The Forgetful Fairy

It’s official: I’m a bad horrible tooth fairy. And not just because I’m cheap.  I’m forgetful, too.

Just the other day Lilla lost a bottom canine tooth after it spent what seemed like decades dangling by a dental thread. She proudly showed it – and the oozing bloody gap it left behind – to her grossed-out family, friends, and piano teacher, and then scavenged the recycling bin (aka her bedroom) for a decent receptacle to put it in. She finally decided to mount it on two used erasers perched on top of an old jelly jar she decoupaged with colorful tissue paper. For a final dramatic flare, she covered it with the lid of her peach-flavored lip gloss. Apparently, putting it under her pillow is SO last week.

Early the next morning, I startled myself awake after realizing I’d forgotten to slip a quarter underneath her pillow before I went to bed. As expected, a few minutes later, she called to me from her bedroom, her disappointment as clear as the blue sky outside my window, and it instantly reminded me of a similar predicament a few years ago involving her older sister.

“Mom!” Rainey yelled, “The tooth fairy forgot my tooth!”

“Really?” I asked when I got to her room, hoping a quarter may have somehow magically made its way under her pillow the night before.  But sure enough, after reaching under her pillow and feeling around, my fingers found her tiny fallen tooth instead.

With a pretend look of shock and dismay, I said, “Wow, honey, I’m so sorry he forgot.”  (For some reason, I’ve always thought the Tooth Fairy was a man.)  “Maybe he was sick last night,” I reasoned. “You know, a lot of people have called in sick to work lately because of the swine flu.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Rainey raised an eyebrow and shrugged, clearly not convinced.

“Why don’t we stick it under your pillow again,” I suggested. “I bet he’ll be feeling better tonight.”

So Rainey agreed and slid her tooth back under her bedding.

The next night, after she’d fallen asleep, Scott and I went to retrieve the tooth and found a note along with it that read:

Dear Totth Fariy,

I lost my totth.  It’s under my pellow.  My friend says she gets 5 bucks from you.  I am wondering if that kood happen to me to.


Rainey O.

We giggled quietly as we read it and stepped out in the hallway to discuss how to handle her request.

“That’s quite a mark-up,” Scott commented.  “Do you think we should give it to her?”

“Of course,” I whispered.

“But don’t you think she’s manipulating us?” Scott asked.

“Maybe,” I conceded, “but I feel guilty for blowing it last night.”

So we decided to slip the inflated amount under her pillow but with a note of our own:

Dear Rainey,

Thank you for your tooth! I’m sorry I couldn’t take it last night.  Usually I deliver quarters but here’s five dollars to help make up for my absence.



The following morning, Rainey stood at my bedside, toothlessly grinning and proudly displaying her five dollar bill two inches from my face.

“Wow,” I mumbled into my pillow, “the Tooth Fairy must be on the mend.”

“Yep,” Rainey chirped as she started to read the letter.  Then she skipped to the kitchen with five bucks in her pocket to enjoy a bowl of cereal.

“Well,” Scott said as he rolled over, “I think we rectified that situation.”

And I agreed, wishing at the time that all my parenting mistakes could be solved by throwing money at them.  By now I’d definitely be broke. My kids have lost quite a few teeth, and they still have plenty left to lose.

But over the years, I’ve accepted that as long as I’m mothering, I’ll be making mistakes. But forgetting and failing are what keep me real, what keep me humble and growing. Without mistakes, I’d be living a shallow, unapproachable existence. I think I’d rather fail and learn to live with it instead.

So last night, while Lilla slept, I gently dismantled the shrine she erected for her lost tooth and rested a quarter in its place. Then I took that tooth, that symbol of my baby growing older, and placed it in another jar with the rest of their baby teeth, safely keeping these precious reminders that though I may fall, something bigger and better is on its way.


  1. Indeed the tooth fairy is a guy! What a dear story about those sweet little ladies!
    <3 Mom

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