When I was little I asked my denture-wearing grandfather if he had fallen asleep with his head under the pillow. I thought I was quite clever. Imagine waking up without teeth and a small pile of coins in their place! As you know, teeth under pillows are meant for the fairies.
I still remember putting my own teeth under my pillow, and the wonder and anticipation of what I would find in the morning. I also remember when the magic came to an end. After sleeping on the same tooth for several nights I finally said to my mother, "Here's the tooth, can I have just have my money now."
Then there was the family down the road who's children claimed to receive $10 per tooth, which in the 80s was a substantial sum. I don't know who was more upset at this claim, the neighbourhood children or their parents. Everyone knew that the fairy brought a quarter.
My own children now participate in the tradition. Due to inflation their tooth fairy brings $1, which in Canada is a gold coloured coin affectionately referred to as a Loonie. When my eldest lost her first tooth (by extraction), she misplaced it before she got it home. That started a pen pal relationship with her tooth fairy Dentina, as she had to write a letter explaining why the tooth was not under the pillow.
I swore to myself I would never forget to put the coin under my sleeping child's pillow. And then it happened. Apparently if the fairy forgets, the next night you get double.
Both my children lost teeth in the last week. My daughter lost one first. She put it under her pillow. Late that night I realized that I didn't have a loonie. Neither did my spouse. I had a toonie ($2.00 coin) but my spouse pointed out that if we do it once, the price of teeth will permanently go up. So I searched the house: under the couch cushions, on top of the drier, behind the toilet, until I had a dollar in coins. I put the whole lot in a sandwich bag under her pillow. When she awoke the next morning we could hear her laughing, "The tooth fairy left me a bag of money," she exclaimed. The fun, the laughter; the world is planted in pennies.
The next day my son lost a tooth. Of course we still didn't have a loonie. So Dentina wrote him a teeny tiny note, "Sorry, Sam but I'm a little short," snort, "I'll bring your coin tomorrow night."
Maybe we should have chosen a different tooth tradition that doesn't require having coins on hand, such as throwing your tooth on the roof, or burying it by a tree. But in keeping with the theme of the world being planted in pennies, here is another example of where a small coin can be of great value. It can bring a little magic and wonder. It signifies the milestones of growing up and leaving behind, like tiny baby teeth, the little bits of childhood. Perhaps that is why the tradition continues. Once the teeth start to go, you know that the days of innocent wonder are numbered, and a small chip of copper or silver can connect parent and child to the days of magic. I think that the kids know the truth, but they like to play along, and I am kind of dreading the day they say, "Mom, just give me the money."
So that's my two cents on the tooth fairy. What are your family tooth traditions. A penny for your thoughts?