By Jerry Zezima
For grownups, making money can be like pulling teeth. Kids have it so much better because they don’t have to pay to have a tooth extracted. They can just wait for it to fall out. Then they can go to sleep and count on the Tooth Fairy to leave them money, which not only saves them the trouble of going to work and actually earning it, but eliminates service fees because the moola can go straight into their piggy banks.
This was the valuable dental and financial lesson learned recently by my granddaughter Chloe, who is 5 and a half and, thanks to the Tooth Fairy, has more shiny coins than I do because, unfortunately, I don’t have a piggy bank.
Chloe lost her first tooth, the lower right central incisor, which wiggled and wobbled for a couple of weeks before succumbing to gravity and some gentle prodding by her mommy, my younger daughter, Lauren, who had prepared for the big event by looking up modern Tooth Fairy protocol.
But first, there was an announcement.
“Poppie!” Chloe chirped over the phone. “I have a loose tooth!”
“That’s wonderful, Honey!” I exclaimed. “And when it falls out, you’ll get a visit from the Tooth Fairy!”
“That’s right, Poppie!” Chloe replied excitedly. “And she’ll leave me money!”
“That’s right, Chloe!” I said, continuing a conversation punctuated by exclamation points.
“I can’t wait!” said Chloe, who nonetheless did not get an immediate windfall because the tooth stubbornly hung on.
It didn’t fall out during a visit to the dentist. According to Lauren, Chloe announced in the office that she wouldn’t be getting her adult teeth until she’s 44.
“She also said she wasn’t going to chew bubble gum until she’s 16,” Lauren reported.
The next chance for the tooth to fall out was that weekend, when Chloe spent a night with me and my wife, Sue.
“Maybe the Tooth Fairy will visit you tonight,” I told Chloe.
“I hope so, Poppie,” said Chloe, who opened wide to show Sue and me her delicate denticle. “Then she could visit me at my house, too.”
I could see that Chloe, who is good with numbers, was already counting on doubling her money.
To facilitate a payday, I took her to Dunkin’ Donuts, where she bit into a strawberry frosted doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. Unfortunately, it was too soft to knock out the tooth. So was a pizza dinner and the next morning’s sausage-and-egg breakfast.
When I brought her home that afternoon, she watched a “Muppet Babies” episode devoted to the Tooth Fairy.
The video inspiration worked like a charm because that evening, Chloe’s tooth finally fell out. The next day, she called to report the good news.
“I thought it was going to hurt, but it wasn’t so bad,” she told me.
“Did the Tooth Fairy come?” I asked.
“Yes!” Chloe replied. “She left me eight shiny coins under my pillow.”
Those coins, Lauren said when she got on the phone, were quarters, so Chloe got to deposit $2 in her piggy bank.
“She also got a certificate from the Tooth Fairy,” said Lauren, who went online to print it out.
“The Tooth Fairy has a website?” I asked.
“Dad,” Lauren said, “you can find anything on the internet.” She added that Chloe was impressed. “She said, ‘Ooh, a certificate!’ It had her name on it, so it was official.”
My orthodontist was impressed, too.
“Did your granddaughter get 50 cents?” Dr. Ammar Alsamawi asked during my visit to the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine on Long Island, New York, where, he said, the Tooth Fairy has an office.
“Even better,” I told him. “She got two bucks.”
“I guess the Tooth Fairy has to keep up with inflation,” Dr. Alsamawi said. “I wish I’d lose my teeth so I could make money.”
“First,” I said, “you have to buy a piggy bank.”
Chloe’s is about to get fuller because when Sue and I saw her a few days later, she opened wide to show us the gap in her teeth. Then she pointed to the adjacent tooth and said, “It’s getting wobbly. The Tooth Fairy is going to come back.”
“Until Chloe loses the rest of her baby teeth,” I told Lauren, “you’ll have to keep putting your money where her mouth is.”
Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima