Breaking news from the Goddard-Williams household: Five-and-a-half-year-old Toby has a wiggly tooth! So, I’m curious to know: What’s the going rate for the tooth fairy? A quarter? $1? $5? I asked some fellow parents, and their answers made me laugh…
“We forget, far too often! Once for almost a week! Agh! We give $2, but when we’re late we pay self-imposed interest.” — Rony
“We do a single gold dollar sprinkled with glitter. I stock the gold dollars ahead of time and travel with them and the glitter if there is a wiggly tooth. We don’t do notes — I feel like that’s how you get in trouble. Haven’t been caught yet though it always makes me nervous.” — Megan
“$1! For the record, my kids love getting money, but five minutes later it means nothing to them. Side note: When we moved cross-country, we shipped our dresser empty. When we were unpacking, I heard something rattling and it was one of Stella’s baby teeth. There was something so disgusting about having an old body part in our furniture that I resolved to throw away all future teeth.” — Kendra
“When Alex lost his first tooth, my husband and I got into the spirit. We designed a form from the tooth fairy who works in the Department of Dental Enchantment and left $5.” — Abbey
“This week, Edie lost her first tooth and put it under her pillow. We talked all about it, and then I totally passed out and forgot to leave anything! She came into my room the next morning hysterically crying. I ended up writing an apology note from the tooth fairy saying that she wasn’t able to find it. Then the next night I gave her $10 because that’s all I had in my wallet, even though it was a ridiculous amount of money. But I decorated Hamilton to look like a fairy, which she appreciated.” — Lina
“We crept in and tucked a note from the tooth fairy instructing Henry to follow clues to his prize. He hunted around the apartment following a trail of post-its that we’d stuck along the walls. They led him to a Nerf sword. He was beyond thrilled!” — Samantha
“We leave a dollar bill folded into origami, like a ring or plane.” — Nandini
“We give $5 and a little Lego figurine. The hardest thing is just remembering. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve woken up brokenhearted that the Tooth Fairy forgot. We always make some excuse like, ‘We forgot to crack the window.’ I finally learned to set the alarm on my iPhone as soon as I remember it.” — Jordan
“When I was little, my parents would leave $1 and a note from the tooth fairy, so I did the same with my daughter. I upped the ante, though: I wrote rhyming poems every time in flowery handwriting. Also — and I should preface this by saying that we are Jewish — on the subway one morning, Lila asked me point blank, “Wait, is the tooth fairy real?” I was taken by surprise, totally unprepared, but I felt that at her age (she was 8 or so) I couldn’t lie to her face, so I said, “Well, no.” She was shocked and devastated, and had so many questions — so who writes the notes? Who leaves the money? Etc. And I told her. She couldn’t believe it — “Parents?!?!” And I said, yeah, it’s like Santa Claus. And she said, “SANTA CLAUS IS PARENTS??!” — Anna
I also spoke to Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, to get his take on the tooth fairy racket.
“I’ve heard stories of kids getting $100 bills for their first tooth,” he told me, “but there are other ways to make your kids feel special. I know parents who give their twins foreign bills and coins, which inspires conversations about different countries. With the first tooth, they bought them Throw Your Tooth on the Roof, a great book about tooth traditions around the world. Another couple I know in San Francisco bought animal teeth from a natural history store, and every time their kids lost a tooth, they’d get an animal tooth, along with a note written backwards from the tooth fairy with clues about which animal the tooth came from. They’d hold it up to the mirror to read it. You don’t have to go to that extreme for each and every tooth, but these are reminders that there’s always an opportunity to do something creative that doesn’t just involve spending more.”
When you were growing up, what did you get from the tooth fairy? What do you leave for your kids?
(Photo of baby Adele.)