. I was aware that tooth No. 6 fell out just before dinner yesterday, but I was pretty focused on getting something in my screaming toddler’s stomach at the time. My son was excited, but he’s been there, done that already, so there wasn’t a huge amount of fanfare. He put the tooth in a baggy, cleaned up his bloody mouth right away, ran the tooth upstairs under to place under his pillow, and promptly started whining that if the meatballs weren’t ready soon he’d starve to death. The night went on.

Then this morning I went upstairs to wake him up for school and found a sobbing 6-year-old holding a little plastic baggy. The Tooth Fairy never came. Shit. I suck as a parent.

Isn’t it my parental duty to help maintain my son’s innocence and sense of wonder by pretending to be a hoard of magical creatures all year long? Aren’t I supposed to bust my ass to make holidays special and then let some figment of his imagination take all the credit? I’m so damn sick and tired of the runaround, and he’s only 6. I have two more little ones who will be going through this song and dance in a few years. Someone, please put me out of my misery before I ruin my kids’ childhoods with my negligent parenting.

Last time I screwed up, it was simple. He couldn’t find his tooth and wasn’t sure if the Fairy had come. I rushed upstairs while he was brushing his teeth and slipped a dollar under his pillow, plus an extra 50 cents for penance, and told him to look again. Woo-hoo! Crisis averted. This time wouldn’t be that simple.

Thinking fast—especially first thing in the morning—is not my forte. At that very moment, however, something needed to be done. I started spitballing reasons that the Tooth Fairy didn’t make it to our house the night before, and my 6-year-old ate it up. He joined right in. Here are some of the things we came up with. If you ever find yourself in a bind, these can be pretty convincing:

– She had a really busy night and simply didn’t make it to our house yet.

– The dog was sleeping in his room. Maybe the Tooth Fairy is afraid of dogs?

– Daddy locked the windows before he went to bed. She couldn’t possibly get into the house!

We decided we would write a note to the Tooth Fairy. But, of course, that never actually happened because we had to rush to get ready for school. The only thing more difficult than managing my time as a parent is managing my kid’s time. My son went off to school happy as a clam, but then I had to really think about how best to remedy my giant mistake.

When all’s said and done, I know I’m not a bad parent, just an imperfect one. I can barely remember to brush my own teeth each night in between getting the kids ready for bed, cleaning up after the kids go to bed, and getting work done before I go to bed—much less remember if there’s a tooth waiting for collection under my kid’s pillow. Tomorrow is going to be just as crazy as today was, and it’s not going to get any easier. I just hope that I can manage to do a little better tomorrow.

One day my son will know all of my parenting secrets, and he’ll appreciate all the work I did to keep his childhood magical. But for now, I really need to suck it up and step up my Tooth Fairy game even if I can’t take the credit for it.

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