the tooth fairy note
My 6-year-old, Chicken, lost his first tooth yesterday. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go; we have a fraught history with teeth as well as anxiety in this house. (DO click that link. It’s a classic parent fail.)
But while Chicken did express some nervousness, he also wiggled that tooth like it was the gearshift of his Nissan Maxima as he threw donuts in the mall parking lot on a Friday night. (I have absolutely no idea if that image holds up, but it feels right. Let’s get a gif check:
Yep, that checks out.)
And only 24 hours after he felt the first wiggle, that tooth was OUT, baby!
“Baby, that’s great! Congratulations!” As I said it, I wondered, “IS it great, though? Or is it weird that I’m like SOOOO excited about his teeth falling out?” Not just because teeth falling out is the stuff of literal nightmares, but also because he’s shedding his babyhood, one pearly little kernel at a time.
“Are you excited for the Tooth Fairy?”
“Mom, I’m not going to give my tooth to the Tooth Fairy.”
“Because it’s part of my body, Mom. It’s not for sale.”
This whole time I’ve been telling my kid to sell his body parts to a supernatural home invader who’s gonna lurk over his sleeping body and steal his teeth?!?!? AND FOR WHAT? MONEY?
WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!?!?!
I can actually tell you exactly what I was thinking: I was remembering my own childhood. When my teeth fell out, I too said, “Keep your forty pieces of silver, you impish profiteer of loss. I have integrity and healthy boundaries about my body, and those are more precious to me than gold.”
JK I was like:
DO YOU ALSO ACCEPT FINGERNAILS, TOOTH FAIRY? LEMME GET THE CLIPPERS.
I AM ALSO HAPPY TO SHAVE MY HEAD FOR TEN DOLLARS.
HOW MUCH FOR A TOE
Clearly, I had no problem with the idea of selling my body to the highest (slash only) bidder. I maintain a complete lack of judgment for kids and parents who dig the Tooth Fairy and who have the business savvy to recognize and opt into a solid-gold deal when they see it.
I wanted to make sure Chicken understood that he was opting out of some pretty sweet capital gains on his initial investment.
“OK, that’s your choice. But will you be okay with it if the Tooth Fairy doesn’t come?”
He shrugged and said, “Some things are more important than money.”
WHO IS THIS CHILD.
He sprang from the womb (ew, sorry sorry sorry, never again I promise) of a woman who, in elementary school, plotted as to how she could steal the teeth of OTHER CHILDREN and pass them off as her own. #BornThisWay
Having fallen from this tree, by all rights, Chicken should be dumpster-diving behind pet dentists and sanding down driveway gravel into tiny counterfeit molars. Instead, he asked me to help him write this letter to the Tooth Fairy:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
Today I lost my first tooth. But I want to keep it, because my body is not for sale. I know that usually when people lose teeth you come and get their teeth and leave them money. Thank you for coming by tonight. You don’t need to come for my other teeth either. I want to keep them. Is that too much to ask? Please leave a note for me so I can know your answer.
And this is what the Tooth Fairy wrote to him in return:
Congratulations on your first tooth! Wow, that happened fast!
That first tooth can be a little scary or strange, and you handled it beautifully. Perfect wiggling form, excellent persistence, and when that tooth came out on the playground, you were ready for it. Outstanding, kid. Simply outstanding. When a new grown-up tooth will grow into that gap, you’ll know that you’re growing up.
Another way you’ll know you’re growing up is the way you make decisions about your own body. I’m very proud of you for telling me that you want to hold onto your teeth. You’re absolutely right: your teeth are a part of your body, which belongs to you. I support you 100% and I would never take your tooth without your permission. That’s a Tooth Fairy Promise.
I’m going to tell you a little secret, Chicken. My work isn’t just about buying teeth. I love my job because as the Tooth Fairy, I get to give kids a small gift to say congratulations and keep up the good work. Growing up is hard work, and sometimes it feels strange or scary, just like losing that first tooth. It’s my job (and your mom’s and dad’s and Nana’s and Grandma’s and Papa’s and Granddaddy’s job) to let you know that even when something new, strange, or scary happens, we are all proud of you and cheering you on! Go, Chicken!
So here’s a gift to celebrate YOU, Chicken! You’re growing into a kind, creative, curious, very special person. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to visit when you lose teeth to give you a small gift. Instead of leaving me your tooth under your pillow, could you please leave me a picture or poem? I love your artwork so much.
The Tooth Fairy
Have a great day everybody, and remember: It’s your body. You can sell it if you want to. You can decline to sell it if you want to. It’s yours and you get to choose.
Just in case this post sounded like a humblebrag, you should know that the whole conversation with Chicken about how his body was not for sale happened when I picked Chicken up early from school yesterday, not because his tooth fell out, but because I was on my way to the emergency room with Buster.
I found B in the laundry room surrounded by detergent pods, and he told me that he ate one, and THEN he acted like he was going to vomit while I was on the phone with Poison Control. He was spitting, moaning, writhing, the whole 9 yards. But of course as soon as I was off the phone with Poison Control and throwing supplies into a backpack for an impromptu ER visit (are there any ER visits that aren’t impromptu tho?) he perked right up and was all “No, Mom, of course I didn’t eat any detergent,” but it was too late by then because “WE’RE ON THE GRID NOW WE GOTTA ROLL KID. Also you might be poisoned.”
He wasn’t, btw, but he really committed to the nausea of a child who had just ingested liquid detergent, and he sold that shit. He sold it down to the ground. His shit’s method. Also, a 4-year-old’s relationship with reality can best be described as fluid.
As can our detergent.
As can my dinner last night.
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