The Tooth Fairy, the Oracle, and the Dad
After an exciting and tooth-drama filled couple of weeks, yesterday Grandma L. (the kindergarten teacher’s mother), helped Alexa pull out her very loose tooth. All students in the class get a little plastic treasure box to store their fallen teeth in until they get home. Alexa ran to my office (I work at the school) to show me the treasure and couldn’t contain her excitement at the chance to create a tooth envelope for the Tooth fairy.
The Tooth Fairy holds a special place in Alexa’s heart. It’s always been her favorite over the other imaginary folks who visit us. Alexa took great care to make a perfect envelope for her tooth and to keep the prize money safe after the exchange. She placed the package under her pillow and recounted all the other times that the Tooth Fairy came through with cash. With reassurances that the sun would soon appear, she eventually fell asleep.
Meanwhile, Dad watched TV while waiting for Alexa to fall deeply asleep. The next thing I knew, sunrise came and went, and I hadn’t moved from the sofa. I raced to get the money under her pillow before Alexa woke up disappointed, or worse, caught me in the act. I made it, patted myself on the back, and started the day.
Finally, Alexa woke up, came into the kitchen and started eating breakfast. I asked if the Tooth Fairy visited, which brought a sad look to her face. I asked what was wrong. ‘Dad, can I talk to you?’ Alexa asked with concern in her voice. She brought me to her bedroom and handed me the envelope.
‘Why didn’t the Tooth Fairy take my tooth?’ Alexa clearly felt that she’d been slighted. Ugh. How could I forget the tooth? Now I had to get into this ridiculous story.
I took a deep breath and began my lame attempt at a recovery. “Well, I’m positive that she’ll be back for it! You know that she needs all of those kids’ teeth to build her kingdom, right? Why else would she pay so many kids for all of those teeth if she didn’t really need them? She’s going to be bummed when she realizes that she paid for a tooth and then forgot to bring it back to the kingdom! How about we write a note on the envelope and leave it for her to get tonight?”
Of course that all had to be said in one breath because I didn’t intend to let a discussion happen about anything except for getting the tooth back under the pillow.
Alexa, who is almost always a trooper, agreed as long as I was the one who would write the note, because she didn’t know how to explain all that to the Tooth Fairy. Perfect! I wrote out the note, and got it ready to stick under the pillow.
Then came the questions.
Q: When will she come back? A: Tonight. She’ll be anxious to get it as soon as possible.
Q: Why doesn’t she come in the day? A: Well…I think that she only has powers at night, because the sun takes them away somehow…kind of like a vampire, ya know? So she might die if she’s going out in the daytime. And besides all that, everyone would see her in the daytime. Night time is much easier to sneak around without being seen!
Of that whole bad answer, the only part that Alexa heard? “So she might die if she’s going out in the daytime.“
Q: She dies! Like really dead? So she can’t go out in the daytime at all? A: Nope!
Q: Then how did she come in the daytime that one time, a long time ago?
Ugh, again. It took a minute or two of stalling before I remembered. When Alexa lost her first tooth, a little over a year ago (10 years in parent time), I fell asleep before swapping the tooth for the cash. We had to distract Alexa while the Tooth Fairy made a late delivery–which happened during daylight. I decided to plead ignorance on the intricacies of fairy life.
A: Well, Lex, I don’t really know how it works. That does seem strange that she could go out in the daytime then and not die, but not now. Maybe there are some special rules that I don’t know about.
“Then you should go to the ‘intranets’ and find that out,” Alexa demanded. That is why I’m here now typing this story, because I’m supposed to be searching the great-source-of-all-knowledge for the reason that the Tooth Fairy defied fairy rules and came out in the daytime for Alexa’s first tooth and didn’t die. And, if that miracle happened once, why can’t it happen again?
Even though I work with kids and computers all day, it didn’t hit me until that moment, just how much faith, certainty, and power that children ascribe to concept of the internet. To Alexa, it’s a portal to an Oracle. When I was 6, the best that I could have hoped for was a promise that the next time that the library was open, someone would check out what the encyclopedia said about something. But we’d seen encyclopedias, and they may have helped with writing papers, they certainly weren’t a source for all knowledge. Besides, the chance of someone even being willing to make a trip to the library to pretend to look up the Tooth Fairy was pretty slim.
The thing is, she’s actually close to being right on. The only thing that keeps it from being the source-of-all-knowledge, is that it’s also the dump for all that is untrue. If faced with everything, both good and bad, what do you need more than anything else? Discernment. We probably don’t spend enough time time teaching and learning the most important skill to have when you’re drowning in information. That’s a tangent for another day.
So, I finally did the research and found out that there really aren’t strict guidelines on the Tooth Fairy. I can make up whatever I want and be ok. The coolest thing that I learned? Vikings paid their children for teeth and then made them into necklaces for strength in battle. Is it true? I don’t really care; it’s a great story.
In the end, I’m going to tell Alexa that the Oracle said that the Tooth Fairy came in the daytime before because she was probably still in the area, visiting the mountains, or something. This time, she is over on the other side of the world, maybe near our old home in the Philippines, sneaking into houses there. I’ll have to admit that I was wrong about the Tooth Fairy dying in the daylight. I’ll lose a bit of status and the Oracle will gain a little. So goes my fall from greatness.