Intersections – The problem with the Tooth Fairy

Posted by May 28, 2014

By Nicki Salcedo, contributor 

I never believed in Santa Claus. His handwriting looked too much like my father’s. But I wasn’t the kid who spoiled Santa for other kids. I loved believing in things. Aliens, Santa Clause, the Falcon’s going back to the Super Bowl. I believe in magic, but I’m honest about it. It doesn’t help that I won’t pretend to be the Tooth Fairy.

My daughter lost a tooth last month, and it took my three days to remember to put money under her pillow. By money, I mean a single United States of America one dollar bill. One dollar. Not $5. Not $20. A dollar is great considering I got a quarter at her age, and I’m four times her age now. Simple math. One dollar.

The problem isn’t the money. My kids just accept the money gladly. They love the $1, because the alternative is me forgetting indefinitely. I’m the worst Tooth Fairy ever.

Last month, my daughter came to me disappointed because the Tooth Fairy forgot to visit her. I reminded my daughter that our Tooth Fairy never visits on the first night. We have a Second Night Tooth Fairy. This didn’t seem to bother her. The next morning when there was still no visit from the Tooth Fairy, she began to worry.

I did something terrible. This is what I said.

“Honey, it takes a village to be the Tooth Fairy. Do you know how many are in the village today? One. Your mother is a village of one. She forgot to put the money under the pillow,” I said. Had my husband remembered, he would have pulled out a $5, because he is The Good Tooth Fairy. He remembers. Usually. He pays well. He is cheerful. But he had forgotten too. I looked at my eight year old and said, “There is no Tooth Fairy. And if you want a dollar it might help if you left the Tooth Fairy a note so she’d remember.”

It gets worse. So much worse. My daughter pulls out a letter from behind her back. “I did write a note.”


There in her note was a lot of belief and faith and hope in magic. All I could say is, “Check tomorrow morning.” I’m a bad and horrible mom. The next morning my daughter found this note and $1. Guilt does not change the payout.


And here is where the story gets stranger. She gets the note and comes running to me the next morning with her face full of joy. I told my daughter there was no Tooth Fairy. I told her the incompetent human playing the part of the tooth fairy was me, the surly mother.

But all my daughter shouted was, “She remembered!”

For some reason she forgot my honesty and lateness and surly attitude. She didn’t need $5 or $20. She is looking for magic. And that’s the worst problem about believing in anything or anyone. It’s when you look for magic and actually find it.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. 


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  • Nicki, I connected with your message completely. I remember when I had to tell my little girl about how the toothfairy worked. She got all upset with me. She didn’t want the toothfairy taking her tooth. She was very proud of how brave she was when it came out. So we wrote that note together – please don’t take the tooth. Anyway, she is 9 and still believes but I full heartedly agree it is the magic we each crave in life. Hence why we stop and look up when a rainbow appears. It is the wonder of it all.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      I look up when a rainbow appears. Sometimes I have to remember to chase it. Thanks for stopping by, Gina.

  • Bridget C

    I’m so pathetic that I actually have tears in my eyes about this. Grrr. I need to woman up a bit. Thank you for this cute story.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Crying is not pathetic. It is cathartic. I firmly believe in crying these days. For me and my kids. Thanks for reading, Bridget!

  • Tooth Fairy Forever

    This story made me feel so much better about all the times the tooth fairy forgot to come to our house for a night or two. Nonetheless, we were either too successful in our magic or our children were too gullible because we had to sit down and tell both about the Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny before they entered middle school. The second actually replied that I was wrong and there was too a Santa. Geesh, Mom

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Maybe we are wrong. 🙂

  • Frankly

    My kids are way past all this but my story always was: of course there is a Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, because honestly, I loved being the magic. When they finally outed me I told them that being the magic was one of the best parts of being a parent and I would not have traded it for anything; and as long as I was around, so were those magical characters. BTW, twenty-somethings will still eat a chocolate bunny!

    • Nicki Salcedo

      “I loved being the magic.” <—This! It can't always be about the kids.

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