Long before I had the privilege of tip-toeing into a sleeping child’s room late at night and swapping out a tooth that had fallen out earlier in the day with shiny coins, more than one been-there-done-that mum had imparted to me that eventually, no matter how sentimental your intentions, there comes a day when you stumble across a stash of your kids’ baby teeth, wonder what the heck you’re keeping them for and toss them out.
Naturally, I didn’t believe a word of it.
Yet half a dozen or so years – and presumably 40 visits from the Tooth Fairy, between my two daughters – later, the teeth, they are everywhere. Ziploc bags holding individual incisors fall out of the kitchen cabinet when I reach for the first-aid kit. Some are marked with the child’s name and date, some not. Similar bags that never got properly stashed show up at the bottom of dresser drawers or old purses. Sometimes there aren’t even bags.
My older daughter, now 12, once found a free-floating molar in the drawer of my old home office desk. She suspiciously asked me what it might be doing there. I changed the subject and whisked it away, tucking it into the cabinet with so many others.
When should you break the news to your kids about Santa? We discuss on This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
The thing is that by the time the Tooth Fairy made her last flight to our house, she’d made her fair share of bloopers. She’d gotten off to a strong start, of course, as Tooth Fairies almost always do. In the early days, she set to work attaching coins to clever little notes, sometimes leaving a sprinkling of sparkling glitter near the windowsill, never missing a beat. But even the best Tooth Fairies wear down after a while.
There were nights she was distracted by the stress of her day job, nearly forgetting to show up until just before the alarm clock was set to go off the next morning, leaving little time to do more than make the swap and stow away her treasure in the nearest hiding spot to be properly catalogued later. There were nights she’d been sick or had maybe had a wee bit too much chardonnay. There were nights she took loans from the kids’ own piggy banks because she was short on cash (she paid those back, right?).
Then there was the one infamous night she forgot to show up at all, but then managed to pull a fast one – after the kid had already gone to school – that was convincing enough to seem as if the money had just been overlooked in the morning. Which is to say, it’s really no wonder she fell behind on properly curating her collection.
And yet, when I’m fiddling around for a chequebook and come across bags of individual baby teeth, I can’t yet bring myself to just get rid of them. Marie Kondo would ask me if they “spark joy.” And in a way, they kind of do – or they used to anyway.