Preserving the Mystique of the Tooth Fairy

I was originally going to title this “Perpetuating the Myth of the Tooth Fairy”, but the verb in that sentence seemed so harsh and unworthy of such a beloved being.

glenda The Tooth Fairy was my most favorite mythological creature as a child. She still is. My parents had me utterly convinced of her existence. Never seen by human eyes, I used to imagine what she might look like. My tooth fairy was blond (of course) with luminescent white skin and totally resplendent in a pale blue dress, embroidered with tiny silver molars. She lived in a city built entirely of the teeth she’d been collecting for centuries. She also lived on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, which was very convenient as I lived not too far from downtown myself.

Although I loved my cousins dearly, I dreaded going to visit them in Detroit whenever I had a wiggly tooth. I wasn’t sure if Michigan had a Tooth Fairy, and couldn’t be certain my own Tooth Fairy was willing to travel that far. Fortunately, she made the trek faithfully, leaving my expected dollar in dimes and quarters, even if I was out of town.

I think I liked the Tooth Fairy best of all the Guardians because she was the lowest maintenance of the bunch. In order to get a gift from Santa, I had to be good all year. In order to access my basket from the Easter Bunny, I had to go on a search. The Tooth Fairy met me where I was, just as you would expect a benevolent maternal figure to do. Sadly, I lost her when we moved to Ghana in 1986. I was brokenhearted when I woke up morning after morning only to discover my slowly decaying tooth I’d lost days before in the same carefully placed location under my square pillow.            

Years later I asked my mother if she or my father was the Tooth Fairy. She looked up from her book and smirked condescendingly at me.

“Do you think me or your father would ever get up to put money under your pillow?”

I thought about it for a moment and shook my head.

“No. I can’t see either one of you doing that.”

She looked back at her book and never said another word. That sealed it. The Tooth Fairy WAS real.

I wonder if my kids will have the same conviction when they are 34 years old. I almost ruined that possibility in the wee hours of this morning.

I sleep naked. This is important information for you to have, as you need an accurate visual for the tale I am about to tell you.

You see Reader, I have kept the spirit of the Tooth Fairy alive in our home and have done so since Nadjah began losing teeth 4 years ago, faithfully creeping into the kids’ room and swapping out money for teeth for that long. I have to confess however that I have had had markedly less energy with the birth of each child and have missed a good number of Tooth Fairy appointments for the older girls in the last 8 months. When Aya lost a tooth at school yesterday afternoon, I vowed that I would make sure she had money under her pillow when she woke up. The going rate for a tooth in our house is a dollar. However, I only had two $5 bills in my purse. It was cold and I was sleepy and I justified that she was worth the $5. I fell into a coma with intentions of waking up around 1 am and putting the money under her pillow.

At 5:13 am I woke up with a start.

“Oh no!” I gasped.

“What?” my husband murmured.

“I was supposed to put Aya’s money under her pillow this morning,” I whispered in a panic.

“Well then you better hurry up and get on it.”

He rolled back over and I threw the covers off me. The cold air hit my skin like a slap.

I gingerly walked down our creaky staircase and made for the dining room where my purse was sitting. In the darkness, I tripped over a plastic dinosaur and slid across the floor on one of Stone’s train tracks. I bit my lip to keep from cursing in the twilight. I fished the fiver from my wallet and tiptoed back up the stairs.

I stopped at the children’s door and tried to catch my breath. The sun was slowly beginning its ascent and I was running out of time. I had missed the precious REM cycle that would have guaranteed my entering the room undetected. I moved into the room and lifted myself up on my tip toes. The floor groaned with every step I took. Someone grunted and turned over on a mattress.  Alarmed, I dropped to the floor and slithered across the gritty carpet, like an engorged anaconda. I gripped the precious $5 bill in my hand and looked for Aya on the lower bunk.

She was not there.


I peered at the top bunk and saw two bodies lying tangled in a huge comforter, toe to head. Aya was on left. I gingerly tipped towards her and put my hand under her pillow. The ziplock bag that her teacher had put her tooth in was nowhere to be found. I ran my hand over her mattress for what seemed like an eternity and still could not locate it.

What should I do now?

I stood there in the room, cold, naked and fat with my magic offering in my hand, pondering my next moves. Suddenly, Aya woke up and met my worried gaze with half opened eyes.

“Good morning Sweetie,” I cooed.

She rolled over and went back to sleep without a word in reply.

I let out a slow breath and put the money in the corner of her bed. When she sat up, she’d see it lying there. I dropped to all fours and crawled out of the room, mindful of the metaphorical parallels of my sluggishly retreating backside and the sphere glowing in the sky.

30 minutes later, Aya woke up and giggled gleefully. I heard her talking to her father in the next room.

“Daddy, the Tooth Fairy came!”

“Oh really?” he said in mock surprise.

“Uh huh! And she left me FIVE dollars!” she cackled.

“I think it’s because your grades were so good this semester,” he mused.

“But why didn’t she take my tooth?” she pondered.

“She probably couldn’t get the Ziploc bag open.”


The next thing I heard was her piggy bank jingling. I chuckled to myself and drifted back to sleep. The Tooth Fairy lives another day.