The tooth fairy
“The tooth fairy forgot to come last night. Again.” Six-year-old Dicka frowned as she delivered the news to me in the kitchen one morning.
“Oh no. And she was late last time too.” I shot a look at Husband who made a beeline for the coffee pot. “But I’m not surprised. She’s pretty spacey.”
A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Sure, Mama.”
“I’ll call and remind her.” I stirred cream into my coffee. “She’s busy, though. You might have to leave her a note tonight.”
With her tablet and pen, Dicka nestled into a living room chair and drafted a letter. Looking over her shoulder, I skimmed the note. After a brusque salutation, Dicka had chided the tooth fairy for her oversight and then ended the stern letter with a list of questions.
“Good.” I patted her shoulder. “Now you’ll get your answers.”
Dicka flicked me a skeptical look. “I hope she writes back.”
The next morning, she clambered downstairs with a grin and a piece of paper she shoved into my hands. The tooth fairy had replied, responding to each of Dicka’s questions in flowery penmanship. The letters were so decorative even the serifs had serifs—and curls. Calligraphy on steroids.
Sorry for the delay. I just had a baby girl two days ago. Her name is Crystalina. She weighs 3 ounces.
“I’m gonna write her another letter.” Beaming, Dicka scampered off with her note pad.
“You better leave it out somewhere obvious, so she doesn’t forget again,” I called after her.
The next morning, Dicka zipped downstairs to the kitchen to show me the tooth fairy’s latest correspondence.
I glanced at the note while I fried eggs. “Nice.”
In the letter, the tooth fairy said her real name was Graciella and her husband’s name was Crispin. But the sparse information wasn’t enough for Dicka, so she hustled off to write yet another letter. After some days, though, the notes trickled off as other distractions swept away Dicka’s interest in her magical pen pal. Then another tooth loosened, and her fascination was reignited.
“What does the tooth fairy look like?” Dicka tugged at her newest loose tooth.
“She has frizzy blonde hair, big round glasses, wings, of course. And she always wears denim overalls for some reason.” I shrugged and then cupped my hand to my mouth in a stage whisper. “And truth be told, she’s a little crazy.”
“She’s a nut job,” Husband added from the other room.
Dicka twisted her tooth. “How does she get into the house?”
“She tells me when she’s coming, and I let her in.”
“Through a window?”
I tipped Dicka’s head back to peer into her mouth. “Sure. Because she’s small, you know.”
“Like this.” I held my hands a foot apart.
With a jerk, Dicka plucked her tooth free, her eyes bright with success. “I’m gonna go and write her a note now.” She dashed from the room.
But the next morning, we all discovered the awful truth: once again, the tooth fairy had forgotten.
“Shame on her.” I shook my head and planted my hands on my hips. “I guess you have to leave the note in a more visible place. She’s scatterbrained.”
Dicka tilted her head, sizing me up. “Mom, I know it’s you.”
“Me?” I splayed my hand on my chest.
“You’re the tooth fairy.” But uncertainty played at the edges of her words.
Ricka jumped into the conversation. “Remember when I lost a tooth in Mexico? El Raton brought me two pesos.”
“That’s ‘rat’ in Spanish.” Flicka snickered. “A rat brings you money.”
Dicka frowned. “Why couldn’t our tooth fairy bring the money to Mexico?”
“It wasn’t in her jurisdiction,” I said. “Kind of like when police officers have to cover just one part of a city. El Raton works down there. Ours works up here.”
“Oh.” Dicka nodded, bunching her lips to one side.
Early one morning, I bolted out of bed, shaken awake by the memory of the tooth eleven-year-old Dicka had planted under her pillow the night before. Within minutes, I would have to awaken her for school. By now, the tooth fairy’s forgetful reputation in our house was well-established. But even though her shoddy performance was expected, it was still inexcusable. I devised a plan, grabbed some change, and crept up the stairs to Dicka’s bedroom.
In one seamless move, I slid my hand under her pillow, deposited the coins, and doled out a wake-up hug. “Good morning, honey.”
Shrewd as ever, Dicka dug under her pillow and then flashed me a half-smile. “Ha! It’s you.”
“Okay, okay. I confess.” I sat on the edge of her bed and sighed. “The tooth fairy called me last night. She couldn’t make it in the rain, so I told her I’d deliver the money. You caught me doing her a favor.”
Dicka laughed and shook her head. “Oh, Mom.”
The tooth fairy doesn’t come often anymore. But when she does have business at our house, she knocks on the kitchen window, I open it, and she bumbles her way in, usually scuffing her wings on the refrigerator as she adjusts her glasses and gets her bearings.
And when she forgets or has other obligations, I’m happy to help. Because that’s what moms do.
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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.