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My oldest daughter lost her first tooth—bottom front—a little over a week past her sixth birthday. We’d been waiting for that tiny, wiggly thing to fall out for far too long. I went jelly-legged every time she showed me how she could push it all the way forward and back with her tongue. (What is it about loose teeth that makes me feel like I need to put my head between my knees?)
Our excitement and anticipation over the Tooth Fairy’s first visit was palpable.
Did I mention that this child of mine is the queen of bric-a-brac, a collector of Important Items? Recently evicted baby teeth, we were about to learn, were very important.
I know, I know—a collection of old teeth is gross. (I know this firsthand, because I found my own last year, secured in a velvet pouch, tucked into a box of childhood memories.)
But she wrote a note! What was I supposed to do?
Dear Tooth Fairy can you leave my tooth?
It was the beginning of a lot of one-way correspondence that my determined daughter found highly unsatisfactory. I could handle playing along with this Tooth Fairy business, but only to a point. I was not, I repeat not, going to be writing any notes on the Tooth Fairy’s behalf. There would be no glitter trail left as bonus evidence.
The following February, another tooth down:
To: Tooth Fairy
Leave my tooth plese.
Can you plese tell me your name I will ceep it seecret.
And then in April, improved spelling and not about to give up on the quest for a reply and the Tooth Fairy’s true identity:
Dear Tooth Fairy
Can you please leave my tooth?
P.S. What do you do with teeth?
P.P.S. Please leave item in baggie.
P.P.P.S. What is your name?
Please write back.
In May, on a field trip with her first-grade class, a top tooth fell out right into her open palm during a playground slide collision. When she arrived back at school, the nurse gave her a special necklace to keep it safe. That night’s note read:
Dear Tooth Fairy, can you please leave my tooth?
What other fairies are there?
Oh I want to tell you my tooth is in the necklace, MOM.
That one felt like a trap. Still, the Tooth Fairy remained unresponsive.
For every incisor and canine lost over the following year, another note containing some version of the message:
Leave the tooth, please. And tell me who you are!
One November morning, I woke to an indignant tiny person at my bedside. “Mom!” Through the crust on my eyelids, I made out the clock—6am!—and a riot of blonde hair. “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come!”
I shot upright, suddenly very much awake. “Huh. That’s so weird!”
Except it wasn’t that weird, because the Tooth Fairy fell asleep on the couch last night watching Friends. The Tooth Fairy also didn’t have any cash in her purse.
“I’m sure there’s a good explanation for this!” I said confidently, grabbing my phone from the nightstand and backing into the bathroom, where I hid, as moms do while trying to figure out what exactly a good explanation would be.
I hopped on Facebook and threw out an SOS: “Tooth Fairy was a no-show. Anyone else’s service been spotty?”
And wouldn’t you know? The Tooth Fairy is unreliable across the board. I’m talking one-star reviews. “Would not recommend to a friend.”
Here are just a few of the excuses other gummy-smiled kids have received upon waking to discover there’s still an old tooth under their pillow and no cash to be found:
• The Tooth Fairy is clumsy and tends to drop money, often under the bed where only Mom is able to spot it. This doesn’t explain the tooth still being there; nice try though.
• The Tooth Fairy offers no guarantees. See asterisk next to “Same-Day Delivery.” A lesson in paying attention to the fine print.
• There must have been a hockey game last night—obviously, she was overbooked. Brilliant.
• The Tooth Fairy takes Fridays off. Or Tuesdays, or Saturdays…
• Her wings got wet in the rain, and she couldn’t fly until they dried. This lady knows her fairy facts.
• Your room was too messy for the Tooth Fairy to find her way to your tooth. Once the room is clean, she’ll be back. Well, that’s just mean.
Moms are evil geniuses. I applaud you all.
In the case of our missing Tooth Fairy, it turned out she’d just overslept. A couple of quarters showed up later that morning.
They were tucked beneath a tiny note of apology, written in sparkly pink ink.
Rebekah Crosby is a former copy editor who traded in her red pen for a sparkly pink one. She tells imperfect stories about faith and family at Write the Rough Draft. Wife of a woodworker and mom of two daughters, her hobbies include photography, reading too many books at a time, and forgetting to turn on the dryer. Rebekah is co-founder of The Drafting Desk, a monthly email for those longing for freedom over perfection, and she shares slices of life on Instagram at @writetheroughdraft.
Check out the most recent episode of the Kindred Mom podcast, Episode 38: Every Screen Tells a Story!