*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
It should come as no surprise that a woman who refused to let her children believe in Santa Claus would also deny the existence of the tooth fairy.
My mother never wanted us to grow up with any illusions, and she believed that if we knew the truth about these characters, we would be less likely to get our hopes up.
She also refused to give Santa Claus or the tooth fairy credit where it wasn't due.
As a result, I never got a tooth fairy visit or any money for my lost teeth. My brother also experienced the same thing. No magical creature ever came to our house to reward us for losing our baby teeth.
Looking back, I appreciate my mother’s honesty. It’s probably why I never felt too disappointed when I lost a tooth. I knew there was no magical creature waiting to bring me a present. And, even though it was a bit of a bummer not to get a present, I knew I should still be happy that I had lost my tooth and that it meant my teeth were growing in nicely.
Losing a tooth can be traumatic to a child. Maybe that's why some parents try to soften the blow with quarters or dollar bills placed beneath the child's pillow. These monetary rewards that are exchanged for baby teeth purportedly come from the tooth fairy.
I don't know the exchange rate for baby teeth because my mother never gave me money for my teeth. However, she saved them in a tiny plastic treasure chest that she still keeps in her jewelry box to this day.
My mother never let me believe in the tooth fairy. She would have never put money under my pillow to reward me for losing a tooth. It went against everything she believed in, which certainly didn't include such novelties as Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy.
She would tell me that my baby teeth fall out for a reason, to make room for new teeth, and I should be happy I had healthy adult teeth growing in and not worry about losing my baby teeth.
But I did worry about losing my baby teeth. Every time I felt one of my teeth wiggle, I grew anxious and upset. Not another one, I'd think.
I didn't mind the thought of having a toothless grin, and I didn't mind the knowledge that all my schoolmates were getting paid for their baby teeth except me. What I did mind was the anticipation of that moment when the tooth finally breaks free from the surrounding gums.
Will it hurt? Will it bleed? Will I swallow my own tooth, or will I choke on it?
These were the questions that kept me awake at night, wiggling the offending tooth with one finger to test its adherence.
In the end, I lost all my baby teeth just like everyone else—except this one ex-boyfriend with two rows of teeth and a mouth like a shark. But that's a story for another day.
I never got a dime from the tooth fairy, but that was okay because my mother refused to let me believe in her, anyway.