When my daughter’s tooth fell out last month, she placed it carefully in her wooden tooth fairy box on her beside table.
I must remember to swap it for some coins when I go to bed, I said to myself at the time.
An hour later, when I kissed her goodnight, I reminded myself again to get some money out of my purse.
The next morning, my daughter came running down stairs hollering accusations at her sister for stealing her tooth fairy money.
Oh oh. A lead weight sat in my belly. The tooth fairy had forgotten her duty.
“Stop for a second,” I said to my irate child. “How do you know your sister took the money?”
“Because it’s not there!”
“Is your tooth still there?”
“Are you sure?”
“Go and check. Maybe the tooth fairy was too busy to come last night.”
She grabbed my hand, dragged me upstairs to her bedroom, pointed to her tooth fairy box and said, “See, it’s not there.”
I peered into the small box. Crap. Where could it be?
As I replaced the box on the bedside table, it rattled. Her tooth was in the box. Thank God! I lifted the tooth out of the box between my two fingers and held it up.
My daughter smiled. She pointed to the newly installed fish tank on the bookshelf adjacent to her bedside table. “Maybe the tooth fairy was scared of the fish.”
“Maybe she fell in the tank and drowned!” She peered into the fish tank searching for a corpse.
“I doubt it. Fairies can probably swim.”
“I only left a small gap between my bedroom door last night. I normally leave it open. She wouldn’t have been able to get it in… But it was still open this wide.” She held her fingers a few centimetres apart. “Tooth fairies are small. She could fit through that.”
“Maybe she didn’t see your tooth,” I said. “It was camouflaged inside the box.”
My daughter took one look at the pale yellow wood of the box and obviously decided it was time to right things. A yellow tooth would not do. She marched to the bathroom and brushed that tooth with such rigour that she may have scrubbed all the enamel off. Then she put it back in the box for a second attempt at enticing the tooth fairy.
The following morning, my daughter excitedly read aloud the note left behind by the tooth fairy:
“I’m sorry I was late collecting your tooth. I’ve been SO BUSY. You wouldn’t believe how many children across the world lost their teeth in January, particularly in Europe. I think it has something to do with chewing on hard candy canes at Christmas.”
My daughter counted the coins in her fairy box. “Ah! I got more than last time!”
“Because you cleaned your tooth this time,” her sister said.
I nodded. “Must be.” Of course, the extra cash had nothing to do with Mummy guilt.
“I’m going to make sure I clean my teeth really well every night,” my daughter said.
As it turns out, the forgetful tooth fairy situation turned into a win-win scenario for all.