One of the big milestones when you have little ones is the loss of that first tooth. It's something nobody has any control over, yet parents seem to find a way to take credit for it and/or brag about it anyway.
"Little Bobby just lost his first tooth! He's advanced you know; the dentist was predicting it would happen next spring."
You know how those conversations go.
Toothless grins in Christmas card pictures and kids who suddenly develop the inability to speak without spitting are priceless trophies of parenthood.
When my son first started losing those tiny slivers of enamel, my husband and I came up with the brilliant idea that we the Tooth Fairy would give a dollar coin for each tooth lost. This was back when Susan B. Anthony was on the coin and they were harder to find than a teenager willing to mow the lawn. We scrambled to find a few before he lost his next tooth.
When he woke up and found one under his pillow we had to explain that it was a dollar, not just the quarter that it so closely resembles. That took a bit of the excitement away, since we weren't even sure he believed us when we told him it was real money.
We certainly didn't want him thinking the Tooth Fairy had ripped him off, even though his friends were already getting $5 bills for theirs.
The whole scheme is a ripoff if you ask me. Did the kids all unionize when we weren't looking?
The following year the U.S. Mint introduced the Sacajawea golden dollar coin, and the Tooth Fairy in our house went crazy. Golden dollars! They shine! They look like they're made of gold! We must have them to place under the head of our adorable little boy in exchange for those nuggets of calcium!
We went from bank to bank collecting them, bank tellers giving us odd looks when we asked about them.
"How many do you have? Twenty? Are they shiny? I'll take them all!"
I felt like a Beanie Baby collector in the early 90's.
So eventually we had enough for both kids to lose all twenty of their baby teeth and be properly rewarded. We kept our stash secretly hidden for those nights we had to creep into one of their rooms and quietly steal the tooth from under the pillow.
It wasn't always easy to get the tooth, either. They insisted on putting them under the pillow way under their heads. I got very clever at pushing down ever-so-slightly on the mattress under the pillow to create a divot, then grab the tooth and replace it with the dollar.
I still have all of those odd little teeth in my jewelry box. You probably didn't need to know that, but I just can't bring myself to throw them away.
A few years ago, my youngest finally lost her last baby tooth and our Tooth Fairy days were over. It wasn't like they still believed in her anyway, but you have to admit it's a good racket for the kid.
Fast forward a few years. Last week, my daughter had finally saved up enough money to buy the iPod she's been coveting for months. Months, people. And she's been saving and saving for it.
So we bought it on the credit card and she brought me her stash of cash to reimburse me.
So on Monday I went to the bank to deposit the cash, and those coins had finally come full circle. Back to the bank they went, tarnished and worn, possibly ready for a second life under another kid's pillow. It felt like the end of an era, the closing of something that had once seemed so big and important to me.
So I did what any self-respecting mom would do. I kept one.
And stashed it with the little teeth.
Take that, Tooth Fairy.
Sherri blogs at Old Tweener, where she writes about parenting and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) while living in those years between changing diapers and wearing them.
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