I thought the jig was up.
My daughter, Perry, lost a tooth. Not her first tooth, not her front tooth, just a run-of-the-mill baby tooth from the bottom row. Before I went to bed that night, I searched the house for appropriately ethereal pen and paper. I found a pink pad and a purple glitter pen in Perryís room, dashed off the obligatory note from the Tooth Fairy, and left it under her pillow along with a shiny silver dollar. The silver dollar required a special trip to the bank. My advice would be: donít bother. Your kids will think itís a big quarter.
The next morning, the household was awakened by an announcement from Perryís room that the Tooth Fairy had, indeed, landed:
"Hey! Rip-off! She only left me a quarter!"
By the time she came to the breakfast table, my daughter had turned her attention and her uncanny eye for detail to the Tooth Fairyís note.
"The Tooth Fairyís handwriting looks a lot like yours, Mom," she probed.
"Really? Thatís interesting," I feigned surprise.
"No, Mom, really. The way she makes her rís looks exactly the same as yours when you sign my report card."
I began to feel defensive.
"They donít look the same to me," I said. "See, her iís are all dotted with little teeth and her handwriting is way fancier than mine." I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. "Besides," I added triumphantly, "I never sign your report cards with a purple glitter pen."
"Mom," she countered, "I have a pen that writes just like that. You probably stole it from my room."
It was obvious that she was on to me. She knew the truth.
"Mom," she glared at me with steely determination, "you are the Tooth Fairy!"
I was cornered. There was no way out. My mind raced as I tried to think of some way to save her innocence, to preserve her imagination and retain the last vestiges of her precious childhood. If you believe in fairies, clap your hands!
"Youíre right," I finally agreed. "I am the Tooth Fairy."
She looked skeptical.
"I never told you because I thought that it wouldnít be fair if the other kids in the neighborhood knew. Theyíd be jealous."
"Mom, come on," she pleaded. "Tell me the truth."
I knew I had her.
"I am telling the truth," I explained. "The women in our family have been the Tooth Fairy for many generations. Do you think itís a coincidence that Grandma is a dental hygienist?"
That was the clincher. She was a believer.
"But how come I never see you going out at night to collect teeth and give kids money?"
"Sweetie," I explained with fairy-like patience, "you know how Iím always dashing off to all those P. T. O. meetings?"
"Tooth-Fairy business?" she asked solemnly.
"Yep. And youíre next in line. Just like The Princess Diaries."
"Wow," she said. "I guess thatís kind of cool."
She seemed a little shook up, a little overwhelmed by having so much to think about before breakfast. She was strangely silent. Perhaps she was mulling over her destiny, or maybe she was mentally poking holes in the story I had just told. Then, she pocketed the silver dollar and smiled.
Genealogy is powerful stuff. Wait until Christmas, when she figures out that her dad is Santa.
Click here for a complete archive of Carol Band's Household Word columns.
When sheís not collecting baby teeth, Carol Band is a freelance writer and United Parenting Publications columnist.