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Fairy's last ride

Our tooth fairy was not a good tooth fairy. We could tell by the notes she left us that she was quite the adventurous spirit, always hopping around the globe and landing in obscure places that would later be described with fairy-like details. Sure, she was a bit irresponsible… but we’d just look under the pillow, shake our heads upon finding the tooth still tucked in its little box, and chuckle. I wonder where she is this time? Sometimes weeks would go by and we’d forget to expect her, and then lo and behold, she’d ride in with the Easter bunny or sometimes the Elf. We thought maybe this offered her some protection from the dogs, or maybe it was simply a matter of convenience, Uber-like. I think she loved the Elf best. She seemed partial to colder climates; I often imagined her bundled up in parkas and Etsy scarves.

She would bring some amount of money with her. We never really understood the math, but it was always provided in silver dollars. Personally, I wondered why she decided to stick with very heavy money that makes a lot of noise when clinking it onto a wee one’s pillow, but it was the one thing she seemed to be consistent about. My first-born daughter observed that they were Sacagawea dollars, or maybe Susan B. Anthony dollars, so I suppose the tooth fairy might have been going for the girl power thing. And while not all the time, our tooth fairy usually left a note. A brief, colorfully written note, in very small fairy scratch, torn around the edges as if she had scavenged for a paper remnant. Always signed, “Keep brushing! TTF”. Again, we’d shake our heads and send up a little thank you. The note was often cast aside by its recipient, but I’d snag one occasionally for the baby book I never kept.

To be honest, I think she was better in her early years. My recollection was that she first took her job description very seriously. Dutifully depositing payment in exchange for the building block of her next fairy palace, as she told us. We could sense from the exuberance in her notes that she might have been held accountable by some macabre performance review process and really didn’t want to come up short. I felt sad for her sometimes, knowing that it must have taken great effort for her to be on call, such as it were. I was heartened, in fact, when she started to live a little. Take a few days off. Take months off. With so many dependable things in our kids’ lives, I was just fine with our slacker fairy.

Last night our fairy came for the last time. Oddly enough, she was right on schedule. And much to her delight, I’d imagine, she rode in with the Elf. Ah, the two of them! Such buddies they’d become. Her parting note wasn’t over the top as we might have expected from our flamboyant fairy. A simple signing off. A simple letting go. Wisely acknowledging that many such partings had come before and many remain ahead.

And now our tooth fairy is retired, I suppose. I assume she’ll get a new assignment, maybe one that doesn’t involve midnight creepery. Strange that her departure will go unnoticed by our family, except that I will miss her terribly. My heart thanks her for the lessons in the imperfect and for her disappointing and unexpected delights. So I take a moment, look up and give thanks for our fairy’s work, and hold fast to our sparkling Elf.

1 Comment

How poignant it is that so many of parenting's milestones consist of giving up mutually shared myths or traditions or family lore to make room for growth. But we get to keep the memories.

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