Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dudes Can Be Fairies Too, Right?

Here's an older blog entry I found. I wrote it when my oldest daughter lost her first tooth.

I’m sure I had conversations with my parents about the Tooth Fairy, but I don’t remember what was said. As a matter of fact, I don't remember anything before the Who Shot J.R.? episode of “Dallas.” I must have killed those particular brain cells with beer.
As a result, I was quite unprepared for the intricacies contained in being the father of a child losing her first tooth, and the doors to adulthood that it would open.

As soon as we became aware of our daughter Taylor‘s first loose tooth, my wife and I began offering support and advice.
"Just keep wiggling it," we'd say. “It will fall out and you can put it under your pillow. The Tooth Fairy will come during the night. She'll take your tooth and leave money. It's totally a win-win situation for you."

Taylor seemed pretty intrigued about the idea, but she had made it abundantly clear that she would not try to force the tooth out. She wanted to wait until it fell away on its own. I was somewhat dejected upon hearing this, as it had been my plan to tie her tooth to a gasoline-powered rocket made from my lawn mower engine and “see what happened.” Eventually, I relented and let nature take its course.

Things went on rather uneventfully until Taylor’s tooth finally did come out one night as she was brushing. It bounced across the porcelain of the sink, nearly sliding into the drain. I snatched it up just before it tumbled into oblivion.

Once the tooth was securely in our possession, I made big deal out of the occasion, congratulating Taylor and making sure not to mention that she now bore a striking resemblance to Mike Tyson. After all, losing your first tooth is one of those iconic childhood moments that a person never forgets. I didn't want her to be working this out in therapy at age forty:

"Well, doctor, my life started to go downhill when I lost my first tooth. Daddy didn't seem to care too much. Then I tried heroin."

That evening at bedtime, I took Taylor through the usual routine. I tucked her tooth beneath an extra pillow (making sure to put it close to the edge of the mattress, as to facilitate an easier retrieval) and everything was set.

I was coasting through the bedtime process, thinking that this whole “fatherhood” thing was pretty easy to master. Then Taylor started asking a lot of questions that I wasn't quite prepared for:

"Daddy, How big is the Tooth Fairy?"
"Oh, she's about this big,” I said as I held my hands six inches apart.
"How does the Tooth Fairy get into my room?"
"Umm...she flies in through the window."
"But how does she get through the window if it’s closed?"

It was then that I realized she had inherited my imagination as well as my penchant for rational thinking. We are all doomed. Especially me.

"I don't know, honey. She just twinkles her nose and junk. She's magic."
"We need to open up the window so she can get in!"

Of course, by saying “We need to open the window,” she meant “You need to open the window,” resulting in twenty minutes spent fumbling through the blinds and coaxing the locks open.

Once that was done, I turned around and gave her forehead a goodnight kiss, trying desperately not to think of the money wasted trying to heat the house all night with an open window.

My wife had given me a five-dollar bill to place underneath Taylor’s pillow for her “Tooth Fairy money” (I think I only got a quarter or a Home Depot coupon or something for each one of my teeth, but I'm sure the current price of oil is also affecting the tooth market), and since I was “The Man," it was pretty much a given that I'd be sneaking the money in there once I confirmed that she was asleep.

Around ten o' clock, I got up to go to the bathroom and peeked into her room. She was out cold.
Clutching the fiver in my hand, I tiptoed inside.

There I stood in the threshold of the doorway, facing a slumbering five-year-old and a very curious cat who had been watching my every move since entering the room. I was immediately reminded of the opening twenty minutes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Everybody knows the scene: Indiana Jones emerges into the main hall of a forbidden temple. He places cautious steps around all the booby traps and other assorted deadly stuff on the floor. His eyes grow wide beholding the treasure before him: a small idol made of pure gold, no doubt worth millions. Maybe even billionty-millions.

Indiana tiptoes his way up to the idol and strokes his sweet five o' clock shadow as he decides how to make the exchange. He pulls a bag of sand out of his pocket (because everyone carries a bag of sand in their pockets) and, measuring with his eye, gauges the weight of the idol so that he can quickly switch them out.

After a heavy breath, he swaps the bag of sand for the idol. He exhales in relief as he realizes his calculations are correct. Then he runs the hell out of the room, chased by stones and poison-tipped arrows.

I had to go through the exact same thing.

Instead of booby traps, I had to silently make my way around the sea of Barbies and My Little Ponies that littered the floor. Once I arrived at Taylor's bed, I did a very smooth exchange of tooth for money. It was freaking ninja-like. I was beaming with self-worth until the cat started meowing, which was my signal to run.

I turned and hop-scotched my way out, checking over my shoulder for any poison-tipped arrows that may have been following. There was none, and I collapsed in the hallway, breathless and wondering just what I could get on Ebay for a “slightly used” tooth.

Taylor never woke up.

All in all, things went pretty smoothly. I was quite proud of myself until I realized that I will have to do this another four hundred times for all of her and my two other daughters’ teeth.
From now on, maybe I'll wear a pink dress and some cardboard wings just in case.

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