What to do when the Tooth Fairy ‘forgets’: a clarification

DSCF0011-11 (rev 0)There are times in every child’s life when at first glance, it seems as if the Tooth Fairy ‘forgot to come’.  Let me just clear that up right now: the Tooth Fairy does not forget. Like, ever.

However, almost every child has experienced the huge disappointment of discovering that a tooth was not picked up, at least not the first night (and occasionally the second night) it was placed. Imagine the crushing feeling a child has when they flip over their pillow to find…nothing. Or worse, their tooth. There may be crying on the child’s part, bumbling explanations on the parent’s part. And let’s be honest—it’s heartbreaking for everyone involved. What happened? Why didn’t the Tooth Fairy come?

I am here to clarify some of the details of how the Tooth Fairy operates so that you can impart this knowledge to your children as the need arises.

There are several reasons why a tooth may not get picked up immediately. These include:

  1. A tooth that is wiggled out after 8pm. Unless the tooth fairy is already in your neighborhood, teeth wiggled out late at night may have to wait until the next night’s schedule to get picked up. This is why we have enforced a strict ‘no wiggling after 8pm’ rule at our house–to avoid this disappointment.
  2. If it is windy. The Tooth Fairy has a difficult time flying in high winds. Of course, you may not know there were winds during the night until the next morning. If there is no other explanation for a missed tooth pick-up, this is usually why.
  3. If it is rainy or snowy. See #2.
  4. If the tooth isn’t some place she can easily reach it or find it. Sometimes a tooth gets moved out from under the pillow, gets buried in stuffed animals or gets tangled in bedding. Remember, the Tooth Fairy is tiny and she may not be able to move things around to get to a miss-placed tooth.

Tips for parents—how you can help!

  1. To ensure a Tooth Fairy-compatible pickup, set an alarm as a reminder to check on the tooth before your own bedtime. That way, you can ascertain that a tooth has been properly placed by your child and that it has not become trapped or accidentally pushed off the bed where the Tooth Fairy cannot reach it.
  2. Some families have adopted the habit of putting a lost tooth on the kitchen counter where it is easily visualized and reachable by the Tooth Fairy. She takes the tooth and leaves the loot on the counter. Concerned children can leave a note under their pillow to alert her to where the tooth is. Notes, for some reason, don’t seem to get lost as easily as teeth.
  3. Did you know that there are, in fact, multiple Tooth Fairies? They tend to stick with a family over several generations which is why your child may receive similar loot to what you received but why it may be different then what the neighbor kid gets.
  4. If your child loses a tooth when they are not home, please make sure they know that there is no guarantee that your Tooth Fairy will be able to get to you. It just depends. There are no-fly zones and special laws that vary between states and countries that sometimes make it impossible. Just have your child keep their tooth stored safely with their toothbrush until they can set it out once they return home. Because they will likely be tired from their trip, it’s a good idea to set that alarm to double-check their tooth-placement accuracy.

The Tooth Fairy sometimes gets a bad rap when a disappointed child believes they have been forgotten. But I believe a better understanding of what the Tooth Fairy is up against and the constraints she must operate under will help alleviate the wailing and gnashing of teeth by children and their parents. There is some onus on parents and children to be sure that a tooth is compatible to being picked up and to have a reasonable expectation in regards to weather and other factors that might impact the Tooth Fairy’s ability to exchange a tooth. The Tooth Fairy does not forget. Ever. So if there is a problem, it’s on us.

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