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?