Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lessons to be learned from the tooth fairy



     The going rate for a visit from the tooth fairy can be as much as twenty dollars.
     Parenting decisions are tricky. Gun control and political affiliation are downright pale in comparison.
     Lesson No. 1—Raising children requires a fine balancing act. You swing and sway like wiggling free of a loose tooth. You hope you get it right.
    There is no training manual. Sick to your personal belief system. You won’t lose control of Christmas if you set your parameters. Likewise, you won’t permit the tooth fairy to worm her way into your financial budget either.
     (For the record, the results are still out on the tooth fairy’s gender— she, he or neutral?)
     Realistic parents express overwhelming shock at the twenty- dollar tooth. They wonder if inflation has risen sharply since their own childhoods?
     Lesson No. 2—There are things in life that can be controlled and maintained at a consistent level, and tooth fairy expenditure is one of them.
     Could it be that the tooth fairy instinctively knows to hit deeper into the pockets of suburbanites? I suppose if you look up into the sky you will see more control tower landings and take-offs per hour per fairy with a larger haul of loot closer to a populated area.
     Still, I firmly believe that the tooth fairy enjoys the uncrowded sky of rural areas. She can practice her skills, and float into a single bedroom window without requiring extra holding time.
      Lesson No. 3—Not everything is equal.
     On average, an undercover night fairy operation ranges anywhere from five dollars down to fifty cents, which leaves the amount to personal discretion.
     Starting at a young age, kids talk with one another. They make comparisons. That old saying, “the grass is greener…” should remind parents to reply, “If so, then move to your friend’s house, and tell us how you like it after a week.” 
      Lesson No. 4— Life is more about the anticipation of events than the actual event itself. It’s a process.
     In the case of a tooth fairy visit, obtaining money should not be the objective at hand. If that’s the motive, there will never be enough money to satisfy.
     Often a girl will make elaborate preparations for a visit by sprinkling glitter on her own pillow and positioning her stuffed animals for the grand event. She leaves a note for the fairy, and not surprisingly, she receives a precious handwritten note in return. There has been creativity put in of a personal nature.
     It’s not only girls. A second grade boy came up to me in the classroom one year after a sleepless night under the influence of the tooth fairy. He pulled out of his pocket a tiny enamel tooth attached to a new GI Joe figure left for him.
     A 2011 study found that American children receive $2.60 per tooth on average. It’s rather a get in and get out sort of event. No mess. No fuss. You don’t have to serve a snack, or stop for idle chatter.
     Many moms and dads tell me that it is popular to give out a gold coin (Susan B. Anthony), and they do make a distinction between the first tooth and the rest on an equal sliding scale.
     Lesson No. 5—Grandmas and grandpas can trump anything, including tooth fairy payout. Need any more be said on that topic.    Leave relatives a little slack to put additional wisdom and spoiling into the raising of your kids.  
     Lesson No. 6—You should always prepare for the inevitable. Life is not predictable.
     Teeth fall out twice in one week. A mom stocks up on quarters by making more frequent trips through the carwash during tooth season.
     Another mom says that her kids are fine with I.O.Y. notes within a day or two since they have never known any differently. She felt like a terrible mother the first time. After that, her kids go along with the game of waiting for the perfect night filled with stars and a bright moon.
     Lesson No. 7—Collecting and saving is a good life habit that begins in childhood.
     A mother labels and saves her children’s teeth in plastic bags. It is a rite of passage for mom, too, and perhaps, a sentimental one.
     A child collects her own teeth in a gift box bedded on a fluffy cotton ball lining. She doesn’t want a tooth fairy stopover.
     Multiply twenty baby, or primary teeth, by the amount per tooth, and a child could start a special savings account.      
     Lesson No. 8—Spreading love in starting new family traditions is a forever memory.
     Above all, bring on the smile-o-meter and have family bonding with the loss of teeth. It calls for a celebration. More importantly, you are providing comfort as part of growing up.    
     Lesson No. 9—While parents are often unsure of themselves when promoting the fiction of the tooth fairy, children are resilient by nature and come to their own conclusions all in due time. It’s no different than the Santa Claus and Easter bunny myths.
     Lesson No. 10—No matter what your age, love the simple innocence on a child’s face when one comes up to you jumping up and down waiting to show you their new toothless grin—You could be stopped on a ski slop to explore this wonder with a little kid. It could be in the dentist’s office waiting room.