Motherhood

Oops! A Little Mishap

Toby

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has made this parenting gaffe…

Toby, at 8 years old, is obsessed with nothing more than losing teeth, and after much anticipation, wiggling and apple-eating, he finally lost his sixth one! He gingerly put it in a sandwich baggie and placed it under his pillow.

Cut to the next morning: The sweet sleepy little boy climbed into our bed at 5:30 a.m. “I have some sad news,” he whispered. “Oh yeah?” I answered groggily, my eyes still closed.

“The tooth fairy didn’t come.”

MY EYES SHOT OPEN. Oh my gosh, I had completely forgotten. My mind raced for ways to figure it out: Should I elbow Alex to sneak out of bed and put a dollar in Toby’s bed? Could I pretend to get a glass of water and do it myself?

In the end, I told Toby that the tooth fairy must have been sick or busy, and that she would surely leave an extra treat the following night to make up for it.

(Of course, that morning at school drop-off, he showed his missing tooth gap to every adult in sight. “What did the tooth fairy bring???” they all asked. “She didn’t come,” Toby replied. “She feels TERRIBLE,” I added.)

The next night, he got a whopping $2 and a pack of Maltesers.

Have you ever forgotten to leave a tooth fairy gift? My friend Cailin is one of seven kids and says her parents forgot almost every time. (Although who can blame them? That’s 140 teeth.)

When my friend Rob forgot, he had a funny idea: That morning, he put $1 under a different pillow and told his child that the tooth fairy must have gotten confused in the dark. “A few days later, I put another dollar under another pillow, and it became a fun thing,” he said. “We started joking about where else she might have left money.”

P.S. The going rate for the tooth fairy, and Toby goes on a dinner date.

  1. Shannon says...

    I liked unusual currency as a kid so the tooth fairy would bring me a $2 bill or a bicentennial quarter – that sort of thing. I was cleaning out my childhood room and realized that there were only a few coins in an envelope I had clearly labeled as from the tooth fairy. My mom then had to fess up that she recycled the same few coins or currency … I never noticed.

  2. Emily says...

    TOO MANY TIMES! I have told my girls that the tooth fairy’s flying regulations don’t allow her into rooms with operating fans. I’m a pediatric dentist, so I let kids in my office who are getting a tooth pulled know that the tooth fairy gives more money for teeth pulled by a dentist. The parents always look quite pleased with me!

  3. Em says...

    I wish I had the time to go through all the comments to see if I’m repeating someone, but has anyone listened to the episode of This American Life with the adult who tells the story about what happened when she found out her friends’ dad was the tooth fairy? It’s right here in the prologue, and so funny that I have admittedly pretended the storyteller was an acquaintance of mine as a guaranteed way to get laughs in a group. LISTEN! https://www.thisamericanlife.org/188/kid-logic/prologue

  4. Kathy says...

    Never full-on forgot. Woke up at 3am in a panic a few times, and once at about 6am. Finding cash was often a challenge, but the biggest mountain of all was THE NOTES. My daughter liked to write notes to the tooth fairy (and Santa, and the Easter Bunny), so the tooth fairy had to respond. On tissue paper. In very tiny little writing with a very sharp pencil. The sleep-deprived tooth fairy did her best.

  5. Jess says...

    I am the worst tooth fairy ever. I always forget. My best tooth fairy moment though: My mom sends my kids dollars in the mail occasionally and writes their name on each bill. I will usually put this money in my purse until we put it away or they spend it. Yep, these dollars (WITH HER SIBLINGS NAMES ON THEM) ended up under my oldest daughter’s pillow one night.

  6. Hilla says...

    Luckily we only leave a gift for the first tooth….so it is a bigger event and usualy you get something that is more expensive like a gold necklace…but the fairy is never expected to leave money or to remember all your teeth :-) usualy by the 4th tooth the child is already 6 or so and their friends have already told them that it is from the parents and that there are no fairies :-(

  7. Terri says...

    I’m only on the 6th tooth and haven’t forgotten yet but our tooth fairy has run into a different dilemma several times – NO cash!!! We routinely borrow money from my son’s piggy bank for the tooth fairy then have to replace it on the sly after a run to the bank a day or two later. :)

  8. Elizabeth Spence says...

    I was great at remembering to put the money under my son’s pillow until he lost his 5th tooth. When this tooth fell out he asked me how the tooth fairy can be real since fairies aren’t real. The conversation snowballed from there with question after question and confession after confession about Santa, the Easter bunny, Dinovember etc. It was a sad day but my son was pretty accepting. We agreed to proceed as per normal (“if you don’t believe then you don’t recieve”) but the thrill of losing a tooth was lost and he forgot to put the tooth under his pillow. By the time he remembered to do it, the pressure and occassion had gone out of the whole thing so then I forgot to pay! It eventually took us about two weeks to sort our selves out by which time he had lost another tooth!

  9. I have definitely forgotten! I used a similar excuse as you and felt like such a failure. But the most recent time my son lost a tooth (his 7th, he’s almost 8 as well) we both forgot to put it under his pillow. It was a week later that I remembered and said “Charlie! We never put your tooth under your pillow!!” We laughed and laughed that we both forgot. He was worried that the tooth fairy wouldn’t come since it was a week later but I told him that she knows we sometimes forget too :)

    When I was a kid I went looking in my mom’s jewelry box and found all of my teeth that I had lost. I was mortified and asked my mom why she had my teeth. She told me that moms can’t part with them so after the tooth fairy takes them she gives them to the moms to save forever <3 PS- That was some quick thinking, mom! :)

    • Heather says...

      Haha! Oh man! My 10 yr old just found a bunch of teeth in my jewelry box…luckily my jewellery box is from my nana and so he just assumed the teeth were my aunt’s and uncle’s teeth. I told him that the tooth fairy takes them and uses them to build castles and all sorts of fun structures (all part of our tooth fairy story) and that when these structures need to be replaced all the old teeth go back to the moms of the kids when the kids are 30 because moms just love to have their kid’s teeth. I feel our tooth fairy story getting more and more elaborate every time but I love keeping the magic alive…

  10. JennyH says...

    Yes, we have forgotten!!! We use the gold $1 Sacagawea coins. They are “special” because they are gold. One night it was late when I remembered, and I couldn’t find any coins. Fortunately I remembered that the car wash in town sometimes dispensed them out when using the change machines for the vacuums, my husband ran out and as luck would have it, we got a coin. We now keep a roll up in the closet.

    • Jennifer C. says...

      Oh my gosh! That is exactly what we did with our son! It wasn’t planned but when he lost his first tooth, I just so happened to have one in my purse. We used that and he was amazed at the “golden dollar”! The very next day, I bought a roll and we were never without a golden dollar when he would lose a tooth!

  11. ashley says...

    omg this happened to me! except my kid woke up at 5am in tears and we convinced him that it was still nighttime and he had to go back to sleep because there was still time. phew! now we send emails to ourselves and set timers on our phones as soon as a tooth falls out. 😂

  12. Catherine says...

    We have ten children and yes, many times the tooth fairy left an apologetic note the next evening. On one occasion when I almost forgot, I realized I had no change. I asked my husband if he had a dollar in his wallet. He handed me the bill and I tiptoed into the room and slipped it under the pillow. The next morning our son came down with a smile from ear to ear. The tooth fairy had left him a 20 dollar bill! I calmly announced that the tooth fairy must really love him and then rolled my eyes at my husband. Needless to say, his other siblings were not happy.

  13. Brooke Reynolds says...

    When I was a kid I asked the tooth fairy to draw a picture of what she looked like. I was thinking of the blue fairy in Pinocchio, with beautiful wings and long hair.
    When I woke up the next morning, I checked my pillow and found a drawing from my tooth fairy! It was of a lumberjack with a big ax and a burly beard. I thought it was so weird that everyone else had cute fairies, and I had a lumberjack for a tooth fairy.

  14. Mali says...

    We have five kids, so we forget a little too frequently. Once, when one of the kids was particularly disappointed, we arranged for one of my husband’s friends to call from England and say that he was the tooth fairy and that he was away on vacation but would be back soon. My daughter kept saying, “How can it be that the tooth fairy is a MAN?!”

  15. Erin says...

    Forgot. Every. Time. I started implementing a new rule; you had to yell “hey Tooth fairy, I’m putting a tooth out!” before bed to foil those ones who hid the tooth in secret. I finally resorted to saying the Tooth fairy is sometimes too tired to fly upstairs so let’s leave in on the kitchen counter for her. Yeah, she still forgot……signed, Mother of Triplets.

    • S says...

      This is the best. I love making new family rules that have one very specific purpose. My most recent new rule to avoid forgetfulness was, “if you want a lunch packed because you have a field trip or don’t like hot lunch, write a post it and place it on the coffee pot” – mom of two and teacher of many many many students

  16. Maureen says...

    One of my favorite tooth fairy stories is from my friend Sarah. One of her kids lost a tooth on a family vacation at a cottage with a bunch of cousins and extended family. When she slipped in to leave the $ under her son’s pillow, in a room with about 8 kids sleeping, from the dark she heard one of the cousin’s say, “I saw what you did Aunt Sarah!!” LOL

    • Karine says...

      Hahahah that is so funny!

  17. Anne says...

    Once when I was a kid the tooth fairy forgot to come. The next morning under my pillows had a printed out email from her apologizing. The email said that the tooth notification system had gone down so she didn’t know until the next day! So, I got an email and my dollar!

  18. Audrey says...

    Hahah! I’m an only child and my parents forgot almost every time! I still believed every excuse they made for that disorganized fairy…

  19. Maren says...

    In Germany in the last decade or so it has become a thing for some families to have the “Schnuller-Fee” come. That means “pacifier-fairy”. If a kid feels ready to chuck the pacifier, they leave it under the pillow or tie it to the bed and it will be gone in the morning. The Schnuller-Fee will have left a little gift by the bed. In our family it is usually a little book or a litte trinket or toy figure, nothing too expensive.

  20. One time when I lost a tooth, we were on a two week road trip in an RV and my parents forgot (who can blame them with 3 kids on the go!). The next night, my little sister felt so sorry for me that she took one of her own dollars and snuck up to my cot to slip it under my pillow…only to find that the “tooth fairy” had beat her to it. She could hardly wait to tell us all the next morning that the tooth fairy was real, ha!

    • That is such a sweet story! Nothing like the bond between sisters <3

  21. Victoria Haynes says...

    This literally JUST happened to me (well, to my daughter). I heard her little feet stomping out of bed and I bolted up and said “Oh sh*t I forgot to be the tooth fairy!”
    She came in holding her little baggie with the tooth and gave me the saddest face.
    The funniest thing is that she knows it’s me. She’ll say knowingly “I wonder what YOU’LL bring me tonight!” and then whisper “don’t worry, I won’t spoil the secret for my brother”. This time I just gave her a hug and said “Listen, the tooth fairy sometimes gets held up on Sundays, but she pays interest. Plus, I heard she has a lot going on and is starting a new job. Please forgive her.” She did!

  22. Kirsten says...

    When my son lost his first tooth, we were visiting my family out-of-state. Everyone was so excited and wanted to play the tooth fairy. I find out the next morning that my mom, dad, and brother, all separately slipped in his room that night to give him money. My son woke up ecstatic to almost $30 in earnings! I had to thank everyone for really setting the bar for a single mother to keep up :) My son is 16 now and we still laugh about that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha oh my gosh, that is so cute, kirsten! what a loving family.

    • Kiera says...

      This reminds me of a similar story – last summer we had some friends visiting from out of town, and while we were all at dinner, their son lost a tooth. Not only did he manage to collect money from everyone at the table, but a few strangers nearby overheard and contributed to his pot as well! Lucky kid probably made at least $50 that night.

  23. Maris says...

    I figured out immediately that the tooth fairy was indeed my mom. This didn’t wreck my fantasy, but somehow my 5 year old brain had the wherewithal to exploit this revelation. For the next week, I had visits from the trash fairy (who exchanged a candy wrapper for a $1 bill), the penny fairy (who upgraded a penny to a $1) and so on…until my mom finally caught onto my game.

  24. LOL, reminds me of the time I only had $20 bills in my wallet. I had no small change to leave, so very quietly, while he slept, opened my sons wallet to “borrow” enough small change to place under his pillow for the tooth fairy. Yes, I did replace his money : )

  25. Laurie says...

    Oh, man, this brings back memories. My former husband is a dentist and I was a dental hygienist. You would have thought that we would have been tuned in to all things tooth related. Sadly, no. When our daughter lost her first tooth (she was the oldest so we were tooth fairy rookies), we totally forgot to leave anything (a quarter was the going rate). When she sadly reported that the tooth fairy didn’t come, one of us crept back in to while the other distracted her. We told her to look again, and I think she bought it, but it was a close call!

  26. Court says...

    I remember playing in my mom’s jewelry box when I was little and stumbling upon a bag FULL OF HUMAN TEETH! I was like what is this!? And she just said, “Oh those are my old teeth.” I was completely satisfied with that answer (!!!). Now that I think about it, I realized she couldn’t throw our teeth away because it was too sentimental. It makes me tear up thinking about how she was holding on to our old teeth snuggling them next to her precious diamonds and jewelry. So kids believe anything and motherhood is such a heart-wrenching, teeth-saving journey.

    • M says...

      My mom still has all of my old teeth, too. It’s always jarring when I go into her jewelry box to borrow a pair of earrings. She even brought them with her when she moved across the country. I will probably inherit them some day…

  27. “I have some sad news.” Oh, sweet Toby!

  28. Alex says...

    At about six or seven years old we were travelling and staying with some friends in the UK when I lost a tooth. However, my tooth fairy turned out to be a bit of a dud and totally forgot about her tooth fairy duties! I, like Toby, was very disappointed.

    So my mum phoned the tooth fairy! Yep, she dialled out the numbers corresponding with F-A-I-R-Y on the old-school cordless brick and ‘talked’ to my tooth fairy. Mum relayed that the tooth fairy was very apologetic and she didn’t realise we were travelling. So my mum told her our friends’ address and the tooth fairy promised she’d collect it that night.

    Cut to the next morning, and the my tooth fairy still hadn’t collected my tooth! Cue dialling the tooth fairy on the brick phone yet again and mum exasperatedly reminding my sweet doozy of a tooth fairy to collect my tooth! (Which now that I think about it, must’ve been hilarious and a touch guilt-ridden for her!)

    But at long last and after all of the fairy phone calls, my tooth fairy came that night.

    (All this and I had already figured out that the tooth fairy wasn’t real — but I chose to keep on believing for a little longer anyway!)

  29. Zsuzsa says...

    Luckily, in Hungary we dont have this tooth fairy thing.

  30. Chelsea says...

    I remember this happening to me as a child. I woke up in the morning and my tooth was still there, I told my mom and she said to try again the next night because the tooth fairy must have forgot . It’s funny how kids just believe what you say. The fact that the tooth fairy maybe was sick makes as much sense as her existing at all. I dont think I’ve thought about it until just now reading this (25 or so years later) so I am sure Tobey will shrug it off.

    • Cindy says...

      I read this and thought,”OH, NO!” but as embark on my 30th year as a mom and 35th as an elementary educator that has coaxed countless loose teeth out of itchy, swollen gums, fished tiny pearls out of enormous trash cans, written letters of explanation to the Tooth Fairy for swallowed or lost tooth treasures– I’ve come to a very different conclusion. It is not ALL about the teeth. I believe it is more about proof we are growing older and faith in kindness we can not see. Although it is the Tooth Fairy’s JOB, is it not a bit of a magic to witness a child show empathy for an overworked fairy? Does this early lesson allow us to possibly forgive ourselves at our most vulnerable as well? To all you busy, young Tooth Fairies, I send a hug and belief that this “slip up” might be a hidden blessing. I see proof in the kind, lovely woman of faith MY Chelsea has become in the last 25 years.

  31. Dimara says...

    Do we have to do the tooth fairy? Any families out there that don’t do it? We’ve been really honest about Santa and the Easter Bunny – talking more about what the holidays/seasons mean, how these stories originated. It feels weird to make a whole thing for teeth. I don’t know. I love the comment from the reader who got charms for every tooth.

    • Dimara, my daughter figured out the tooth fairy wasn’t real before she lost her first tooth. I had a hard time lying so once she figures things out and asks the questions, it’s all over. But now that she knows, she still thinks it’s fun for me to sneak in her room and leave something. We don’t do money, just tiny treasures I’ll find for cheap.

    • Katherine says...

      We do the Easter Mummy and the Tooth Daddy etc. The kids totally know it’s us. We wanted totally honesty too but figured we’d still go in for the silly fun bit. However. When you forget the tooth money, well, there’s no blaming a vacationing/over worked/unwell fairy. It’s just all guilt, all day! Oops!

    • Nathalie says...

      Of course you don’t ;-) I might be wrong, but as a European, I find these tooth fairy/Santa/Easter Bunny traditions very American somehow and can’t relate at all to them. I don’t think they are done by everyone here in the same way (I’ve lived in 3 European countries so I can’t generalise but I think I have a reasonable sample). Rather, each country or region has different traditions, especially around Christmas, and even then, each family has different things they like to celebrate! I think it is much nicer to choose a way of celebrating milestones that means something to you. that is personal. My daughter is only 2.5 yr old, but I already prefer to tell her about holidays and the passing of seasons rather than “lying” to her about fictional characters. When she will lose her teeth, we’ll celebrate this milestone and then put the teeth into a box, as my parent’s did with mine.

    • Karen says...

      But aren’t you at all worried about the omission of cultivating imagination, mystery & mysticism? I immigrated to this country from Central America and my parents didn’t believe in the tooth fairy. Instead, they believed in a rat that lives on the roof of your house to which you throw your baby teeth…. so I had to be the tooth fairy to my little sister. I live a jaded life while my sister is more… creative, artsy and imaginative. I’m sure it’s not all thanks to the tooth fairy and Santa Clause but I’m sure it has played a role in her development. Or no?

    • B says...

      Oh Karen, actually I’m with you… my kids all know the tooth fairy/Santa isn’t real, but that’s it’s ‘fun to pretend’…. and OH the imagination and fun they have with it! They don’t seem phased that it’s not real, they just enjoy the magic of it all – I feel like it’s a good balance of make-believe without actually ‘lying’ to them! Haha :) go kids, they’re all so sweet aren’t they?!

    • Susan says...

      Hi-
      We handle the tooth fairy/Easter bunnies and Santa the same way. That is, we tell our son if they are real to him and his imagination, then they are real. He knows lots of children don’t feel the same and that’s ok. For us, that’s part of knowing that belief systems vary by person and being comfortable with what you believe is what matters.

    • Sandy says...

      We never did the tooth fairy! We do Santa Clause and Leprechaun mischief on St. Patrick’s day. Not sure why I did not start the tradition of tooth fairy! I just felt that falling off every teeth does not need monetary rewards or more candy from a magical creature who sneaks into their bedroom. Ofcourse, we celebrated the falling off the first tooth with a special dinner.

    • JB says...

      I have to agree with the latter comments too. My mom never let me believe in Santa and there definitely was a lack of wonder and magic in my childhood. It was pretty straightforward and not very fun.

  32. Allison says...

    When I was a kid, I was afraid of the tooth fairy coming into my room at night while I was sleeping so my parents wrote a note for me and taped it to the door directing the tooth fairy to the dining room table. The next morning I found a quarter and a teeny tiny little note in itsy bitsy handwriting scrolled up. The tooth fairy totally understood and was happy to oblige. I was thrilled at the tiny handwritten note from the tooth fairy herself! I will never forget it. Way to go, Mom! Major parenting win!

    • Julie says...

      So cute! But in the same vein… I also got a teeny tiny rolled up note in my tooth box* but then spent breakfast the next morning interrogating my dad about why the Tooth Fairy’s handwriting looked the same as his. Hahaha.

      *I had a tiny little box to put my tooth in, instead of under my pillow. Makes WAY more sense as an adult to put it in a box because its much easier to rescue/switch out!

  33. Amanda says...

    I was 5 or 6 when my parents forgot the first time. I remember telling my mom that the tooth fairy hadn’t come the next morning and, without missing a beat, my mom asked, “well, did you do anything you weren’t supposed to?” I wracked my little brain trying to figure out how I’d misbehaved! My mom told me later that she panicked in the moment and it was the first thing she thought of to cover her tracks. I’m 25 now and still tease her about the Tooth Fairy Complex she gave me. ;)

  34. Tara says...

    My boys are now 13 and almost 15 but back in the day, we got two rolls of golden dollars (with Sacajawea on them!) that became the Tooth Fairy Currency. Once our youngest lost two teeth in something like four days. The Tooth Fairy totally blew it and forgot to deliver the golden dollars for the second tooth. We had all seen “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti” IMAX after he lost the first tooth and the Tooth Fairy wrote a note to let Elliott know that she had not expected to have to return to our house so quickly so was on vacation, surfing in Tahiti. We read the note together and he nodded his head solemnly and said “Of course! That’s where the best waves are, Mom!” :)

  35. Naomi says...

    She’s lost three teeth. We remembered the first time (though I had to go find a bank that evening after work to get silver dollars… which was not as easy as I thought)… The second time we forgot (told her the tooth fairy must not have seen the tooth yet – “try again tonight”) and the third time I forgot we had the silver dollars stashed away and I ran out at 9pm to buy something at CVS. Not a good track record… but she didn’t notice a thing!

  36. I just did this with my daughter. She was heart broken and I felt like a total failure. BUT!!! I hid some money in my palm and asked if she had looked under the bed, and VOILA we found the goods! We figured out that she must have dropped it out of her bag in the dark. Sometimes you win at parenting and sometimes you forget about the tooth fairy and put the laundry in the oven.

  37. Lainie says...

    I’ve done the “it must have fallen in the floor, let’s look” ( while mom or dad frantically search for cash) then “oh look, here it is under _____” ,more times than I’d care to admit. There’s also the ” well, some nights are busy for the tooth fairy, lets try again tonight” strategy I’ve also used. Parents are human & we have A LOT on our minds:)

  38. Mallory says...

    What a sweet picture of Toby!

  39. Laney S says...

    I have not only made the mistake of forgetting, but my daughter found the teeth that should have gone to the tooth fairy. I quickly explained to her that I am very sentimental and wanted to keep those little teeth. So I snuck in and left my own note for the Tooth Fairy, to please leave money, but put the teeth under my pillow so I could keep them. She bought the story. My husband was impressed with my on the spot explanation, and quite honestly, so was I.

  40. Meredith says...

    I’ve done the same thing, twice. The first happened to be a night when it snowed (which doesn’t happen often where we live), so I told my daughter that perhaps the tooth fairy was delayed due to weather. The next night, I included a note that said, “so sorry I missed picking up your tooth last night, I got lost in the snow and wasn’t able to visit your house before sunrise”. Seemed to do the trick. Also, the tooth fairy frequently writes notes, in a very swirly script, with a glitter pen. Because, we’ll, she’s a fairy (she also left a trail of glitter to our house after the very first lost tooth, but we clarified that this “usually only happens when a FIRST tooth is lost”).

  41. Erica says...

    When our daughter lost her first tooth, I dutifully put a pound coin (this is England) under her pillow and instructed my husband to put the tooth away somewhere safe. I wasn’t ready to toss it in the bin, but I wasn’t sure where to store it. Next day, my daughter wanders into my husband’s office – having already collected her pound coin prize – and shouted “mama! The tooth fairy left my tooth on daddy’s desk!” I told her that the tooth fairy’s bag must have been overflowing with teeth and the tooth slipped out on her way out the window. Her response, “do you think I can put it under my pillow again tonight and get another pound?” I let her give it a try, rewarded her with 50p (initiative!) and made my husband promise NEVER to be so sloppy about tooth storage ever again.

  42. Lauren E. says...

    I cannot wait until your boys are old enough to read the archives of this blog!! It’ll be like a diary they didn’t even know they were keeping.

    Semi unrelated aside: my mother recently told me that our old neighbor used to rat me out when my high school boyfriend came over after my mom had left for work in the mornings. I was, 16 years later, totally mortified.

    • Karen says...

      Do tell more about the rat-ing out! Did you ever wonder how your mom knew about you having company over? Or did she never bring it up til 16 yrs later?

  43. Allie says...

    My tooth fairy forgot to come once, but the next day she left me a typed apology letter that was probably size .5 font explaining that her friend, Tinkerbell, had gotten sick the night before and she had to take her soup, etc. I almost needed a magnifying glass to read it. The letter was meticulously folded up into a tiny square and had fairy dust (sugar) sprinkled inside it and a couple of quarters alongside it. Didn’t know that fairies had access to a computer, but you learn something new every day, right? (For the record, it was my sweet father who did all that.)

  44. My son lost his first tooth on at 10:30 pm just one week after my partner unexpectedly left by not coming home on a Friday night. So there I was, a suddenly single mama with a dilemma. The only money I had on hand was my emergency pizza $20. I debated running out to the local zippy mart after my son fell asleep but, given the recent family trauma, my son was terrified I would leave. So that option was out. Instead, I tucked the $20 under his pillow with a note explaining that this was a one-time only Tooth Fairy surprise for his first tooth. When he woke up the next morning he was thrilled. Over the next few days, he told everyone about his Tooth Fairy $20 and other parents would look at me as if I had broken the silent parent code and I would smile and say nothing……I hardly wanted to reveal the painful truth. I also laid in a supply of dollar bills for the subsequent teeth.

    It took a couple of years before I could tell this story and laugh. These days, it’s a distant memory. The little boy in question is now 18 and heading off to college in a few weeks. He loves the story of the $20 he got for his first tooth (and still doesn’t know the back story).

    • Becca says...

      Oh my god, my heart. You really never know what others are going through at any moment.

    • Chelsea says...

      So sweet. I got a bit teary reading this.

  45. As a calligrapher, Melissa Esplin’s tooth fairy tradition is one of my favorites: https://www.melissaesplin.com/2018/02/best-tooth-fairy-ever/ How cute is that?

    Each tooth earned me a silver dollar when I was a kid and still have them today (stored away somewhere). I don’t have children, but if I did I’m almost positive the tooth fairy would forget to come at least once – don’t feel too bad, Joanna!

    • Cari says...

      When we forgot – which sadly happened several times- my husband would write up a silly apology note and print it out using a tiny cursive font. Our girls loved the notes even more than the money. I’ll bet Melissa’s children save all their tiny envelopes forever!

  46. Putting it under a different pillow is brilliant! I’m going to use that! I remember that whenever my mom would forget, she told me that I must not have left my window open so the tooth fairy couldn’t get into my room.

  47. Meg says...

    One night, my daughter pulled her tooth out after she had already gone to bed. She tucked it under her pillow without sharing the news, so I didn’t even know she’d lost it! The next morning she came out of her bedroom crying and I was bewildered. When she explained what happened I made up a story about how if a tooth comes out after bedtime, the tooth fairy doesn’t come until the NEXT night.

    Our other funny tooth-related story is that she unknowingly swallowed one of her teeth at school one day. At pick-up, I noticed she was missing a tooth and we figured out what must have happened. She started crying, convinced the tooth fairy wouldn’t come. I explained to her that she could just write a note to the tooth fairy but she was sure that wouldn’t work. Then one of her friends noticed she was crying and came over to find out why. The friend said, “just put a note under your pillow!” And my daughter was instantly consoled…doubted me, but took her friend’s word for it!

    • Twyla says...

      My dad always warned us to be careful not to swallow a tooth that came out because it would come out and bite us in the bum! I give that same warning to every kid I meet with a loose tooth and they always giggle like crazy.

  48. Jen B says...

    We did not forget the first tooth , subsequent teeth were a different story. I would put a dollar coin ( the tooth fairy uses fancy money) inside the pillow case if I forgot, and have them go back and double check :)

  49. Spycegurl says...

    Last time i forgot, my then 6 year old noticed that he suddenly had the newfound ability to snap his fingers. He’s convinced that the tooth fairy brought him that instead of money!

    • Ro says...

      OMG that is SO ADORABLE

    • Shakti says...

      Precious bunny!

    • B says...

      BAHAHA so cute!!

  50. Jennifer says...

    Oh this is so funny. I’m sure every parent has done it at least once. It happened to me when I was a kid, about Toby’s age. I remember running to my mom in tears, “The tooth fairy didn’t come!” She said, “Well maybe she had a lot of teeth last night and is running late. Go ahead and get ready for school and maybe she’ll have come by the time we leave.” She added to avoid going back into my room, because the tooth fairy wouldn’t want to me to see her. (Ha.) Sure enough, after I ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, etc., I checked under my pillow, and voila!

  51. Kay says...

    I used to get my children to put the tooth fairy pillow at the top of the stairs so the tooth fairy can find it easily as soon as she goes upstairs. That way I always saw it on my way toned and it never got forgotten.

    • Cora says...

      Brillant!

  52. michele gross says...

    One morning as the tooth fairy went to place the money under the pillow of my youngest, a little note was visible in mispelled, childish scribble— “I knew it was you Mom”. That was the end of the tooth fairy!

  53. Lauren says...

    Our tooth fairy, Dentia, has forgotten to come many a time. Usually she will leave a teeny, tiny note the following night blaming the child’s parents for being up much too late and being unable to come.

  54. Julie Lanctôt says...

    I have two kids and yes, the tooth fairy showed up the next day a few times because she was “sick or too busy”! And my son, in his excitment, has lost his last three teeth that fell off. Once, he ran out to show his friend who lives close by and the teeth fell in the street. So there we were, 4 people, head bent down, looking for a tiny white thing in the street (and I live in the country so the streets aren’t paved!). When you make a parenting gaffe, remember you are never alone…

  55. Margaret says...

    Almost Every Time!!!!!!!

    My older daughter gives me the side eye when I forget (2 nights in a row) for my younger….. Sometimes I slip in there during breakfast a bit out of the way and say “Oh you must not have seen it the first time”.

    Also NO consistency on amount.

  56. Laura says...

    When I was growing up the tooth fairy wasn’t something I/we believed in, so I guess that saved my parents a lot of worries of putting money under my pillow on time. I did however get a silver charm for every tooth I lost, usually in a shape representing the place I lived at the time ( we moved around a lot) or visited on holiday. What started as a charm bracelet soon became a necklace and eventually (when I stopped losing teeth) I also recieved charms for life events: a little silver cap charm for elementary school graduation, a little candy charm for my sweet sixteen, etc. The final charm I got was a tiny engagement ring charm when I got married last year. I love that I now have a necklace that tells the story of my childhood in charms. Whenever I wear it always is such an conversation starter and statement piece. And though I might have preferred the money (=sweets) as a child I now love that my parents approached the tooth fairy concept in such an unique way.

    • Becca says...

      I love this idea so much. I wasn’t raised believing in Santa or the Easter Bunny but my mom did the Tooth Fairy thing for a while. I was very skeptical (I’d leave notes interrogating the Tooth Fairy and demanding that she tell me what she looked like) and felt like an idiot when I found out the truth. Now as a childcare worker, I hear parents discussing what the going rate for teeth is, and expressing concern that their kid will be the one in their class with the “cheap” fairy. It just makes me sad. I like this idea so much more.

  57. Vicki says...

    I’ve definitely forgot! We go with the are you sure? Look again, palm the money and drop in the bed – their beds are always messy and they have had the experience of not being able to find a lovey in their sheet and then finding it so it works.
    But the first time my second son lost his tooth, I did remember so he came in so sad that she had taken the tooth but not given him anything! And I knew I had done it so We had to go and ransack his bed, he was ready to give up – but I knew it was in there! Finally I put my hand in the pillowcase and there it was … $5! (Because with my first son I didn’t have $1 so he got $5 and I told him first teeth were special and of course he passed on the news) The tooth fairy is rough!

  58. Allison says...

    Maybe we can try to not overdo it with the tooth fairy (as we middle-upper-class parents tend to over-do most things these days related to our kids), and give parents a break, and not let kids think that this is the end-all, be-all. There are other more important things in life, right?

  59. Cherie says...

    The tooth fairy had flawless attendance for my first child, but was prone to forgetfulness with my second ;) one morning, after forgetting yet again, I suggested that perhaps the tooth fairy doesn’t do pickups in messy rooms. It’s a workplace safety issue. Perhaps she would try again in a few days, if the unsafe conditions improved? Bedroom was cleaned up pronto (and the tooth fairy was able to make a successful pickup and coin drop on her return)

    • Oh my goodness, I love this! Isn’t it amazing what motivates a child to tidy up their room?

  60. Sally Nicholson says...

    I remember losing a tooth, putting it under my pillow and waking up the next morning to find that The Tooth Fairy Had Forgotten!

    I marched into my parents room, feeling all aggrieved, told them what had happened, to which a sleepy parental voice replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

    My sister, however, decided to test the tooth fairy theory. She lost a tooth, didn’t tell anyone, put it under her pillow, and then discovered that it wasn’t collected the next morning. Thereby proving that the tooth fairy wasn’t real.

  61. Lea says...

    I’ll probably forget when It’s our time to get visits from the tooth fairy. Our four year old daughter is already super excited about the tooth fairy and regulary checks her mouth for loose teeth. She thinks that the tooth fairy uses all the teeth from children to building a nice new castle.
    However, we recently met a homeless man on the street, who barely had any teeth left. We started chatting with him and suddenly our daughter looked at him and said: “When I loose my teeth, I’ll leave a note for the tooth fairy to let her know, that she should bring my teeth to you instead of using them for her castle. I’m sure she’ll understand that you’ll be happier with them than she will.” The man chuckled and thanked her. I was equally mortified and amazed about the generosity that children have.

  62. Emily L says...

    My 11 year old had a tooth pulled at the dentist. I didn’t give it a thought until the next morning when he informed us he had put the tooth under his pillow the night before. Of course, he awoke to the tooth still there, came to me and said, “You owe me a dollar!”

  63. Lucia says...

    My mom was lucky to have a backup. My brother is 9 years older so when I was loosing teeth he was a teenager. One morning I was telling my mom how the tooth fairy had forgotten to come and my brother came to the rescue with a story about how he found a dollar in the hallway that morning so the tooth fairy must have lost it. It was very sweet of him and I was stoked because the tooth fairy usually only left a quarter.

  64. Rebecca says...

    I don’t remember if my parents ever forgot, but one year I lost a tooth down the sink, and was INCONSOLABLE that I wouldn’t have the tooth for the tooth fairy. I was worried she would be disappointed! So my mum took me downstairs to write a note explaining.

    In the meantime, my sweet, quiet grandfather, who was a plumber, had a word with my dad, borrowed a toolbox, and went and rescued my tooth from the u-bend in the sink, where he had been pretty sure it would settle! I was more excited and impressed by this than I ever had been by the tooth fairy. It’s such a strong memory of my lovely Granda.

  65. Caz says...

    I am just seeing this post…after 230 comments but thought I’d chime in and say, yes!!!! I totally forgot one night!!! I put the coins in later and told her to go check again! We can’t remember every single thing all the time. I forgave myself!

  66. Anna says...

    Once my dad asked me, “So did the tooth fairy leave you anything?” With wide eyes I said, “Dad, the tooth fairy? Is a MAN!” Busted! (Kind of.)

  67. Pip says...

    Too many times now! Just have coin in hand and move around under pillow as though you are trying to feel for it and let it slip down.
    Children want to believe more than to prove you’re really the tooth fairy.

  68. Ange says...

    I thought I would be a wonderful tooth fairy representative to my children and even sewed them little tooth pocket pillows…but lo and behold I am the absolute worst! So bad that my 11 year old lost a tooth recently and asked if she could just grab a dollar from my wallet….womp womp womp!

  69. Tracy O says...

    I love the topic and comments. You are SO not alone! When I blew it on a tooth fairy delivery I told my son that the city where we live has such a large population that sometimes the tooth fairy couldn’t cover the volume of kids, and we had to give her a break. And, yes, his payment reflected the amount of guilt I felt!!

  70. Jill says...

    I love that you are a real normal imperfect parent!!!! I actually have never forgotten, but I did lie to my now 13 1/2 yr old daughter a few times. I was a very skeptical child who never believed in the tooth fairy, Easter bunny etc. I was so happy that my daughter believed in this childhood magic. Once when she was about 8 she was becoming skeptical about the tooth fairy and I really wanted her to believe bc I never did. So I took one of her Tinkerbell friends dolls and posed it with her pillow putting a dollar bill under it, and took photos to prove to her, so she would believe a few more years. I showed her the photo and She said “wow the tooth fairy looks like one of my dolls”. I think she knew the truth but wanted to believe.

  71. Kelsey says...

    My husband, ahem, the Tooth Fairy has a tradition of leaving a drawing or sketch of herself with the gold dollar and note. He was traveling, and the available tooth fairy thought she was quite clever to instead leave a scavenger hunt of 3 simple clues to the gold dollar, only to be awoken at 5:30 am by a distraught 7-year old who had nothing but a note under her pillow. “Oh, but a clue is so fun! Go back to sleep a couple of hours and we will have so much fun!” Sheesh….

  72. Robin says...

    My daughter lost her 2nd tooth the day after Christmas! We were staying with my parents and I was groggy from staying up the night before wrapping presents, so I remembered to give her something (gold $1 coin), but I forgot to take the tooth (though I moved it to place the coin)!! She was so upset! I said the tooth fairy must have dropped it during all the bustle of the holidays… we wrote her a note and left the tooth again the following night and the tooth fairy remembered to take it! (And left her own tiny apology note along with a new book for our troubles ;))

  73. Sarah says...

    The tooth fairy was my best friend. My Dad played the role because upon loosing one of my first teeth he asked “What do you think the tooth fairy looks like?” I replied with a description of a beautiful fairy. He responded, “Oh no, you see the tooth fairy is actually a man in a Tu-Tu named Floyd and he smokes cigars.” He intended this to be a joke – but says my eyes where so big and full of belief, he just couldn’t go back on what he said. This lead to many (many) letters back and forth with the tooth fairy. I even left letters when my siblings lost teeth! Including letters asking him to stop smoking because I was worried about his lungs. (He did stop smoking.) Looking back, my Dad and I were bonding – even if I didn’t realize it in the moment. The magic of Floyd still makes me smile today and I can’t wait to share him with my future children.

  74. Michelle says...

    Groan. Oh yes. Twice. With the same kid ( 1 of 3).

    The first time: I was alerted that the tooth fairy didn’t come by a tiny voice squeaking out of a sad, sad face. I feel asleep waiting for him to fall asleep. But since I already had the cash in my pocket, I quickly made a huge mess of the bed ‘looking’ for the money and then dropped it on the floor. Disaster averted. He was overjoyed because it looked like it fell from the blankets.

    The second time: I fell asleep AGAIN. I get pooped easy ok? This time (he was older), he said that the tooth fairy didn’t come and that HE did something wrong. So sad. He was worried she was mad at him. His sister (who knows who the real tooth fairy is) clued into his panic and quickly started with-“oh its bc you slept with the nightlight on and she likes the dark” and ” also, its because you put the tooth in the plastic tooth holder from the dentist and its too heavy for her to carry. Try again tomorrow”. He felt better right away and ‘fixed’ everything right away. Next night: I DID NOT FORGET ! (even though I was tired)
    BONUS: he broke the nightlight habit!

  75. Heather says...

    Oh, this reminded me of the sweet story from when Alex forgot to put money under Toby’s pillow: “Daddy went to look and HE found it!!!!” I always thought that was a genius move, and one I’ll probably need to use with my own kids once they start losing teeth. Thank goodness for children’s sweet credulity.

  76. Naomi says...

    We were on a trip when our 6-year-old lost her tooth in London and we were flying to Berlin that day. So we texted the tooth fairy and explained the situation and the tooth fairy not only came but wrote her a note in German and left Euros. It was the perfect solution and works so well in today’s modern age! My husband used google translate to translate her note (the same that he had used to write it :) and she was just amazed! Our other little girl lost her tooth on an airplane! The tooth fairy had to come to her in AFRICA (a few days late because we missed a flight) and the tooth fairy explained she had been busy with all the little lion cubs that had lost teeth! Our children still have no idea and our eldest recently told her grandmother how badly she wanted to meet the tooth fairy! It’s been so fun to hear them tell their teachers, grandparents, etc. My husband and I both take turns and it has been one of our favorite family traditions!

  77. CB says...

    When I forgot I used to tell me kids to imagine how busy the tooth fairy is with all the children in the world. And then say ‘don’t worry she will come tomorrow night.’ She usually did, although there were a couple of times she was having a super busy run … 😱

  78. Our tooth fairy has paid a fair share of “late fees”. ;)

  79. Ruth says...

    I once got a note from the tooth fairy (a day late) explaining that she’d had to spend some extra time with a child who’d had an emergency. Looking back, I really appreciate that the excuse was that she was taking care of someone else. Magic is so special, and so fleeting. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that others need it as well–even if they’re fictional. :)
    p.s. This classic is so fun for anyone who’s anticipating losing a tooth: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/306401/one-morning-in-maine-by-robert-mccloskey/

  80. Julie says...

    One morning our 7 yo stated parents had to be the little mouse (French for TF). He hid loosing his tooth from us and did not get his usual golden dollar. My husband suggested to put the tooth under his pillow on the next night. The next morning the kid was confused because the little mouse came. Who is that little mouse he asked?
    The plot thickens….

  81. Kelsey says...

    Same! Our fourth child is 8 and treasures all tooth fairy and leprechaun related things—he saves the money in a velvet box and refuses to spend it. Last week I accidentally forgot about his tooth for 4 nights in a row! I said “Go ask your sister what the record late time was from her tooth fairy.” It was relieving to us both to hear her happily respond “Ten days! But she brought me $10!” Now he loves the suspense of which night the tooth might be snatched and exchanged.

  82. Liz says...

    When my daughter lost her first tooth she walked into our room the morning of and ASKED if she could look under her pillow to see what the tooth fairy came. Of course i had totally forgotten and said that the tooth fairy actually forgot. When my husband woke up we told him the bad news. My husband pulled me aside and said that he had placed the money under her pillow last night (he works the night shift and had double checked under her pillow when he came home). So then of course, I run in there and swipe the money so that she didn’t see it. Why? I’m not sure. Let’s say that it was the most ridiculous mishap ever and my daughter ended up getting $2 and a sparkly note from the tooth fairy the next night.

  83. Aubrianne Anderson says...

    My mom forgot and told me the tooth fairy only comes on Thursdays, like the garbage collector. We were never very serious about it anyway, and it eventually devolved into my sister and I winkingly saying, “how about you give me some money now Mom, and have the “tooth fairy” pay you back.”

    • Laura C. says...

      Ahahahah I love this

  84. Rue says...

    I found out about the tooth fairy when I lost my first tooth. There wasn’t anything under my pillow, so I started to head down the stairs for breakfast. I was so little that I don’t think I really made any noise walking around the house. While I was still near the top of the stairs, I heard my parents chatting in the kitchen, and then heard my dad say to my mom, “sh*t! I forgot to put the dollar under the pillow!!”

  85. Kathy says...

    I once told my son that the reason the tooth fairy didn’t come was beause I had left the ceiling fan on and it was too dangerous for her to fly around. The next night we were very careful to turn it off and create a safe environment for deliveries.

    • Joanna says...

      You are amazing!

    • Brooke says...

      So cute!!

    • Bonnie says...

      THAT is great, Kathy. I’ve never heard that and it’s genius! “My” tooth fairy only needed a couple of the first teeth … after the first four little ones were out, she was onto those other teeth from other kids. It made sense. :)

  86. Lindsey says...

    My sister was THE WORST at being the tooth fairy. I finally sat down with my nephews and wrote an demand letter, citing emotional damage and asking for the back money plus interest. It worked.

  87. Erin says...

    My parents made up backstories for the tooth fairy. There were actually two of them, named Rufus and Gladys. They were married and took turns leaving money under our pillows. We would always ask which one had come to visit, and eventually figured out that Rufus (played by my dad) always left more money.

  88. Kate says...

    I once lost a tooth and didn’t tell my parents. The next day, when the tooth fairy hadn’t come, I left an angry not under my pillow and told my dad about what a jerk the tooth fairy was. The next night I had a quarter under my pillow along with a note from the tooth fairy admonishing me for my strongly worded letter!

  89. Kristen says...

    I have about a 1 out of 2 record on this. I forget…a lot. The tooth fairy has even had to steal from children’s piggie banks! I always pay them back. 😂

    We have put money in the mailbox, randomly on the floor in their room or in another room too right after realizing our gaffe!

  90. I am smiling to myself remembering a funny incident with the tooth fairy (aka my dad) when I was 7. I woke up to a $20 bill, the biggest amount I had ever received (usually it was $1). When I excitedly ran to my parents to show them the $$, I’ll never forget my dad saying very dead-pan, “The tooth fairy wants her change!” 🤣

  91. Meagan says...

    My parents forgot a lot, LOL! So then they’d feel bad and just give us a $5 😂 It’s a tough life for the tooth fairy!

  92. Angela Barraza says...

    My daughter and the tooth fairy become pen pals for a bit after my daughter left her a note asking if they could be best friends:)

    But before and after that, she was VERY forgetful!

    • Karen says...

      pen pals! oh my heart!

  93. Sarah D says...

    I remember my mom waking me up for school the morning after i had lost my first tooth (in the second grade mind you! I was a late bloomer) and i excitedly looked under the pillow only to find nothing. I had heard all me friends talk about the tooth fairy and I was so disappointed! I went to brush my teeth and my hair and when i came back to my room my mom said “are you SURE you checked well?” I checked again and found a $20 bill. I think I could have died of happiness lol (my mom remembers this even years later and said that she couldn’t find any change or smaller bills so a $20 it was).

  94. Steph says...

    This JUST happened to me and my daughter. As I was scrambling to formulate an explanation, my older daughter chimed in that if the tooth is lost or reported lost after 5PM, the tooth fairy visits the following night. Case closed! This info was courtesy of a classmate, so hats off to some creative parent!

  95. Eddie says...

    I was 14 when my youngest brother was born and my folks were way over the tooth fairy thing by then so I stepped up. After I left home he lost a tooth and my mum did exactly the same as you…forget, felt awful and assured him that the tooth fairy would come that night instead.
    Now, he was never a kid to deal well with unexpected or spontaneous changes, like EVER, so he didn’t want to leave the tooth out unless out mum could guarantee the tooth fairy would come:

    “But do you KNOW she will?”
    “Yes darling, I know. ”

    “…ok…but…HOW do you know?”

    The truth was revealed and he was fine with it, until a few hours later when he returned and asked about Father Christmas! Double whammy, poor kid.

    His response to the news that Santa was also a fabrication was the sweetest; for about three weeks he’d regularly stop what he was doing, ask about a past Christmas present and, once he’d confirmed the actual giver would thank them genuinely and profusely for whatever it was he’d been so thrilled to receive.

  96. Nikki C. says...

    I love hearing that this is a common parent mishap. Yes, my husband and I forgot to exchange my oldest son’s tooth for a dollar, too. And we pretended that the tooth fairy misplaced the dollar — “Look here! She placed it IN the pillowcase! So silly!” Our son is 14 y/o now and we always retell this story and have a great laugh.

  97. Eileen says...

    I am the youngest of six, and I was late to lose my teeth. My mother was so over it that she put a note from the tooth fairy under my pillow, along with a dollar bill and a handful of change. It doesn’t sound like much, but this was the seventies, and that was a lot more than the quarter I was used to getting.

    The note read, “I am retiring. Love, the Tooth Fairy.”