The Truth About the Tooth Fairy
by Daniel Griffin
Back when Evelyn was four, we let the truth about the Easter Bunny slip. Actually, it was my wife Kim who let it slip. Easter morning when we were all a little giddy on chocolate, Evelyn shared her suspicions about who the Easter Bunny really was, and Kim fessed up. Same thing happened with Santa two years later. We were sitting in front of the tree on Christmas day and Evelyn asked, for about the hundredth time, if we were Santa. And so we told her. After a moment of shock, she said she wished she didn’t know.
That was just over a year ago. Since then the Tooth Fairy’s the only bit of magic we’ve had left. I’ve got to say, the Tooth Fairy isn’t my favourite imaginary character. The height of individualism and commerce, she’s about as Republican as they get: the Tooth Fairy comes for you and only you, and she leaves you cash. All the same she was Evelyn’s last connection to that good, innocent world where magic does happen. (Okay, I suppose you could count Leprechauns, but even I find it a stretch to argue that mischievous little green people are living in our yard.)
The problem with Tooth Fairies is that they operate in different ways all over town. One day Evelyn came home saying you could tell the colour of a Tooth Fairy by leaving your tooth in a glass of water. I hadn’t even realized there were different types, but apparently the water’s colour the next morning indicates which fairy visited. A few weeks after telling us this, Evelyn popped her first tooth. It was her grandfather’s birthday and we were at a cabin in Oregon. We’d had a bit to drink that night, so by two in the morning when I remembered our Tooth Fairy duties, the only thing I could find to colour the water was root beer.
In the morning, Evelyn noticed the scent. “That smells like root beer.” I tried not to smile, but sometimes it feels good to be outsmarted by your kids—reassurance that the genes you passed on are okay after all. I told her it must have been the root beer Tooth Fairy.
When your kid knows you’re Santa and the Easter Bunny, it’s a battle to convince her you’re not the Tooth Fairy. Last week, Evelyn lost another tooth and told us something new about the Tooth Fairy. Apparently you can save up all your lost teeth until your birthday then the Tooth Fairy brings something really big. The problem was, we lost that one tooth three times before nightfall so there was no way it was lasting nine months. My wife said Evelyn could keep it a couple of days and then the Tooth Fairy was coming for it.
Next morning I woke Evelyn for school. Covers pulled up to her chin and still drowsy, the first thing she did was reach under her pillow. She pulled out the tiny box where she’d been keeping the tooth and rattled it. “It’s still there. Now I know you’re the Tooth Fairy. I put it under just to test.”
Have I mentioned how good it feels to be outsmarted by your own kid?
Of course, it also plucked a deeper chord. Realizing there are no magical creatures sharing kindness around the world is one of the tough lessons of growing up. I realize it’s sometimes harder for the parents than the kids—especially if, like me, you used to threaten to cancel your three-year-old’s birthday so she’d stay three forever—but I can still recall the shock from when I was a kid. People talk about remembering where they were when Kennedy was shot. I remember where I was when I learned there was no Santa Claus.
A few days ago, I asked Evelyn about why she suspected the truth. She doesn’t remember back as far as the Easter Bunny and Santa, but it was the inconsistencies that tipped her off about the Tooth Fairy. So I figure, if we want to keep our kids believing, we need to get a few things straight. Is the Tooth Fairy male or female? Is there more than one or is she like Santa and we all have to share her? Could she really get away with giving less for a tooth with a filling? What about this idea you can save up teeth for something bigger? The big one, of course, is how much money she gives. We need agreement on that. And that just takes care of the Tooth Fairy—we still have Santa and the Easter Bunny to cover. If we’re going to outsmart the kids, we need to get organized. I’m going to put it on the agenda for our next PAC meeting.
Daniel Griffin is a writer and a father of three. He lives in Victoria.