Monday, December 7, 2015

Faith in the Tooth Fairy

It all started innocently enough. A 6-year-old girl’s baby tooth fell out at school, only to become misplaced before the end of the day. She was sure the tooth fairy could not be real, as a result, or so she thought.

Isabel was a grade 1 student, having fun with her friends in the playground at school recess, when she suddenly lost her primary upper front tooth. The teacher supervising the situation recognized the importance of this tooth and placed it in an empty film canister for safekeeping. However, by the end of the school day, the canister was missing, and boy, was Isabel ever upset.

By the time Isabel arrived home, she was distraught and hard to console. In her anger, she said that she did not really believe in the tooth fairy anymore. Her father, a local dentist, promised Isabel that he would look into the matter and talk directly with the tooth fairy about this situation.

The tooth fairy told Isabel’s father that she indeed had been in the neighbourhood earlier and had picked up the tooth—but was going to drop by later that night to give Isabel a special thank-you gift. Isabel’s father told this to his daughter, and she went to bed happier but suspicious.

The tooth fairy went to the Southwestern U.S. to visit the Hopi Indians and returned with a small piece of polished rose quartz with a hand-carved unicorn on it. That evening, late at night, she left the gift under Isabel’s pillow with a little note of apology.

The next morning, Isabel woke up, her faith in the tooth fairy restored, excited to have a gift she wanted to share with her world around her.

This fun little tale really did happen. Isabel is my real daughter, and this really did happen to her at school. I had attended a conference in Arizona the previous year and bought little $1 souvenirs home, thinking that there would come a time when they might be appropriate little gifts (I am a bit of a pack rat)—and sure enough, some months later, the events described above unfolded, and this little fun tale restored the faith in the tooth fairy for my little girl. (She’s now 19 years of age and no longer believes in the tooth fairy, sadly.)

Myths, legends, fairies, superheroes, and more are all fodder for the fertile mind, allowing us to stay grounded in the face of things we don’t understand, in a world that is big and scary. The tooth fairy simply adds something fun and wonderful to the mythos, particularly for young minds.

In my household, we did not emphasize money as “payment” for the teeth our children lost. Sometimes, they received a single coin, sometimes chocolate “money,” and sometimes small gifts like the rock described above. We made it fun and kept it that way for as long as possible.

May the tooth fairy live long and prosper in your world, too (especially now, as we head into the season dominated by wondrous cultural icons like Santa Claus, flying reindeer, Jack Frost, and more).

Warm regards,
Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD

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