The best gift, and investment, you can give your child is your time.
— Kevin Heath
Driving to the shops this morning, listening to the radio, the topic of conversation was the Tooth Fairy.
The question: ‘How much does the Tooth Fairy pay for your child’s teeth?’
Twenty dollars …
Um … pardon?
That was for the first one … she was only four.
I nearly ran off the road. What insanity was this? What 4-year old needs $20? Where do you go from there? Admittedly, four is a very young age to be losing your first baby tooth … but twenty dollars?
Five hours later and I am still reeling from this revelation.
Thankfully, the remainder of the people who had called in were more down-to-earth. Tooth Fairy payouts ranged from a gold coin to four dollars (half to donate to charity and half for the canteen at school). Still, that’s more than I received; inflation has a lot to answer for it seems.
Depending on which internet article you read, the tradition of the Tooth Fairy handing out per tooth payments or gifts started somewhere in Europe during the 17th Century with America (and possibly Australia) adopting the practice in the early 1900s. The myths surrounding baby teeth go back much further and many countries have different ways of disposing of baby teeth so as to afford on-going good luck to the child.
Whatever its origins, the Tooth Fairy has gone the way of other magical beings, i.e. the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, becoming more commercial than anything else.
When I was of tooth-losing age, the fallen baby tooth would sit in a glass of water next to my bed awaiting collection from the Tooth Fairy who would reward me with twenty cents. (Note: cents not dollars.)
My own children, on the other hand, had little specially made tooth treasure chests. The tooth would be carefully laid inside the treasure chest at night, placed next to the bed, and opened in the morning to reveal a gold coin. (Note: coin not note.) My daughter also had a tooth fairy light, lest the tooth fairy not be able to find her way to the tooth in the dark.
My question is: why do we do this?
I am as guilty as the next parent of perpetuating these lies in the name of a magical childhood. We teach our children not to lie, yet we do so ourselves; the line between the two is exceptionally slim.
Magic in childhood is fine — if it works for your child. But, what do you do with the child who finds out the truth before he is ready? Or with the child who fears unknown people coming into his room at night? Or with the child who boldly asks, ‘Why did you tell me that stuff if it wasn’t true?’
One caller to the radio this morning spoke of leaving her son a letter from the Tooth Fairy, thanking him for keeping his teeth clean and offering suggestions as to how he could continue to look after his teeth.
There may have been a small amount of money involved, I can’t remember, but that is not the point.
This parent took the time to compose the letter; rather than hurriedly chucking out the old tooth and rummaging through her purse for a coin (or a note) at 3am because she had forgotten about it before she went to bed.
You may well ask, where’s the magic in that?
The magic was still there; the letter was from the Tooth Fairy.
I would imagine this letter would be remembered long after the money was spent.