Teeth. We start life without ‘em, we end life without ‘em, and we switch sets towards the beginning. Funny little tools and facial decoration, our pearly whites.
I think the wiggling and losing of teeth is fairly gross. I could barely pull out my own baby teeth back in the day, and I sure as heck haven’t offered to help my kids in their respective tooth-losing efforts. I’m rather pleased that this baby set / adult set concept hasn’t spread to other body parts.
Keep wrenching your forearm back and forth, Jimmy … you need to loosen it up so that it can fall off and let your adult forearm grow in.
It’s certainly strange when teeth decide to bail out from your baby’s mouth. Their initial appearance is cause for celebration (and not a little drool and whining, most likely), then the original Lone Ranger tooth gathers siblings, and eventually a previously gummed smile becomes appropriately toothy (and dangerous to parents, siblings, and frustrating toddlers encountered at the park). Real food can be consumed and a baby now looks like toddler.
And then – just a few years later – the teeth decide to get out of dodge. See ya’, punk. Good luck with the rest of your life.
Not that you can blame those teeth, really. The kids in our household aren’t exactly gifted brushers and not a one of them relishes the idea of letting Dad gag them with a toothbrush. Cavities happen in such a setting, but they’re not the only danger. There are people like my brother who killed one of his front teeth when he set his face in the path of a cousin’s ping pong paddle swing.
Anyway, it’s weird that we lose our initial set of teeth. It’s also weird that it’s culturally acceptable to leave these lost teeth under one’s pillow and expect that a mythical winged creature will provide money and/or prizes for doing so.
We’ve embraced this weirdness in our household, and (because the first two teeth our eldest lost were swallowed) we sometimes add an additional bit of fun: messages to and from the tooth-loving fairy. The note to is just a brief greeting, a short explanation of the condition of the tooth and/or why it’s not actually under the pillow. That sort of thing. This note can be dictated if your kid is too young to write, and it can be supplemented with drawings and pictures by a kiddo of any age.
I would contend that such notes are more fun to keep than the lost teeth, for they’re relics of the physical milestone and communication, writing, and/or coloring skills of your kid at that moment in time.
Now complete the fun: write a return note to your kiddo. Just a little thank you from the TF and maybe a little update on how things are going in wherever she’s from. Or even a quick explanation as to why the TF completely failed to pick up the tooth last night (d’oh!).
Tooth fairy’ing, for a whole lot of reasons, is one of my least favorite dad tasks. Outgrown baby teeth are gross. Harkening my inner fairy, too, is not necessarily in my fathering wheelhouse. But, it’s an important rite of passage for my kids, which makes it an important moment for me. And, with these few small improvements, I can even say I like it.
dadcraft Pro Tip: In an (over-thinking) effort to avoid raising suspicion by using my normal script, I invented an excellent, cryptic handwriting style. It’s exactly how fairies would write if fairies were real, cared to write, and decided to write at a size legible to humans. It’s also a painfully slow way to write. Especially late at night when one is scrambling to carry on this tradition, dead tired but knowing that an expectant kid will peek under her or his pillow first thing in the morning to see what’s been delivered. The dadcraft Pro Tip? If you too are over-thinking and worried about your kid recognizing your handwriting, don’t develop a brand new way to write. Just use your non-dominant hand to chicken scratch. Or (I just thought of this) write tiny, tiny, tiny as if you were such a little person that you could fly into people’s houses in a cute-not-totally-creepy fashion.
The night of a tooth fairy visit, consider telling a tooth-centric bedtime story … or something a bit more fantastical. And don’t miss Dave Strunk’s wisdom about the importance of the bedtime routine.