Here’s the thing about the Tooth Fairy

This morning one of my students lost her tooth right in class! It was an exciting way to start the day. It was also kind of a terrifying way to start the day because I didn’t immediately realize she had lost her tooth when she got my attention and showed me a bloody gum-hole. I quickly remembered, however, that I was standing in a classroom full of first-graders who are constantly showing off their wiggly, loose teeth. I got her two plastic cups – one to put the tooth in and one to put water in (you know, to rinse that bloody gum-hole). I put the cup with the tooth in it on my desk so she could take it home later. Which prompted one student to question, “Is the tooth fairy going to go to her house tonight?” “I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe!”

ToothFairy-337x256
Real or not real?

At which point another pip-squeak piped up and said, “The tooth fairy does not exist!!” He shook his
adorable little head and repeated himself. “The tooth fairy does not exist!” Not wanting to get into a big debate that may or may not have ended in tears and told-ya-so’s, I said, “Maybe the tooth fairy just doesn’t come to your house because you don’t believe in her. Anyway, the alphabet…” It mostly worked and we moved on. But it got me to thinking. You know, about the tooth fairy and well, lies.

When I was five or six or something my friend (who shall remain nameless although we grew up next door to each other and her name rhymes with Schmarolyn) told me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I refused to believe it. It wasn’t that I questioned how the toys got under the tree or who made them or any of the practicalities of the situation. No, none of that. I refused to believe that Santa Claus didn’t exist because my parents would never lie to me and if Santa Claus isn’t real, that means they’ve been lying to me for my whole life about who puts my presents under the Christmas tree and about the whole existence of a person. (By the way, our grocery store already has all of the Christmas crap out. Tis the season here in this country without Halloween (it’s of Satan) and Thanksgiving (it’s an American holiday).)

Even as a little wiggly-toothed fix or six year old I understood the weight of dishonesty. “My parents don’t lie to me!” I remember telling that friend Schmarolyn. My parents don’t lie to me and therefore Santa is real. Which is tricky because technically telling someone, even a five-year-old someone, that a person named Santa flies around the world delivering presents to children is a lie. And technically lying is against the rules. The rules. The ten commanded rules sent down from the Lord above.

So here’s the thing about the Tooth Fairy. Is telling children that a fairy comes into their room at night to swap their teeth for money or telling children that a jolly ol’ guy shoves his jolly ol’ self down the chimney on Christmas Eve to leave them presents or telling children that the elf on the shelf is a spy from the North Pole (but seriously, I hate the elf on the shelf – for some reason it really gets me going) a lie? I mean, are those lies? Is “doing Santa” a sin?

No really, I’m asking. What’s your thing about the Tooth Fairy? Yea or nay?

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3 Replies to “Here’s the thing about the Tooth Fairy”

  1. We never did Santa at my house. Of course, that meant I was the friendless-second-grader who told other kids he didn’t exist. (Ah! What I wouldn’t give to tell little Alise to keep her mouth shut). We did, however, do the Tooth Fairy. I don’t really know how it ended up that way. I think by the time we were old enough to loose teeth, my parents knew we had a good handle on reality vs. imagination, so they went with it. My sister and I never actually believed in the Tooth Fairy (see: Santa experience), but my parents played the game to perfection. We even went so far as to set traps (teeth wrapped in aluminum foil and paper bags to make noise and wake us up) for the “Tooth Fairy” in an attempt to catch my parents in the act. They gave up when I taped my last tooth to the inside of my wrist and slept with my arm under my pillow.

    All that to say, on a more serious note, I don’t think we’ll do Santa for our potential future kids either. I always felt like the line is so close between teaching your kids about biblical stories and Santa. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not morally opposed to doing Santa or the Tooth Fairy or any of that. Rather, I just think, in a world that’s already rife with opportunities for kids to walk away from their parents’ faith, why give them one more catalyst to question? What is differentiating the story of Jesus from the story of Santa when you’re five or six? If your parents lied about one, why not the other? I recognize this is a stretch. Obviously, I realize I’ve never heard of anyone saying “I don’t believe in God because my parents lied about Santa.” I’m not a parent, so I don’t claim to know what I’m talking about either. I just know that I had a perfectly happy childhood without believing in Santa. We still loved the magic of Christmas and still had a lot of fun. Plus, it kept the focus (mostly) on Jesus and not Santa/presents. And, my parents never had to deal with any sort of questioning about whether or not they were lying to their kids.

    1. That’s what I’m thinking – not “doing Santa” doesn’t take away from the magic and wonder of Christmas. All of the awesome Christmas traditions we had growing up were about dancing and baking and playing games together. That’s the important stuff. I do love me some Santa movies, though. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Alise!

  2. Well, in my house we were brutally realistic. My mom never did the santa play. she did the tooth fairy play, though. For a few years. Until I caught her putting the dollar under my pillow. And, yes, I looked at her as a complete liar.
    I disagree with all that stories/lies stuff. Why make a little child believe in something you know isn’t real? It doesn’t make any sense.
    I think that I would play the part of the insensitive man that tells the children that all those fictional characters are just that… fiction. A commercial technique. A lie.
    I actually don’t believe that doing the santa or tooth fairy or any other fictional character would count as a sin. Like a SIN. But maybe it does. But, you know, if we are going to worry about going to hell because of lies.. well, the devil is going to have a great christmas.

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