Cotswold Mother: The dreaded Tooth Fairy

Maybe when my son becomes a dentist, he can pay me back for all these teeth

Maybe when my son becomes a dentist, he can pay me back for all these teeth - Credit: Archant

When Clare Mackintosh’s children aren’t talking about how much cash they will garner for their teeth, they’re discussing how to hasten the extraction

If ever I write a parenting manual (and I’m unlikely to) it will include practical tips on things that really matter. Like how to wrestle a toddler into a car seat when their legs are splayed out like a starfish, or how to extricate yourself from the bed of a sleeping child without disturbing them. And I would dedicate an entire chapter to the Tooth Fairy.

To a six year old there is little more exciting than the discovery of a wobbly tooth. From the second a hint of movement is detected, to the eventual extraction, the owner of said tooth thinks about little else. Every day is dedicated to the analysis, discussion and management of the wobbler.

Perhaps it’s just my own children, but the issue of cold hard cash plays a large part in conversations. “The tooth fairy brings a golden coin for every tooth!” I remember Josh saying, long before his own teeth were ready to depart. “Does she?” I said, horrified by the rate of inflation that had apparently occurred in Tooth Land since the 1980s. “A gold one? I thought she brought silver ones. Silver is much better.” His eyes lit up. “Silver coins – wow!” Currency agreed, we settled on fifty pence, although conceded that the first tooth would probably merit the full pound.

Imagine my horror when the children bounced home from school one day, before any wobblers of their own, to tell me that Rupert Accrington’s tooth had fallen out, and the tooth fairy had brought him five pounds. FIVE POUNDS? That’s a hundred pounds per mouth! I could barely speak, I was so apoplectic with rage. Raising the bar by giving children more than a pound per tooth is completely unacceptable: a breach of the Parental Code second only to buying bespoke jewellery as an end-of-term teacher gift, when the rest of us are wondering if we can get away with home-made fudge. It simply shouldn’t be done.

“Why does the Tooth Fairy give Rupert five pounds, and only brings us fifty pee?” Georgie asked. “I imagine Rupert’s Mummy and Daddy are rather well off,” I said through gritted teeth. Too late, I realised my mistake. “But,” began Josh, always far too quick off the mark, “why would it make any difference how much money they have? It doesn’t come from them.”

As the cogs began to whirr in his six-year-old head, I saw his childhood innocence disappearing. Next step: Father Christmas. I hastened to correct my error. “No, of course it doesn’t, darling, but tooth fairy money is… er… sort of means tested. In reverse. She brings more money to people who already have it, because they’re… er… used to it. And we’re not.” As arguments went, it was somewhat flawed. “Well, that seems like a rubbish way of giving out money. It should go to the people who need it, and miss out the rich people altogether.” (David Cameron, take note).

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When the children aren’t talking how much filthy lucre they will garner for their teeth, they’re discussing how to hasten the extraction. Like women exchanging diet tips at the gym, they swap anecdotes over their post-school snacks. “Well, Anna’s came out when she ate an apple. Can I have an apple, Mummy?” “If you twist it when you wobble it, the root breaks more easily.” On and on and on.

Soon after Christmas, Evie proudly showed me her first wobbly tooth, and I fully expected it to come out that evening. But on it clung, despite heroic efforts from its owner, and weeks later it was still hanging on by a thread, the replacement tooth already coming through behind it.

“You could just give it a yank,” I said, half repelled, half fascinated. She shook her head. “I can’t.” I didn’t blame her. “I’ll do it,” said Josh cheerfully, now eight, and an old hand at losing teeth. Evie opened her mouth wide and didn’t bat an eyelid as Josh reached in and gave a sharp tug. “It’s out!” she cried gleefully, unperturbed by the blood pouring from her mouth. “Now I’ll get money from the tooth fairy!” So excited by this prospect was she, I half expected her to ask Josh to tackle another few gnashers.

“Well done, Josh,” I said, rather proud of such gallantry. “I think I’ll be a dentist when I’m older,” he said. An excellent career choice, in my view. Perhaps then he can pay me back for all these teeth.


This article by Clare Mackintosh is from the March 2015 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Clare, follow her on Twitter: @claremackint0sh