Duncan is engrossed in a book. Callum is bored. He wanders around the room looking for trouble and then he sees it. A toy trumpet lying in the corner of the room. He snatches it up and pops it in his mouth and blows hard. A loud honk disturbs the peace. Callum smiles and honks again. Duncan looks up, irritation written right across his face. Callum sees this look and deliberately honks again and again and again…

“Stop making that awful noise,” Duncan demands as he puts his hands over his ears. But Callum doesn’t listen. He marches around the room making as much noise as he possibly can.

Finally, Duncan can stand it no longer. “If you don’t stop blowing, I’ll take that trumpet off you!” he threatens.

“Just you try,” dares Callum as he hops over to the opposite side of the room.

But Duncan has long legs. In two strides he reaches his pesky brother and grabs hold of the offending instrument. Callum squirms and wriggles and keeps his teeth tightly clenched around the mouth of the trumpet. A battle is on. Duncan pulls and twists and all of a sudden he falls backwards, trumpet in hand. He has won and a look of triumph spreads across his face.

But only for a moment.

Callum’s face has crumpled. Tears come to his eyes and he cries, “My tooth! My tooth! You knocked out my tooth. My first loose tooth!” He opens his mouth wide and, sure enough, there is a gap in his lower jaw.

“It was going to come out anyway,” reasons Duncan.

“But I swallowed it! It’s gone. What will I give the tooth fairy?”

Triumph quickly turns into contrition. In an instant, Duncan has forgotten how Callum provoked him. All he can think about is the distraught and disappointed look on his little brother’s face. ”I’m really sorry, Callum. I didn’t mean to knock out your tooth.”

 And then Callum replies, “That’s OK. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have continued blowing. I shouldn’t have been such a nuisance.”

The brothers hug and make peace and all is forgiven.

But there still remains one problem. What is Callum going to give the tooth fairy? He’d been looking forward to putting his tooth under his pillow. He would have woken up the next morning to a shiny dollar coin. Now he has no tooth.

“How about you draw a picture of a tooth,” I suggest. “You could write a letter to the tooth fairy and explain where the real tooth went.”

A smile appears on Callum’s face. He wipes away his tears and runs off for some paper and coloured pencils. Soon the two boys are sitting with their heads close together, at the kitchen table, working on the best-ever drawing of a tooth.

Unfortunately, we saw nothing of Callum’s second tooth either. We were travelling on holiday in the van at the exact moment it decided to come out.

“My tooth has come out! Oh no! I’ve dropped it. It’s somewhere on the floor.”

We stopped the car and took out all the bags that had been stowed in the back of the vehicle under the boys’ feet. It was all to no avail. The tooth had vanished. It had gone forever. Another drawing for the tooth fairy.

There was still one more problem to overcome. Would the tooth fairy remember to come and exchange the drawing for a coin? The tooth fairy had a reputation of being very unreliable. How many times would a child whisk back his pillow with anticipation and excitement, only to find his tooth still lying there in the bed. No coin anywhere in sight.

I have to say, modern tooth fairies aren’t as good as the ones I knew when I was a child. No, my childhood tooth fairy never failed to do her duty. She was a first class expert in her field.

Not like my children’s. Their fairy sometimes went to bed without completing her work. She’d awake in the middle of the night remembering with horror, a job not yet done. And then she would have to creep about the house trying to put things right. Other times she forgot completely and the result was a very disappointed child the next morning. “Perhaps the tooth fairy had too many teeth to collect last night,” I’d suggest. “I’m sure she’ll get here tonight.” (I hope.)

After a number of disappointments, my children were getting discouraged and the tooth fairy was becoming stressed out. Something had to be done.

“How much does the tooth fairy leave you every time she collects a tooth?” I asked, a plan forming in my mind.

“A dollar.”

“Well, if you sold me your teeth, I’ll pay you two dollars,” I said, hoping the offer sounded attractive. I really wanted to dismiss the tooth fairy. Tell her she was out of a job. We’d had enough of her unreliable service. “Please don’t stop by anymore, tooth fairy. My children no longer want to leave their teeth under their pillows. They’re selling them to me.”

Thankfully my children knew a good deal when they saw one. They were convinced and soon everyone was happy especially the very relieved mother.

I sometimes wonder if I have deprived my children of some happy, magical childhood memories by sacking the tooth fairy. Think of all those cute little fairy dolls and pixies, the ones with the special pockets just the right size to slip a tooth or a coin into. My children never owned one of those. They had no need of a little tooth guardian. My children never went to sleep dreaming of a beautiful, fluttering, tiny fairy. They didn’t imagine her flying into their bedroom, in the quiet of the night. They never mused over such mystifying questions such as, “How does a fairy get into a locked house?” Or, “How can she carry such a heavy coin?” They never laid snuggled under their quilts anticipating that exciting moment, when night would be over, and they could reach under their pillows and draw out the prize.

Those milestone moments, when little teeth come loose and depart little mouths, could have been accompanied by magical memories. But they were not. They are remembered associated with a down-to-earth monetary transaction: one tooth exchanged for one coin.

A week or so ago, Gemma-Rose’s first tooth came out. She was watching a movie, not even thinking about teeth. One moment it was attached to her jaw, the next it was loose in her mouth. So easy. She was delighted. She hurried to find me and then stretched out her hand to reveal the tiny little pearl of a tooth. Her smile stretched from ear to ear.

“Do you want to sell it to me for $2?”

“Will you keep it…or throw it away?” Gemma-Rose asked.

I thought about this. I had intended to keep all the teeth I bought from my children. But of all those teeth traded for $2 each, not one of them remains. I put them in various places, ‘safe’ places but I can’t find a single one. Where did they go?

And then I have an idea. A wild and magical idea. Perhaps the tooth fairy came after all. Perhaps she ignored her dismissal notice. Perhaps she found all those little white, baby, milk teeth, all the teeth my children have been losing over the years. Perhaps she whisked them all away.

“Get a zip lock bag,” I say to Gemma-Rose. “And a small scrap of paper.”

The tooth goes into the bag, together with a note: “Gemma-Rose’s first tooth, 31st December 2010”. And then I hand over the payment.

This is one tooth the tooth fairy is not going to get. I am going to keep this one, keep it forever. I really am. The first loose tooth of my last born child. My very last opportunity to save a first tooth.

And just to make sure it doesn’t disappear, I am going to put that tooth, in its zip lock bag, in my memory box. Perhaps I shall tape it to the bottom so it can’t fall out. If the tooth fairy wants this precious little tooth, she will have to fly away with the whole heavy box. And she could never do that, could she? That thought is just too ridiculous.






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  1. I lost all of my kids baby teeth too despite the fact they were in safe keeping places. taping it to a box is a good idea though.

    I didn't know that you write apostolate of hannahs tears too. Wow. i love that blog despite the fact i never comment on it.

    You see, I lost a full term (40 weeks) little girl in 2000. She will be 11 this February.

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  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Kim. I am sorry to hear you lost a daughter. Although she is all grown up in heaven, she is the same age as my Thomas. Nice to think of them together with God. I have only just been invited to be an author for the Hannah's Tears blog. I feel it is a great honour. Probably I will post HT stories here as well. Yes, it is a beautiful blog for all of us who grieve. May God bless you.

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  3. What a well written story! My first has only lost her first 2 teeth and the tooth fairy has already been unreliable here. The second tooth fell out while we were staying out of town; it waited 2 nights at the friend's house, came through the mail and spend a whole extra night under her pillow at home too. The gold dollar coin was patiently waited for though.

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  4. What a great story, Janet! I shall have to remember it and steal it for one of my children's stories!

    Thank you for stopping and making a comment. God bless.

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