Traditions that surround losing a tooth, I’m sure, have been around ever since kids started losing teeth. Well, maybe not quite that long. I doubt Eve made a big fuss when Cain lost his first tooth. Actually, she probably screamed in horror over that little bloody incisor [concluding that the only obvious explanation is that he must have contracted a strange illness out in the fields and the rendering of body parts one by one must just be the beginning of the end]. Or maybe that wasn’t the way it happened at all, she was probably a much more chill mom than I would have been. Either way, she couldn’t have possibly known what the whole losing a tooth thing meant – or marked – in the life of her child…
Of course, it didn’t take long to figure out that this event was very normal and in fact one of the first rites of passage a child experiences on the journey towards adulthood. It also didn’t take long for cultures to form rituals around it (because creating rituals is our favorite). One of the earliest recorded ways people celebrated this event was to throw the tooth into the sun. Other traditions included offering the tooth as a sacrifice to a rat in hopes that the child’s adult teeth would grow in as strong as a rodent’s, tossing the tooth into the fire, or having it swallowed by the mother or child (um, negative).
The tradition of the “Tooth-Fairy” didn’t appear until much later (1920s) and is uniquely American. I bet it was sort of like Elf On The Shelf is today… something created in the sincere name of helping parents make a common childhood experience more special and exciting – yet somehow simultaneously and inadvertently luring them into a trap. I have no problem with the Tooth Fairy. Really, she’s great. The Elf doll is fine too if you are into that sort of thing. If it were up to me though, I think I would have cast my ballot for throwing the teeth into the sun and that being the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sentimental when it comes to my kids growing up… but I usually err toward the parenting philosophy of the fewer imaginary entities I’m responsible for keeping afloat, the better. BECAUSE I WILL BLOW IT. I’ve already had to come up with excuses for the Tooth Fairy 4 out of 7 times. Ironically, I have no stake in whether or not my kids think Santa or the Easter Bunny is real. Probably because there’s no chance I’ll ever forget to set out presents on Christmas morning or Easter baskets on Resurrection Day so I’m happy to take the credit. There is however a 90% chance I’ll forget to put money under a pillow. But it’s the fairy’s fault!
Thankfully, kids are gullible, and lets be honest, money under a pillow (even if it’s a day late) has the ability to right a lot of wrongs. So if you ever happen to find yourself woken up to, “mom… my tooth is still under my pillow” …
Here’s a list of emergency excuses that might help buy you one more night to play Tooth Fairy
1. “The tooth fairy is really tiny buddy and there are so many teeth she has to get to that sometimes it takes her 2 to 3 days.”
2. “Oh, your tooth was in a ziplock? I forgot to tell you that the Tooth Fairy can’t get to it like that… maybe tonight try taking it out of the bag and putting it under your pillow and see if that works.”
3. *Child wakes up and can’t find tooth under the pillow (or any money)… “Okay, let me go back in and look for you.” (Mom finds tooth on the floor, grabs it and slides money in a different spot). “Oh here it is! Looks like she just put it under your little pillow this time.”
4. “You stayed up reading until almost 10… I meant to tell you that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t come past 9:30. It’s okay, I’m sure she’ll come tomorrow.”
Anyone else not the best at pulling off the Tooth-Fairy role? Or do you have a totally different tradition for when your kids lose a tooth… I’d love to hear your ideas!