Home November 2011 On the Lighter Side

On the Lighter Side

I’ve been hired for a great new job.  It’s a part-time gig, and I’ll only work sporadically for the next year or two.  But it’s a fantastic opportunity, and I’m not overstating the matter when I say I’ve been dreaming about this job my entire adult life.
I’m about to become the Tooth Fairy.
Two nights ago, Zev burst out of the bathroom where he’d been brushing his teeth, yelping, “I have a loose tooth!”
He’s the last kid in his first-grade class to experience the addictive wiggling of loose teeth, and he positively beamed when he opened his maw for me to test the wobbliness of his bottom front milk tooth.
“It doesn’t even hurt!” he said, sounding both surprised and relieved.
Hubby, Zev and I forgot all about bedtime.  We sat on the couch, taking turns feeling his tooth and talking about the changes taking place below his gum line.
Hubby talked about how he became expert at fiddling with his loose teeth with his tongue.  Zev described with great detail how bloody other kids’ mouths were when they lost teeth at school.  I shared the story of my mother’s failed attempt to remove a loose tooth from my head by tying it to the doorknob of an opened door, and then slamming that door shut.
The look of horror on both their faces was familiar.  I’m the daughter of Israeli immigrants, and my parents’ notions of child-rearing were informed by 1930s Poland, on my mother’s side, and my paternal grandparents’ life on the kibbutz.
My father was mostly reared in a commune, while Mom’s childhood stories usually involved slaughtering pet chickens or sharing a bathtub with a live cod.
Unsurprisingly, when I lost my first tooth, I had to educate my parents about the Tooth Fairy.  Israelis are way too pragmatic for the Tooth Fairy, and the concept must have sounded ridiculous to them.  But I made it very clear that I took this rite of passage seriously, and Dad sat patiently as I explained the whole concept:  The tooth under the pillow, the sneaking in while I slept, the cash.
“What do I do with the tooth?” he asked.
That one stumped me.  What did people’s parents do with their kids’ teeth?  I couldn’t ask my friends.  More than a few of them actually believed that fairies visited their home and took their shed cranial material out from under their pillows.
We worked out an arrangement whereby Dad would leave my tooth along with a dollar under my pillow.  In the morning, I’d stash the dollar in my piggy bank and the tooth in a box in my dresser.
Now that I’m going to be the Tooth Fairy, I have a plan for all those tiny teeth: I will collect them from under Zev’s pillow… and stash them in a box in my dresser.  Brilliant, right?
What I haven’t yet worked out is what Zev gets in return.  Zev knows that I’m the Tooth Fairy, so he’s made sure to keep me apprised of what his friends have gotten when they lost their first teeth.  The booty is daunting:
Some received $50.  Others got $100.  More than a few awoke with their heads resting upon an iPad.  Seriously.  An iPad.
Zev has been told to expect a visit by the Tooth Fairy, not the ghost of Steve Jobs.  I’m contemplating $6 for his first tooth (because he’s 6) and $1 for every tooth thereafter.  If he is disappointed with his Tooth Fairy’s offerings, he can take it up with the union.  (Speaking of which, if any more experienced Tooth Fairies out there want to offer tips, feel free to look me up on LinkedIn.)
In the meantime, I’m busily preparing for my new job: I’m working on little poems to leave under his pillow after each visit.  I’m trying to figure out if there is a fairy dust-like substance I can leave on his bed that won’t get everywhere.  I’m contemplating writing postcards from the point of view of each of Zev’s teeth, to be mailed to him each time a tooth has been whisked off to Fairy Land.
Oh!  I can’t wait!  Except that I have to wait.
Like the permanent tooth that is pushing its way up through Zev’s gums, I’m just biding my time before my start date.

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