Friday, September 28, 2007

Tooth Fairy Economics

This week marked my first stint as Tooth Fairy. Kaleb, my oldest, surrendered his third lost tooth and faithfully placed it under his pillow (his first two, which he had decided to keep, were lost somewhere in the house a couple years ago where I’m afraid Zacky snacked on them). Being in an especially generous mood, I replaced this tooth with a five-dollar bill.

“Heh, Mom?” he said the next morning. “How come the Tooth Fairy doesn’t give much for teeth these days?” He waved the crisp bill at me as evidence. Apparently, the neighbor boy, who has one year on Kaleb and a couple more lost teeth, gets toys under his pillow.

“Five dollars is a lot!” I said. “Do you know I only got a quarter for my teeth?” Later that day a friend of mine echoed those sentiments, telling him, “I was lucky to get a dime.” Suddenly Kaleb turned braggart, telling everyone that his teeth were worth much more than his mother and her friend’s teeth combined.

Later that day, while I folded laundry, Kaleb decided to engage in Tooth Fairy Economics. “Why did I get more for my teeth than you did?” he asked.

“Well,” I said. “It’s been awhile since I lost my teeth. Maybe teeth are worth more these days.” I patted myself on the back for introducing Kaleb to the concept of inflation.

But Kaleb shook his head, unhappy with that explanation. “I think,” he said. “That boy tooth fairies give more money than girl tooth fairies.” I thought about that for a minute. “So you think girls have a girl tooth fairy and boys have a boy tooth fairy?” He nodded. “And the boy tooth fairy gives more money than the girl tooth fairy?” He nodded again, and then added, “Because boys make more money than girls.” Sheesh, I thought. This conversation had evolved all too quickly from inflation to gender discrimination in the workplace.

“Kaleb,” I said in my lecture voice. “Girl tooth fairies and boy tooth fairies make the same amount of money.” Imaginary money, I thought. But Kaleb shrugged, already disinterested in our conversation.

Only later did he bring it up again, saying, “Mom, I’ve stopped thinking about boys being tooth fairies. I think the Tooth Fairy is a grandma now.”

“How come?” I asked, wondering if this was progress.

“Because I don’t think boys have fairy wings. That’s for girls.”

I sighed. Well, at least the grandma tooth fairy no longer has to file a complaint about unfair wages. That’s progress, right?

Imaginary progress…

16 comments:

suburbancorrespondent said...

Hey, I've talked about this subject in my post The Economics of Teeth http://suburbancorrespondent.blogspot.com/2007/03/economics-of-teeth.html

And I sure wish that I understood how to do those hyper-linked trackbacks the way all the savvy bloggers do, so I wouldn't be pasting in the entire URL. If anyone could tell me how...

Oh, and our parish priest once told the story of how he decided to trick the tooth fairy by putting a bunch of the dog's teeth under his pillow. He woke up in the morning and found a large MilkBone dog biscuit in their place.

Anonymous said...

Gee I feel guilty. The tooth fairy was going to college and working part time when my girls lost their teeth. I don't think they scored 5 bucks for their entire set of teeth between the three of them! And many times the tooth fairy fell asleep studying and so I had to hand the tooth fairy money over at breakfast and make excuses for the unorganized an unreliable creature. I loved your post. Brings back memories!
Mary

shawn said...

Round these parts the Tooth Fairy leaves a shiny new Twoonie (the infamous two dollar coin), but with the flip of exchange values, soon our two will be worth more THAN your five ... so it works out in the end ...

If only we could get the Tooth Fairy to remember to do it in a timely fashion ... then we'd be getting somewhere !!

Loved the story!!

Karen said...

We were so flush with pentup pride when the first tooth came out we overpaid. How to explain the lower value when the teeth start falling out two per week? And how to explain when on the 7th or 8th tooth the fairy forgot altogether? We blamed the housepainters, who had temporarily removed the house numbers. The good thing is, no matter what we say, the kids buy it, until they the day they no longer buy it. Our reign is about up.

Eileen said...

Loved how seriously your son took this and the convesation that took place between the two of you. Is he a thinker or what? Personally, I think $5.00 is a really nice present from the tooth fairy. I know our tooth fairy never left that much.
Too cute!

Rachel said...

My kids are getting the Sacajawea dollar and I am hoping that the fact that it is shiny and purty will distract them. Before they compare with other kids and realize that they are getting ripped off, that is.
And hey...I don't see them paying me for anything that falls off my decrepit body!

Annie said...

Isn't it amazing that they somehow subliminally pick up this stuff?

slackermommy said...

Too funny! Our tooth fairy just gives whatever she has at that moment. Sometimes it's a $1 or $5. Once there was a $20 bill but I told the recipient to not get used to it. The tooth fairy was extra generous that day. It must have been a boy tooth fairy.

Becky said...

Wow....5 bucks! Glad our kids are swapping stories....I still only give a few quarters....sometimes, when I am feeling extra "fairy-ish"...I'll give a dollar.

Thanks for sharing Shauna....too cute!

Joeprah said...

I really like how you listem to your son so intently and ask him his point of view so genuinely. Mark of a loving parent. $5 is alot and makes us $1 parents look bad.

shauna said...

This has been a truly helpful exercise for me because it appears I overpaid on my first stint as tooth fairy. Maybe enough time will lapse that I can be a little less exhuberant on the next tooth -- I'm hoping that to a 6-year old two or three dollar bills will be more appealing than a single 5 dollar bill... Whadda think?

Erin said...

Wow-good luck with that. Just watch-one day Kaleb will end up working for Leah. Can't wait for the Tooth Fairy days.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Oh, this post brought back a cute memory of my daughter and tooth fairy...

One of the times she lost her tooth, the tooth fairy forgot to leave money to replace it (in fact totally forgot to replace it so even the tooth was there.

Her mommy told her to leave the tooth there again. Maybe the tooth fairy was just so busy that day, she'll come the next day. She did..butin addition, she also left a quater and a note:

"Dear Toothfairy,
Here's a quarter for you. I know you are busy because may kids are losing their teeth. In case you ran out of money, here's a quarter".

Of course there are ,ots of mispelled words in teh note but tooth fairy understood and was quite touched by such generosity.

Later, when my daughter found out the tooth fairy is me, she asked "Can I get my quarter back now? :)

Christine said...

Our tooth fairy still only gives a quarter. May it's socio-economic discrimination!!

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