George Stahl

Writing Out Loud / George Stahl

It is not disputed that on every day, 365 of them, something is celebrated or honored. Today, a familiar winged creature which has been a staple of life throughout the world as far back as the beginning of time is the focus.

Today, August 22, is the day we celebrate a Famous Fairy. No, it’s not Tinker Bell of Peter Pan fame. On this day we acknowledge that night visitor who collects canines and eye teeth from under children’s pillows and leaves behind a token of monetary worth in exchange.

There is a child, and it has just lost a tooth. Let’s say it is you when you were 5 years old. That’s a challenge in itself for some of us, remembering when we were a 5-year-old child. Anyway. You just lost, or maybe more honestly, you just wrangled and moved your lose tooth violently from side to side until it came out of your mouth. You hold it up and run through the house yelling, “Look mommy! My tooth came out!” all the while seeing a quarter in your fingertips instead of a tooth. Oh yeah, you know about the Tooth Fairy, and you know that when you wake up tomorrow morning, that tooth you placed under your pillow before you fell asleep will have disappeared somewhere in the night, only to be replaced by money.

The Tooth Fairy has evolved over the years, depending on where you live. For example, as hard as it may be to believe, in some countries, the tiny flying ATM machine is not always the loving little magic dust dispensing charmer we remember from childhood. In some places, she is a scurrying, very small mouse who wants the teeth for unspecified reasons. In others, she is a he, and in some, she is neither he or she. Then there are those countries where the Tooth Fairy is not a tiny human at all, but a small dragon that comes in the night to gather the teeth and leave something of unusual value behind. This is not an attempt to discredit any of these, but what do you want your child to believe? That a flying, endearing fairy will be coming in the middle of the night to collect their teeth, or a scary, big eared, gender confused, fire breathing dragon mouse will be entering their bedroom in the dark to reach under their pillow? By the way sweetie, sleep well! Now that could cause a whole different set of childhood memories and several years of therapy.

In keeping with the changing times, and realizing that the value of things seems to go up as the years go by, you tooth fairies across the country, no matter what form you take, according to a survey by Visa, Inc., the average rate of exchange for a single tooth is now, ready, are you sitting down? That quarter you got as a kid is nothing! Now, those baby teeth that are going to fall out anyway, and are just there as fillers in your kids’ mouth, are going for $3.70 each! Multiply that by what, 32, and you might want to think about having your kids brush with Super Glue instead of Crest!

Along with a college fund set up for your little future doctors and lawyers, you might want to see your bankers for a tooth loan. Or, as an alternative, you can take the lead of the ancient Vikings and instead of having your little ones put those teeth under a pillow for a bounty, you can make a good luck necklace out them. According to legend, Viking warriors (as if there were any other kind of Viking) would take their children’s fallen teeth and braid them on a string around their necks for good luck in battle. If they didn’t have kids of their own, they would pay for other children’s teeth. The catch, these childless Thors paid the parents, not the kids for the teeth. Ka Ching! Suddenly the table turns and you have just found a way to edge the Tooth Fairy out of the picture.

In case there are any 5- to 7-year-olds reading this column, a word of advice. Take advantage of these years when your teeth decide to exit your mouths. Once they do, there’s no putting them back. If you are lucky though, they will be replaced by your permanent teeth. Beware, however, little ones, permanent doesn’t mean exactly what it sounds like. They are only permanent if you take care of them. Floss, brush and clean them regularly. You don’t get any money if these fall out! You can’t sell them to any Viking who might come along, and you will not, absolutely not, see another one grow in its place. Once those are gone, that’s all she wrote. The best you could hope for is to get a job sitting as a live model in a Jack O’ Lantern carving class somewhere.

So, let’s all celebrate today with a good floss and brush! Everybody…smile, it’s only the Tooth Fairy!

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