Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dissing the Tooth Fairy

I took my kids to their respective karate and gymnastics classes last night. While there, I got "the look" from another parent. My daughter lost her third tooth last week and was wiggling the next candidate as she awaited her class. As the girl likes to do, she was telling complete strangers about her recent dental changes and was enthusiastically displaying her new toothless void. When the lady asked her if the tooth fairy had visited (expecting an enthusiastic "Yes!"), my daughter responded with a straight face and a simple "no." That's when I got “the look.” The is the gaze one receives when another person thinks you're either an awful parent keeping a child from their innocence, or a practitioner of a strange religion that shuns the existence of the tooth fairy. Immediately, I had to stammer for an explanation to my daughter's words by stating, "It’s HER choice!"

That's daughter refuses to give up her teeth. We've reminded her that the tooth fairy will reward her handsomely for the teeth (hinting at $5 for the first and a dollar for each additional), but she refuses to part with them. I've never received an explanation that makes a lot of sense, just that she wants to keep them in a cheap plastic McDonald's Happy Meal toy container that looks like a tooth fairy. I've seen her play with this toy and I can imagine all her teeth spilled over the carpeted floor, leading to me eventually stepping upon an incisor in the dark of night and feeling it penetrate to the bone in my bare foot.

She asked if she could write a letter to the tooth fairy for money rather than offer up a tooth, but in an effort to teach her a little about sacrificing for a greater reward, we decided not to allow that. Give up the teeth and get the cash. No exception. Otherwise, she could write a letter anytime requesting money and simply expecting it without any sacrifice or actions in exchange. I’ve seen her struggle with the dilemma, while being amazed at both her decision and her acceptance of said consequence. Between you and me, I’m sure her decisions will be amply rewarded eventually. Either that, or when her brother starts showing a profit (he’s already looking forward to his first payment) she’ll change her mind and seek a bulk tooth-deposit.

I suppose that I'm destined to get “the look” from other parents for quite a while. But frankly, they can look to their heart’s content, for I know I'm a decent parent that's allowing my daughter to do as she wishes and to learn to make tough independent choices. I might regret that when she becomes a more opinionated teenager, but by then, I'll be dealing with her looks rather than those from others.

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