My six year old son had a milestone moment this week: he lost his first tooth. He’s young for his grade and had looked on for some months as his classmates lost tooth after tooth. So it was with great excitement that he held up his tooth, safe in a tiny plastic treasure chest, to present to me after school one day.
He couldn’t wait to go to bed that night, anticipating the Tooth Fairy’s very first visit. When my husband and I were finally sure he was asleep, I was faced with some decisions to make.
Should I do what all the other moms are doing?
In our rather affluent corner of the world, it’s common for the Tooth Fairy to give a first tooth bonus. His friends report getting as much as twenty dollars for their first one. Although ridiculous, it poses some problems. How high are his expectations? Is he going to feel left out if he doesn’t get what his friends get? I don’t want to raise an entitled child, but I also remember what it feels like to be different than everyone else. In the end, the Tooth Fairy left him a whopping six dollars. One for the tooth, to establish what’s going to be “normal,” and a five dollar bill as a first time bonus.
Am I a Pinterest Mom?
A quick search on Tooth Fairy traditions will give you loads of ideas on what you can do to make this experience as magical as possible. People spray their dollar bills with glitter, or give Sacajawea coins. They make special tooth pillows to hold the tooth, and they write tiny tooth fairy notes. They leave “fairy dust” on the windowsill, or they prop up tiny dollhouse doors next to their bedroom door. And the list goes on.
While I love creating special experiences for my kids, I had to ask myself how much hassle I was willing to handle for each of his twenty baby teeth (plus twenty more for his little brother). In the end, I settled on printing out a tooth fairy receipt. It was a nod to something a little extra special and it was easy enough to manage. (Pro tip: find the one you like best and print out a bunch of copies to have on hand!)
How sentimental of a mom am I?
I stood next to the counter and examined his tooth in my hand, remembering how exciting it was when we could see it poking through his baby gums for the first time. What should I do with his precious little baby tooth? Do I keep it in a special box? Put it in a scrapbook? Throw it away? (“How ’bout you make a necklace from it?” my husband teased.) I consider myself a sentimental person, but my own mother never saved my teeth and I’m not sorry or sad about that in the slightest. My mother-in-law kept my husband’s teeth and it creeped him out to find them as an adult. I ended up tossing my son’s tooth into the kitchen garbage can and promised myself I would take a thousand pictures of his new toothless smile.
Playing the tooth fairy provided an unexpected opportunity to evaluate my decisions as a mother. The truth is, every day we are faced with decisions that determine what kind of parent we want to be. In big and small ways, we chart the course for the kinds of kids we’re raising and the values we want to impart. And the good news is that there are usually several right answers to each parenting decision. There are many ways to be a good mom. So when you come to some weird parenting crossroads, like holding a baby tooth over the garbage can and wondering what to do, know that you’re a good mom regardless of what you decide!
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