Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pondering the Tooth Fairy

"Other than a dimple
in a cute little chin,
What's more adorable
than a toothless grin?"

Emmy lost two teeth!

With the first tooth, Emmy and I were both in shock. She kept telling me, "Mommy, I lost a tooth." and I know I nodded and said something not very enthusiastic like "Really?" and continued to fold and put away the laundry until I finally tuned in and realized that she was serious and in her hand was her teeny, tiny tooth. On the inside, I was completely freaking out (she's not yet five years old)! On the outside, I celebrated by taking her up in my arms and dancing the 'Lost First Tooth Dance' around the house.

Emmy's Daddy and I had not yet devised a plan for the whole Tooth Fairy thing, but we quickly got our acts together. Emmy placed her tooth in a little box and placed it carefully under her pillow. She awoke to find a spinning toothbrush that she could decorate with stickers, animal flossers, and money under her pillow!

Truth be told, I had a really hard time with the loss of this first tooth. I was just not prepared. There are so many milestones during the first two and a half years of life and then things just kind of level off. Now I am realizing how much Emmy has grown these past couple of years...she feeds herself, dresses herself, brushes and does her hair, brushes her teeth, plays independently, shares with others, draws detailed pictures, writes words, speaks clearly, uses a vast vocabulary, initiates conversations and so much more!!! Emmy is just so sure of herself. With the loss of the teeth and her upcoming fifth birthday, I am certainly not feeling very sure of myself, but all I have to do is look in her twinkling eyes to know that everything is right where it is supposed to be and happening at the exact right moment!

As with most things in parenting, the tooth fairy story was thought of on the spot. With a bit more research on customs pertaining to tooth loss, this story has been refined and continues to build as more and more questions are asked by Emmy.

"How does the tooth fairy get into the house?"
"What does she do with the teeth?"
"Why does she leave money?"
"How does she carry all of the teeth?"
"Can you see the Tooth Fairy?"
"Where does the Tooth Fairy live?"

Worldwide there is much folklore, interesting tales, stories, fables, myths, and legends about the customs and beliefs surrounding lost baby teeth. The ancient Egyptians believed the sun made teeth strong, so they threw lost teeth towards the sun. Centuries ago in Europe, parents ground children's teeth into a powder and ate it to protect their children from witches. And one of my favorites...In Mexico, the little Tooth Mouse would take baby teeth and leave a coin in payment. He would use the teeth to replace the ones he lost from chewing on tough stuff.

With another tooth wiggling its way out of Emmy's mouth, I shared with her that the Tooth Fairy spoke to Santa Claus about her lost tooth, as well as her wiggly one, so he left her an extra special gift under the Christmas tree - a tooth fairy pillow! Moments later, as Emmy bit into her chocolate Santa on a stick, out popped her second tooth! It was so wonderful to have a special place to put the tooth. The pillow was rushed upstairs and placed under her bed pillows. The next morning the tooth was replaced with a shiny coin, some dollars and a bit of fairy dust left behind (glitter).

I am still searching for a book to share with Emmy about the tooth fairy. There are quite a few out there, but the messages given are not the ones that I want to share with Emmy. For example, a tooth fairy that keeps the teeth to make a necklace or adorn her throne or build her castle doesn't follow my story. I've explained to her that the tooth fairy collects the teeth, polishes them and tucks them inside the gums of brand new babies. The tooth fairy leaves behind a bit of fairy dust where the baby tooth used to be to help the permanent tooth grow healthy and strong. This story has really helped Emmy with her daily brushing as she wants her teeth to be well cared for so that the new baby will have pretty white teeth. She has also decided that every time she brushes, the fairy dust is pushed into her gums to ensure a healthy new tooth will grow just for her.

As I continue to search for a "just right" book to share with Emmy and with you, as well as help to honor this important milestone, I'll leave you with this poem - Emmy's favorite at the moment.

In this pocket you will find
A teensy, tiny tooth of mine.
So while I sleep where
dreams are made,
Let's see if you
Can make a trade.

In this pocket
I will lay,
the little tooth I lost today.
Please, dear fairy,
tonight as I sleep
leave me a coin.
My tooth you can keep.


  1. My eldest lost her first teeth last autumn and we too couldn't find a good book about the tooth fairy. I thought this one looked interesting:
    but not as a first book to keep the magic - rather as one for when they're a bit bigger. But I haven't actually read it so I can't be sure.

  2. Hi Zoe - I have read Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World. As a matter of fact, I used it when I taught second grade and we studied traditions around the world as well as dental health. My students were always fascinated to learn what other children did with their teeth. Me, too! I have compiled a list of tooth fairy books, but am still looking for that special book. Perhaps I just need to write my own :-)

  3. I really need to get back to reading more of your posts. They are always so helpful to me as far as what to expect when my little one starts reaching these milestones! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hi Dani - I'm glad you're back! As you can tell, this milestone is a bit of a roller coaster ride for me (as is most things in parenting). I am so excited for Emmy and all that is happening in her life, but also have a melancholy feeling - a baby no more; Emmy is a little girl.