The loss of a tooth is both exciting and terrifying. So often the children come to Lisa with a pearly fragment hanging from their gum desperate to have the thing pulled but horrified that they would even consider volunteering for such unimaginable pain. The younger ones are encouraged by their elder siblings who remind them of the untold riches the Tooth Fairy brings to brave souls who surrender themselves to “the pull.”
And so, the teeth come. Lately they’ve been coming with alarming regularity. The children are starting to look like Hill Billies with all the holes in their mouths. The older ones are at the stage where they are losing their molars while the younger ones are rapidly giving up their fore teeth. The Tooth Fairy is really working around here.
When Isaac lost his first tooth so many years back Lisa told me she didn’t believe in the Tooth Fairy and that such nonsense would not be tolerated in our house. She was very strict.
I had always loved those nocturnal visits and relished the magic of money under the pillow until all my adult teeth had come in. So, I decided that if I was not allowed to be the Tooth Fairy then I would serve as her Agent and the children would get their money through a middle man. It’s evolved into a complicated system.
Teeth are redeemed for the “market rate.” There is no standard fee.
“Dad, what do you do with the teeth?”
“I don’t do anything with them except give them to the Tooth Fairy. She sends them to Mexico where they’re made into tooth necklaces. The market fluctuates based on supply and demand.”
Most of the time the redemption value ranges between $1.25 and $1.50 and they are always happy to get it.
There are however exceptions. Sometimes the Tooth Fairy’s agent forgets to collect the tooth. Late collections always result in higher fees, as much as an additional $1. Cashing in multiple teeth brings a premium as do molars. Bigger teeth bring bigger rewards.
The greatest coup to date was won by Jessie. She produced two teeth for her first visit from the local Tooth Fairy agent. Two teeth bring almost twice as much as singles and first teeth always earn a special compensation. So, two teeth surrendered on the first visit brought nearly quadruple the usual share. She woke up with a $5 bill under her pillow and complained that she “only got one” instead of a handful of coins. She was too young to understand that one $5 bill was better than six or seven small coins. I ended up changing it for her into three $1 bills and a bunch of assorted coins. She thought she was rich.
Even in their early teens the children remain fascinated with the Tooth Fairy magic. Recently Benjamin handed over a tooth. I gave him the option of cash on the spot or a visit from the Agent.
“I’ll put the tooth in a little bag right next to my bed,” he said.
I looked at him and said, “I’ll let her know she’s got a pick-up tonight.”