Dear Tooth Fairy,
I apologize for not writing sooner. Don’t worry, teeth are dropping left and right around here. We are all brushing and flossing, too. All is well. But here’s the thing: We don’t do, well, you, in our house. It’s not that we don’t celebrate the joys of childhood. I mean, Santa makes his regularly scheduled stop each December, and stuffed animals and trusty dogs most definitely keep scary monsters successfully at bay. It’s just that we try to teach our kids different lessons. We teach them about the value of a dollar and working hard to earn it. My husband and I both have jobs that sometimes take us away from our family. Our children know and accept that sometimes this is part of being a grownup. They know that money doesn’t just appear in our bank account.
We also try to share the upside to earning money. When we went to Disney this past summer, our kids knew that we had saved since they were born to go on that great adventure. When a gigantic playscape showed up in the backyard for their birthday, both kids separately said to me that they knew we’d worked really hard at our jobs to buy such a great present for them.
They’re six, so our explanations of money aren’t particularly detailed. We aren’t discussing retirement plans or the current state of the stock market. We always let them know that they don’t need to worry about the basics—Mom and Dad have them covered. But we also talk about what it would cost to get that cool new toy they see on TV or the rocket ship my son recently asked me to buy so he could go to space (I had to turn the calculator on my phone sideways to fit in all those zeros). We try to put these things in perspective for them.
This past Christmas, we started a new tradition. My parents collected spare change all year and then divided it up into two tins, one for each kid, much like my grandmother did for me when I was a child. One of my favorite childhood Christmas morning memories is sitting on my living room floor, counting change from my own tin, and munching on red Twizzlers. Tooth Fairy, I won’t lie when I say my heart warmed to watch my own kids do the same. They asked me to identify each coin and asked how many of them make a dollar. A happy memory from my childhood repeated itself with the next generation; the kids thought it was all great fun; and we got to learn a bit about math. It was like a magical trifecta! That just doesn’t happen from a wrinkled dollar hurriedly stuffed under a pillow in the middle of the night.
So when those first teeth started getting wiggly, we watched and waited and jiggled them along until they finally fell out. Then we celebrated like crazy. We talked about baby teeth and grownup teeth. We talked about how important these new big teeth are because they will (hopefully) be there for the rest of their lives. What we didn’t talk about is how putting a tooth under a pillow would magically turn it into cold, hard cash. I mean, come on—it’s kind of like clipping your toenails and then saving them for some kind of reward. It’s pretty gross when you think about it.
So I’m sorry, Tooth Fairy, but you can skip right by this house. We won’t be writing you letters anytime soon or stashing our discarded teeth in cute little pillows. Please don’t hold this against us.
But, if you don’t mind, would you please let Santa know his cookies and milk will be ready and waiting in December?