Dear Tooth Fairy

I still do not have my money. The first time my tooth came out you took my tooth but I did not get money. This time, my tooth came out you did not get my tooth. Please write back if you can.

From Lima

In this recent letter, Lima, my eight-year-old daughter, took the Tooth Fairy to task after her second dental disappointment in as many months. And it was all her parents’ fault. She had dutifully put her first exiled tooth under her pillow and gone to sleep. My wife and I had passed out, exhausted, realising only the next morning that neither of us had any cash on us.

We resolved to make an excuse for the Tooth Fairy and reprise the tooth/money exercise the following day. We hadn’t counted on the tooth disappearing (it’s still missing — we turned her room upside down, to no avail, after she had left for school). My baby was outraged: the Tooth Fairy had taken her tooth and left no money. She was the victim of a particularly cruel form of expropriation without compensation. She and one of her two brothers, only three years older than her, are hyperaware of “scams” and, as such, everything is a scam.

Only half the crisps in a packet double the size? Scam. You pay for electricity but spend a week without it because a breaker tripped 10km away? Scam. The car goes in for a service and must go back in the following week because of a phantom mechanical fault? Scam. The latest scammer was out there on a mass tooth-looting spree. Mercifully, we quickly forgot about the outstanding cash and thanks to school, Netflix, netball, drummies, tennis, gymnastics, and the latest season of Sugar Rush, our girl did too.

Image: Supplied

Alas, a month later, we were on tooth number two but had learned nothing from the first episode. Once again, we had forgotten to replace the tooth with money. This time, the dodgy fairy had just not bothered to turn up and poor Lima woke up with the darn thing still under her pillow. The girl was not having it. She wrote the letter in question and, when she woke the following morning, had all her money, with interest — such was the intensity of our collective parental guilt.

Our daughter’s belief in the Tooth Fairy, although deeply tested by these two episodes, remains intact, in spite of some of her friends suggesting she may not exist and that this money’s origins are much closer to home. This is not true, Lima says, because a day before she eventually received her earnings, she had checked her mother’s purse and my “wallet” (in truth, a card holder, with no space for cash) and not seen the note that she had received. Sneaky. But being infinitely more experienced, I, of course, had had it in my money clip in my pocket the whole time.

In reaching out and opening the lines of dialogue in this curt and heart-stoppingly cute note, she had secured her money and in the process reminded me of the value of being frank, factual, and kind.

1. Frank: “I still do not have my money…” Here there is no ambiguity, no beating around the bush, straight to the crux of the gripe.

2. Factual: “The first time my tooth came out you took my tooth but I did not get money. This time, my tooth came out you did not get my tooth.”

3. Kind: “Please write back if you can.” Add to that all the hearts and there is no scenario in which the reader cannot tell that this gripe comes with the utmost love. It’s a beautiful thing when a daughter can teach valuable lessons about and extend some grace, even though her father, I mean, the Tooth Fairy, may not deserve it.

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