Every toothless picture posted. Every report of another child coming to school with a missing tooth. Every debate about how much is too much for loose teeth. Every news of a wiggly canine or incisor hanging by a thin piece of gum. All of it reminds me my days of full sets of baby teeth are numbered.
My oldest is five, and as parents do with each passing day, I eagerly anticipate the next milestone of his fleeting childhood. First words, first steps, first day of school — all have come and gone. Now, I await the next one, a pivotal moment on his journey to adulthood, the loss of his first tooth.
I am nervous about how the experience will feel for my son. I wonder if it will feel weird and if he will be scared. I could delve deeply into that topic, but I don’t feel like entertaining those thoughts right now. Admittedly, I am concerned about one aspect of the whole loose tooth thing: the Tooth Fairy.
A large part of me wants to tell the Tooth Fairy to take a flying leap out of the window. My rational brain can list so many reasons to just shelve this idea and celebrate this milestone another way. Honestly, I am even cool with the idea of giving my kid some cash or a small toy. Granted, the idea of rewarding a kid for doing nothing except having a normal bodily function gives me pause, but I am not that much of a buzzkill.
The thing I am most uncomfortable with is all of the lying involved with perpetuating the tooth fairy myth. This isn’t a moral quandary. I have done some questionable things in the name of my kids happiness. I am just a horrible liar. I can avoid revealing certain truths, but when asked directly, I can’t hide the facts. There is a reason why my son knows exactly where babies come from and other answers to awkward questions. I am just no good at fibbing, and my son is persistent.
I could probably muster up enough skills to feign belief in the winged tooth lover, if it was a one time deal. But kids have lots of teeth, and I have two boys. That’s a lot of playing into a whimsical notion, and I don’t know how long I can keep up the rouse.
If you are wondering what I do about things like Santa and the Easter bunny, the answer is, I don’t. We are a Jewish family, so I am off the hook when it comes to two of the biggest lies we indulge for our children. There are no cookies to bake or eggs to collect.
And for those of you now asking, but what about the whole religion thing, isn’t she perpetuating some myths there? For me, it’s not the same because I wholeheartedly believe in a higher power. Though, I may question the representation of G-d in modern religion, and consider the stories of the Bible as interpretations of possible events, I am at my core a person of faith. When I speak about religion with my kids, it comes from a genuine place in my heart.
The Tooth Fairy, however, is bullshit. I know it is bullshit. And, if I am not careful, my kids will know it is bullshit, too. Yet, I also know the magic of childhood is fleeting, and reality can wait. I grew up with the Tooth Fairy, and not just any old flying nymph. My parents took the time to create actual characters with stories. I didn’t just get a note, I practically got a novel. I don’t even remember how much money I got, but those elaborate creations will always be with me. As a creative person, myself, I know I could love continuing that tradition with my kids.
For now, I am okay, with waiting to see how I feel. No matter how our family decides to celebrate the loss of teeth, we will make sure our children feel special, with or without the help of a flying tooth fanatic.