The Tooth Fairy-Induced Heart Attack
Warning: Do not read this post with kids looking over your shoulder.
Good, now that the kids are gone, I’m going to say it.
Whoever came up with the idea of the Tooth Fairy deserves a good beating with a heavy bag of teeth and coins.
While I love the excitement for the kids, the job of the Tooth Fairy is not one of my parenting duties that I relish. Quite the opposite, actually. I HATE being the Tooth Fairy.
Although I’m prepared as I can be (I go to the bank for $10 in silver dollars when each kid gets their first loose tooth), I still dread the night the tooth fairy comes. I tuck them into bed at night and watch as they place their tooth under their pillow. While they fall asleep with an adorable look of wonder and anticipation on their faces, I go downstairs filled with dread for what’s to come.
It starts with the heart palpitations. I never know quite when to time it. Are they fully asleep yet? I’m hoping for real REM sleep, so they’ll be so entranced in their dreams, they won’t wake up. But if I wait too long, they might be between sleep cycles and could roll over to find me there, guiltily holding their tooth.
Once I’ve committed to a time, I grab my silver dollar coin and attempt to tiptoe up the stairs. (You never notice how old and creaky a staircase is until you want to sneak in your child’s room.) Then I enter the bedroom of the newly toothless and my anxiety attack ratchets up to a whole new, distressing level.
I’ve realized that, once I step foot in my kids’ rooms as the Tooth Fairy, I hold my breath. The squeak of the floorboards beneath my feet is louder than any breathing a normal person would do, but I worry that my nervousness makes my own breathing sound like a steam train whistle. While holding my breath is an involuntary response to the Tooth Fairy experience, once I realize I’m doing it, it makes me feel like the experience lasts that much longer, adding that extra level of stress to the event.
Then I reach under their pillow for the tooth and I’m pretty sure that my heart just stops beating for that moment. The tooth is always a mile farther in than you anticipate, even though the pillow is only a smooshed 20 inches long. I’m staring at my child’s sleeping face, fearing the worst. With heart stopped and breath held, my hand finally clamps around the tiny tooth.
In my most recent experience, my son swallowed his very first lost tooth, prompting me to come up with the moronic idea of writing a note to the Tooth Fairy to explain the missing tooth. I almost let out an audible gasp when my hand crinkles the paper of the note while reaching under his pillow. I swear inwardly and slide the note into my pocket, panicked that the sounds of the paper would give me away.
I slip the silver dollar under the pillow of my child (though never as far under as they hid their tooth), and turn to leave the room. Those twenty or so steps out of the room are the worst. As I retreat, I can’t afford to look behind me to make sure they’re still sleeping, for fear of tripping on something and waking them up. For all I know, they’ve caught me and I’ve squashed another childhood dream.
When I finally reach the top of the stairs, I suck in as much air as I can and my heart starts to beat again, albeit in an erratic, racing pattern, bringing up a dangerous level of nausea. I sit on the couch for a few beats to catch my breath, listening to see if my toothless child will come downstairs crying. I fear they’ll accuse me of lying to them, that they’ll never again trust a word of the sage parenting advice I have yet to give.
Inevitably, I calm down and realize that I got away with it again. That I’m safe, for now. I can rest in the knowledge that I’ve fulfilled another crackpot parenting duty that will make my kid’s day come sunrise. My anxiety morphs into anger toward the faceless nameless individual who came up with this idea.
I silently curse the creator of this Tooth Fairy myth and form a plan to hand off this Guardian duty to Daddy next time.