Tooth Fairy Phobia

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"That gap is so big, I could shop for khakis in there," a friend teased Grace as she proudly showed him the latest void left by her third lost tooth.

The third time's a charm, I hoped to myself. After two previous attempts, we thought we'd finally gotten the whole Tooth Fairy thing down. Not so — my 6-year-old had developed a Tooth Fairy phobia.

The first time we left a tooth under the pillow, Grace got up three times in the night from excitement, and the poor Tooth Fairy was barely able to complete her mission.

The second time it took the Tooth Fairy two nights to covertly secure Grace's tooth due to light sleeping brought on by anticipation.

And this third time, anticipation had given way to full-blown anxiety. Before bedtime, as we slipped the tooth under the pillow, she said, "Mama, I'm nervous. If I wake up while the Tooth Fairy's here, I'll be scared."

Scared? Of the Tooth Fairy? It had never dawned on me. I felt dense for not realizing how sensible it is for a child to lie awake, fearfully anticipating a stranger entering her room in the middle of the night — no matter how benign, charming, and generous she might be.

After clearing up a few things — the Tooth Fairy is not a big grown-up, but more like a light-as-a-feather Barbie-sized sprite; she won't get tired and fall asleep in a child's bed, where she might bite in self-defense if a child accidentally rolls upon her; and she doesn't play mischievous tricks like Tinkerbell — we decided to ask her for a little favor.

Grace wrote the Tooth Fairy a short note asking if she could forego the whole under-the-pillow technicality and inquired if the Tooth Fairy would mind conducting the transaction in another part of the house.

We left the little letter, along with the tooth, downstairs on the kitchen table in a teacup. Grace slept soundly and in the morning found a buck twenty-five in the cup. We surmised the twenty-five cent bonus was a reward for being so honest about how she felt and coming up with a good solution. That Tooth Fairy is so nice.

Do you play Tooth Fairy in your house? How does your child feel about the Tooth Fairy? Click the comments link below to share.

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Tooth Fairy Phobia

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