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Harrassing the Tooth Fairy

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Everyone needs a little fantasy

Alfs lost a tooth last week. One of the two year molars, I believe. He dutifully wrapped the tooth and put it under his pillow. The tooth fairy, however, kept forgetting to swap the tooth for cash. Darn that Tooth Fairy!

Everyone needs a little fantasyWhen the Tooth Fairy did finally retrieve the tooth, she found a note folded up and rubber-banded to the wrapped tooth. It read:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Due to rising fuel costs and the increased cost of living, the price for a tooth has risen from $1 to $2.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,
Alfs


The Tooth Fairy had to cover her mouth to keep from roaring with laughter, thus waking up the sleeping entrepreneur.

Telling, by not telling

Alfs, of course, is too old to believe in the Tooth Fairy. While we have never explicitly discussed the non-reality of the Tooth Fairy (or any other being with magical traits for that matter), he's a smart kid. He figured it out, and quite a while ago, too.

But since we never explicitly discussed it, it means we get to play this fun game when he loses teeth, mostly as a show for his youngest sibling. Alfs still puts his teeth under his pillow and the Tooth Fairy still shows up. We talk about the Tooth Fairy in the third person, crack jokes about the Tooth Fairy, wonder what the Tooth Fairy does with all those teeth. We probably have more fun with the Tooth Fairy now than when he believed.

Creating the magic

This decision not to tell my kids explicitly about the (non) existence of certain fantastical beings (I think you know who) was deliberate. It was after a conversation with an older and much wiser friend several years ago that I just decided to let the belief play out as it would. My friend described how her oldest was never told, but definitely understood and now helped his parents continue to create the environment for his younger siblings. She told me how in the non-telling, she and her oldest son created and maintained an extra bit of connection. Considering her son is one of the nicest teenagers I have ever known, I wanted that, too!

Almost instantly, I decided I would not explicitly tell. I'd try to follow my friend's lead. I had a small backup plan should a neighborhood or school friend spill the beans early, but mostly I just want to keep the magic going as long as possible. So far, it's going okay - though I have to admit this has as much to do with my kids' inherent personalities as it does with any creation of the fantasy; they want to believe. Alfs clearly doesn't believe, but sees how much fun it is to play along - now he's even helping me create the magic for his younger siblings - and there is another kind of belief in that.

Keeping the fun

It was after several evenings of feigned disappointment in the Tooth Fairy that the tooth and note finally was retrieved. Secure in the knowledge that the fun would continue, the Tooth Fairy wrote the following note and slipped it under Alfs pillow with $1.50 as he slept:

Dear Alfs,

Nice try.

No.

But here's an extra 50 cents for chutzpah.

Sincerely,
The Tooth Fairy

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