All that Remains of the Tooth Fairy

One of the big milestones when you have little ones is the loss of that first tooth. It’s something nobody has any control over, yet parents seem to find a way to take credit for it and/or brag about it anyway.

“Little Bobby just lost his first tooth! He’s advanced you know; the dentist was predicting it would happen next spring.”

You know how those conversations go.

Toothless grins in Christmas card pictures and kids who suddenly develop the inability to speak without spitting are priceless trophies of parenthood.

When my son first started losing those tiny slivers of enamel my husband and I came up with the brilliant idea that we the Tooth Fairy would give a dollar coin for each tooth lost. This was back when Susan B. Anthony was on the coin and they were harder to find than a teenager willing to mow the lawn. We scrambled to find a few before he lost his next tooth.

When he woke up and found one under his pillow we had to explain that it was a dollar, not just the quarter that it so closely resembles. That took a bit of the excitement away, since we weren’t even sure he believed us when we told him it was real money.

We certainly didn’t want him thinking the Tooth Fairy had ripped him off, even though his friends were already getting $5 bills for theirs.

The whole scheme is a ripoff if you ask me. Did the kids all unionize when we weren’t looking?

The following year the U.S. Mint introduced the Sacagawea golden dollar coin, and the Tooth Fairy in our house went crazy. Golden dollars! They shine! They look like they’re made of gold! We must have them to place under the head of our adorable little boy in exchange for those nuggets of calcium!

We went from bank to bank collecting them, bank tellers giving us odd looks when we asked about them.

“How many do you have? Twenty? Are they shiny? I’ll take them all!”

I felt like a Beanie Baby collector in the early 90’s.

So eventually we had enough for both kids to lose all twenty of their baby teeth and be properly rewarded. We kept our stash secretly hidden for those nights we had to creep into one of their rooms and quietly steal the tooth from under the pillow.

It wasn’t always easy to get the tooth, either. They insisted on putting them under the pillow way under their heads. I got very clever at pushing down ever-so-slightly on the mattress under the pillow to create a divot, then grab the tooth and replace it with the dollar.

I still have all of those odd little teeth in my jewelry box. You probably didn’t need to know that, but I just can’t bring myself to throw them away.


A few years ago that my youngest finally lost her last baby tooth and our Tooth Fairy days were over. It wasn’t like they still believed in her anyway, but you have to admit it’s a good racket for the kid.

Fast forward a few years. Last week my daughter had finally saved up enough money to buy the iPod she’s been coveting for months. Months, people. And she’s been saving and saving for it.

So we bought it on the credit card and she brought me her stash of cash to reimburse me.

The stash included twenty golden Sacagawea coins. No longer so shiny.

So on Monday I went to the bank to deposit the cash, and those coins had finally come full circle. Back to the bank they went, tarnished and worn, possibly ready for a second life under another kid’s pillow. It felt like the end of an era, the closing of something that had once seemed so big and important to me.

So I did what any self-respecting mom would do. I kept one.

And stashed it with the little teeth.

Take that, Tooth Fairy.


  1. So sweet & touching. Parenting is all about the full circle isn't it? And for the record, I still have all the boys teeth. I'm not sure why, but I do.

  2. Did you really keep all of their teeth? I wonder how that works. Keep 'em or toss 'em?

  3. Our tooth fairy should have been fired years ago — that wench is so forgetful now that my son thinks our house is last on her route and doesn't deliver until after breakfast. [Okay, pretty sure he knows we're the flakes, but he's such a polite kid, he's humoring us.] I love the coin idea…that will be a special memory for them. I'm glad you kept one of the dollars.

  4. Bethany @ Organic Enchilada says:

    Awesome post!

    I just threw out three baby teeth from my dresser drawer today. So far that's about the only thing I've been able to get rid of while we pack for this move. Now I feel kinda guilty about it.

  5. Booyah's Momma says:

    My parents still have one of my baby teeth in the junk drawer. I always thought it was kind of gross. But now that I'm a mom, I totally understand.

    We haven't lost any teeth yet around here. But when that time comes, I'm pretty sure I'll have my own morbid little collection in the junk drawer.

  6. My oldest just lost her first tooth the day before Halloween … the same day we were finally moving in to our new home. The tooth fell out just minutes after the kids were in bed for the night.

    And, of course, we were unprepared. Neither of us had any doller bills … only 5's & 20's … and we were too tired to run out for something. Sooo … the $5.00 tooth payout was born.

    One thing I did was convince my daughter that the tooth had to be in a plastic ziploc under her pillow … that made it super simple to get it out.

    Also, I found a really cute tooth storage case from a catalog.

  7. this is helpful to me. i now know to not start some hard-to-keep-up standard with special coins.

    also? i already have a toothfairy pillow that hangs from a doorknob. soooo much easier than getting under their pillow at night!

  8. It never occurred to me to keep my son's teeth…maybe it grosses me out just a bit πŸ™‚ I love the tradition you started and how it's all come full circle πŸ™‚

  9. My dad still has all my teeth. While I find it creepy it's also somewhat endearing.

    And that tip about pushing down the mattress? I'm stealing it.

  10. Julie Hedlund says:

    This reminds me that my mom used to keep our teeth in her jewelry box too. I hope they're not still there!

    I never did start keeping my daughter's teeth, partly because she swallowed the first two. After that it just seemed a bit old hat.

    Beautiful post.

  11. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says:


    The tooth fairy in my household had to be a Chinese Stealth Acrobat because my son was the lightest sleeper in the history of children.

    It is possible that after an episode of needing to leap, gazelle-like, into his closet to hide after a squeak escaped my lips when I stepped on a five-star pointed lego piece, that come morning I just handed said child my ATM card and told him that tooth fairy had quit in desperation due to a debilitating episode of lumbago.

    But my memories of those days are fuzzy.

  12. You make me cry every single time.

    You know what I would have done with those coins, right?

    I don't even need to tell you, but I will.

    I would have kept them, along with all of those teeth, and the clippings from every single haircut. I plan to store them securely in the Box of Childhood, under every single piece of art they've created and each piece of homework brought home. Right beside those little trophies, certificates, little league uniforms, and leotards.

    By the time they are teens, I will be featured on Hoarders. I just know it.

  13. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:

    That is proof that life is just moving in big circles. Somewhere my parents still have my baby teeth. It's gross and sweet all mixed together!

  14. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli says:

    First- I'm so glad I read this bc there's a tooth needing a fairy tonight and I'd forgotten. So thanks.
    We have little fairies that hang on the door knobs, I didn't want to get into under pillow extraction.
    And I'm with Nichole, I would have saved the coins too.

  15. The tooth fairy in our house was an inconsistent bitch. Sometimes she would leave $1, sometimes $5, sometimes she would forget. Also, the tooth fairy tossed those teeth right into the trash. It didn't take my oldest daughter long to catch on. Thankfully, she is a good sport and helps me keep the dream alive longer for my little ones. When she loses a tooth now, she is kind enough to put her own dollar underneath her pillow so I don't have to mess with it.

  16. For the first tooth my eldest got $10. Because apparently that's all the Tooth Fairy had in her wallet and Mr. Tooth Fairy was out of town. Then there was the night the TF left the money outside the door in an envelope – because the baby sleeping in the room is a VERY light sleeper.

    Now #2 has a loose tooth.

    We might have to take a second mortgage out on the house by the time #3 starts losing his.

  17. You have a real knack for making a story so touching, Sherri. Love the full circle element. I bet seeing all those coins was so nostalgic for you.

  18. We give dollars…I guess we're cheapskates. Luckily my son doesn't seem to mind. I mean, this kid was losing a tooth a week for awhile! Now #2 is starting with the loose teeth. I love your memories. : )

  19. Are you KIDDING me? How you've managed to make me CRY with a story that includes hoarding baby teeth I'll never know.
    Man you're good.

  20. That is such a touching story. The whole full circle thing is beautiful.

    My baby is in the getting teeth phase, so it will be a while until the Tooth Fairy comes around, but hopefully by that time I'll remember reading this.

  21. Wow. This is so beautifully written.

  22. that is so sweet!! I cannot believe what some people actually give their kids when they loose their teeth, $20, um yeah right!

  23. Awww…I'm not sure what I will do when my kid's lose teeth. Probably givethem way too much :p

  24. The Empress says:

    Ha! See, husband, I'm not so crazy after all.

    Or, wait..if tweener keeps baby teeth, too, then…maybe I am crazy?

  25. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) says:

    I've been saving my son's teeth too. I never thought NOT to! I love how it all came full circle. We've just been doling out two dollars a tooth. I love the shiny coin idea.

    BTW…the tooth fairy forgot once! I can't believe it…totally rookie mistake πŸ™‚

  26. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    Sherri, you made me cry again.

    We also use dollar coins, most of the time. I never thought to plan ahead and buy them all at once from the bank. Duh. I've been buying 10 or so at a time.

  27. This is one of the funniest, most adorable little stories I’ve ever read. You are a true writer, through and through! I got the link to this post and to Old Tweener from Sluiter Nation’s ( Recruits List. So glad she does that, because you are definitely a find to share!!! I am adding you to my blog list, too, if you don’t mind! So nice to meet you and listen to a tale well told. πŸ™‚


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