As a safety preparedness measure, I feel compelled to write about the night crawler that everyone talks about, but no one has seen… that’s right I’m talking about the Tooth Fairy. TF as she’s called in our house, is coming tonight to collect my daughter’s tooth. Tonight my daughter excitedly put the tooth in the pouch where it belongs, then smiled and rolled over and went to sleep.
As a child, I can vividly remember not being able to sleep on the nights the tooth fairy was coming. I was not down with the Tooth Fairy. In fact, I was terrified of the Tooth Fairy and my parents did nothing to alleviate my concerns. They didn’t have any firm details on her. They didn’t know what she wore, or what she liked to eat, who her favorite superhero was, or who her parents were! Nothing. And there was never a good explanation of why she was buying up children’s teeth.
Not only did my parents not have good intel on her, the worst part is they didn’t seem worried about the safety of this stranger coming into my room at night while I slept. They did come to check on me repeatedly, but they weren’t there to console me. Instead they would offer exasperated sighs when I’d ambush them in the dark with more questions.
At least Santa understands healthy boundaries. He doesn’t come in to where you sleep. I mean, that’s creepy, right? And Santa is happy, some would even call him jolly. Santa has elves and Mrs. Claus, so you get that he has a sense of community. But the tooth fairy, she goes out on her own… at night… into strangers houses… to collect teeth… what the hell is wrong with her? She doesn’t even have a side kick like Captain Cavity. Whether they chose to use their powers for good or evil, most characters have a side-kick.
Obviously I understand now that my parents were coming up during the commercials of Dr. Who, then they’d stay up to watch the news and I’d still be awake. Then, bleary-eyed they’d be forced to watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, hoping I would go to sleep soon so they could put some money under my pillow.
Of course my daughter has zero questions about the tooth fairy. And she doesn’t put the tooth under her pillow, but instead on the nightstand. When she does have safety concerns about the tooth fairy, we will start leaving the tooth outside her room door or on the kitchen counter or on the front porch if we need to. And I will give way too much improvised information when she has questions about the tooth fairy.
You might not have been elected to office, but if you have a child, you were appointed to the position of Parent. It is the highest honor in the land with the longest hours. And there are no set term limits. You serve at least 18 years. Usually more. And you will spend every day in session, no breaks.
Children are no different than adults. They get an uneasy nervous feeling when they get vague answers from their leaders. Specifics are sublime. They are always comforting. Remember that next time you’re having to reassure a scared child. It’s important to have candid open conversations when you are lying to your child about a fictional character. And don’t afraid to deviate from the traditions of your childhood to make them feel safe.