When I was a young mother, I was always looking for fun ways to bond with my children while helping them develop constructive ways to express their emotions, thoughts, and ideas. If I could combine the two goals into one venture, that was a huge win. We stumbled across such an activity when the girls started to lose their baby teeth and we began to document the experience.
It was a natural progression which started with photographing their adorable smiles with the large gap in their mouths where the teeth used to be. I would write how long it took for the tooth to fall out, for example, one tooth would take 14 days to wiggle its way out of my daughter’s mouth. She lost it on January 5th twisting it while eating dinner or at school chomping on a carrot at lunchtime in the cafeteria. This became a ritual, a way to remember such a memorable and important time in childhood.
I then had the idea to have the girls write to the Tooth Fairy. What would they say? What words would they practice writing and what drawings would they produce? I was enthusiastic to see what they would dream up on paper. It was incredibly fun to see their eyes widen in wonderment when discussing this imaginary being that flew around and picked up teeth while they lay sleeping. Like the myth of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, this seemed like a way to tap into that magical part of life that lives only in our imaginations. Though these beings may not be real in the flesh, they are alive in our minds and our souls, and perhaps that is enough.
The first letters were simple, but full of innocent pronouncement that always seems to amaze us as parents. We are satisfied to see their progress and their unique handwriting, even if it’s just a few words that are spelled correctly (or incorrectly) and make a complete sentence (or not). This is a big deal when a child is just learning how to write.
“Dear Tooth Fairy, when will my first tooth come out? Your friend, R ”
Like the incredible pleasure and gratification that a new parent feels when their child makes the smallest of marks or the first sounds in their small bodies, we are fascinated with anything that they do. All adults marvel at and envy their child’s lack of inhibition, and their abilities to tap into their innate creativity in such a direct way without the added layers of discouragement and self-consciousness that grownups seem to take on as time passes and society lays its mark on them. I can write how I feel and that is enough. It doesn’t matter that someone does it better or that you don’t like it.
As time passed, the letters became more complex, more enticing, more curious. Unilateral questions now became actual letters with several questions and emotions in one feel swoop:
“Dear Tooth Fairy,
I have a few questions. First one is can I still write to you even after I lost all my baby teeth?
And do tooth fairys have religions like people?
Also, how many teeth have I lost and are you a good drawer? If you are, please draw something.
Oh and what’s your name? 😊 And I’d like to keep my tooth if that’s ok.
From your friend R”
And of course, the Tooth Fairy had to adjust and think of age appropriate, friendly responses that would encourage and meet their expanding critical minds:
Congratulations on loosing another tooth! Your questions are wonderful, and I would love to answer them. 😊 You can absolutely still write to me after you lose all of your baby teeth. In fact, I’m hoping you will as I love getting your letters! So as far as religions and Tooth Fairies go, Tooth Fairies have their own religion which is completely separate from human religions. It’s based on the magic powers of teeth and how they help kids become grown-ups and create new things in Tooth Fairy Land. So, you have lost over 15 teeth. I think I need to check with your mom though as she has the records for those things! As far as drawing goes, I do like to draw…especially different pictures of teeth – see below. My name is Noelle Pomegrante and you can definitely keep you tooth – I have plenty more to fall back on right now. Here is some $ keep brushing!!
The Tooth Fairy 😊
As we all can guess, I was the Tooth Fairy. The letters were not perfect, but an attempt to communicate seemed to suffice. I remember being tired as I had to compose something in the middle of the night after a long day of work and chores. The discipline of writing each time a tooth was lost also seemed to have a positive effect and led to academic advancement. Did my children ever discover that the Tooth Fairy was not real when they were 5 or 6 or as their last teeth came out, at 11 or 12?
Perhaps. But they played along with the game gracefully, as if they knew that if they spoke the truth or broke the spell, it would ruin the fun, and destroy the fantasy world. And all the benefits and joy that came from the magical imaginary world would dissipate and disappear like the teeth in their mouths. The moment is fleeting and so perfectly wonderful in its brevity.
I think they enjoyed communicating with the fairy, someone that may be their mom. In the least, this fairy knew me and I think that gateway was comforting, reassuring, exciting. As their mom, I could help them process their feelings and thoughts toward the Tooth Fairy and that in itself, strengthened our connection and our relationship which lasted nearly 8 years.
Today, my girls are well-adjusted, self-aware teenagers. They have friends and tell us how they are feeling. They also have hobbies that they enjoy and are not afraid to express their minds or take on new challenges. I attribute this success somewhat, to the writing exercise that we developed with the Tooth Fairy. Perhaps it will have a similar positive effect on your family, and I encourage you to give it a try.