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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moment of tooth: Thieving fairy not always appreciated

By Treena Shapiro

One of the most absurdly charming gifts my daughter has ever given me is a tooth pillow.

I thanked her profusely, of course. No point in telling a 5-year-old that adults with teeth issues get dentists' bills, not petty cash from the tooth fairy. Besides, it wasn't a useless gift, as the gift-giver herself has a mouthful of uses for it. So when she announced she had a wiggly tooth a couple weeks ago, I pulled the pillow out of the closet and waited.

If only I'd been dreaming about it last Sunday morning when my kids started tugging at my pillows and talking so animatedly that by 8:30 I conceded it would be more restful to get out of bed than remain in it. It didn't seem atypical at the time. My kids have never been much concerned with anyone else's desire to sleep. In fact, it seemed so normal that it took awhile for me to realize that the hubbub that forced me out of bed wasn't just their typical idle chatter. They had been plotting because my 5-year-old had lost her first tooth and rather than clue me in, my 12-year-old son seized the opportunity to teach his little sister that if she put a tooth under a pillow, the tooth fairy will take it and leave some money in return.

Technically he was right. Except that instead of letting her put it under her pillow when she went to bed, they put it under my pillow first thing in the morning, before I'd had enough caffeine to comprehend what was going on. After a few sips of Diet Pepsi, I wandered over to see why the kids were so excited. But the happy kids who woke me up had become one distraught little girl, an irritated tween, bedding tossed every which way and a crumpled dollar bill where my pillows were supposed to be.

As I understand it, my daughter was upset because the tooth she'd lost had disappeared. The money on my bed was what the thieving tooth fairy had left behind when she took the tooth. I'm sure my daughter would have appreciated the money if she'd had a chance to show me the tooth first, but it was gone. And my son, who had expected his sister to be thrilled with the dollar's magical appearance, looked as crestfallen as she did.

Unfortunately for me, the story was told in a nonlinear fashion from two points of view, so I didn't realize the tooth fairy had already come until after I'd pulled the smallest bill from my wallet, which even given inflation, had to beat the tooth fairy's regular rate. The extra cash diffused the situation, but set a bad precedent, so bad that I don't even want to think about what's going to happen the next time the tooth fairy comes around. I just hope next time I get a chance to share the tooth pillow and start a less chaotic tradition.

When she's not being a reporter, Treena Shapiro is busy with her real job, raising a son and daughter. Check out her blog at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.