The Trooth about the Tooth Fairy

My grandson hunched over a piece of paper, his small fingers busy writing.

“Are you making up a story?”

“Nah. Writing a letter.”

“To whom?”

“The Tooth Fairy. She’s late.” He shook his head. “But I better edit this before I put it under my pillow.”

Words to warm an English-major grandma’s heart.

However, his efforts inspired me to wonder: Where did this Tooth Fairy person/custom originate?

Possibly with Norse culture. Warriors paid offspring for their baby teeth, carrying them into battle as good luck charms. Viking kids apparently made a real killing, much more than the $3.50 – 3.70 per tooth received by today’s little capitalists.

But twenty-first-century children benefit in other ways. For example, girls can visit websites maintained by their personal Tooth Fairies that feature games, cartoons, castles, and Tooth Fairy stores.

If their age, I’d deluge my online Tooth Fairy with letters, love and charges on my parents’ Visas. As a Viking child, I gladly would have done my patriotic duty. However, no Vikings, Internets or parental credit cards existed during my era. I knew only that the shadowy Tooth Fairy appeared an insomniac.

Did she also bring new teeth to baby siblings, “gifts” that morphed them — and the rest of our family — into insomniacs? I considered lying in wait and firing pillows at her.

Besides, she showed up late — or not at all — when money was tight at our house. When I did discover a shiny dime under my pillow and bought a giant PAYDAY, though, I appreciated anew the Tooth Fairy’s efforts.

The irony of buying candy with Tooth Fairy money was lost on me and my friends. But we deduced other important Tooth Fairy principles, including: the bigger the teeth, the lower our returns. By the time we lost primary molars, the Tooth Fairy had deserted us for younger devotees with handmade Tooth Fairy pillows. The dentist barred us from his treasure chest, even if we didn’t yell.

This permanent-tooth thing was overrated.

Little did we know that soon, instead of raking in dimes, we’d pay more than the cost of a whole bag of PAYDAY candy bars and receive root canals in return.

Lou the Tooth Fairy of YouTube fame briefly renewed my hopes for adults. A balding, sixtyish man dressed in a pink tutu, Lou hands cooperative patients cash. I could handle that — plus back pay since age 12.

Sadly, Lou appears only when paid to do ads. I like my grandson’s Tooth Fairies better. Hardworking and crazy busy, they would appreciate help. As an honorary Tooth Fairy, I also could write my grandson a reply.

But I’d better edit it twice.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did the Tooth Fairy ever visit you?

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