Trying to Get My Kids to Believe in the Tooth Fairy Is Like Pulling Teeth

Mom Moment 15

My 6-year-old twin daughters never really believed in Santa and the Easter Bunny was out of the question. When they told me about a friend whose little brother had his beloved pacifiers taken by the "pacifier fairy," they could barely get the words out, they were laughing so hard at the sheer nonsense. You see, I've got two skeptics who love ... reality. So when the first tooth was lost, I thought, here's my chance to inject some good, old-fashioned wonder into their iPad-wielding, Katy-Perry-singing childhood.

They'd been getting mixed messages on the tooth fairy's existence from friends who reported receiving everything from American Girl dolls to $20 bills to zilch under their pillows. Everyone's fairy is different, I explained, and the creative logic flowed from there. We'd put the tooth in a baggie along with a note asking our tooth fairy if we could please keep the tooth and if she could also leave a little something for both sisters since they're twins. My girls stood in their nightgowns and nodded gamely. They seemed almost embarrassed by my enthusiasm. I, however, felt great.

In the morning, when the tooth-loser found the silver dollar I'd left, she was all in. She wanted to take it to school or put it in her special box or both. Her sister marveled over her coin for a few minutes until she thought about it and the interrogation began. But how'd she get into the apartment? I left a window open in the living room. Isn't the money in exchange for taking the tooth? We asked to keep ours!

Tooth number two got the same treatment. How did the tooth fairy know she was assigned to us? She got your names in the hospital when you were born. Will she run out of silver dollars? Maybe, I said, wondering how many I had left. I thought you said grandma was your tooth fairy? Did I? It got more complicated. Tooth number three came out on a weekend away -- no coins! -- and I said we'd do the under-the-pillow-thing with a note when we got home because our fairy probably didn't know where we were. I was slipping. I remembered a story Heidi Klum told where she went so far as to dress up in a silver tiara and take a blurry photo of herself running out of her daughter's room as evidence. I might need a visual. 

By the fourth tooth my little skeptic was pleased with her present -- the tooth fairy changed it up and went with crisp $2 bills -- but exceedingly frustrated. She sat me down on her stool, put on her serious face, and looked me in the eye. I think she even held my face with both hands. "Really," she said half laughing, half crying, "for real life ... is it you, mama? Is it you?" This was turning into a cruel lesson in hypocrisy and deception for no good reason and I had to wonder why I was so attached to keeping this thing going. I guess I felt -- and still feel -- like it's a personal failure of mine that I haven't been able to create or sustain that suspension-of-disbelief notion, the one that I can't even put into words, but sounds like the trill of a wand in a Disney movie. Isn't it nice to feel like there are magical beings who give you gifts and have the capacity to spread joy unconditionally? Also, my girls went from Elmo to Taylor Swift in what seemed like a minute. Isn't it okay to keep them as my babies a little longer?

I did not have a great answer for her and I still don't. Here's what I came up with: "When it's your turn, we'll write a letter and ask her to tell us the truth, ok?"

"Fine," she said trying to wiggle her firmly-in-place bottom teeth with her fingers. "I think they're loose. I'm getting an apple."

How long do you think kids should believe in the tooth fairy?

Image via Bit-O-Me/Flickr

behavior, kid health


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nonmember avatar Tara

My son's first tooth came out yesterday. A few days earlier he said "I don't think there's a tooth fairy. I think it's your parents." I quickly responded "I hope it's not me!?!" He was very happy this morning to get a silver dollar, but I don't know how long I've got. The clock of disbelieve is ticking.

Michi... MichiganMom602

Children are born with wide eyed wonder, to see things as magical, to believe anything is possible.  It is only adults who teach them that magic doesnt exist.  You can not drill into their heads that there is nothing magical in life and then try to pull off the tooth fairy!  How ridiculous.  Though your efforts were valiant.

bella... bellacazzate

I really, really liked this. It is a rarity to find a compelling post written by a writer with a clear voice on this site. I was actually a bit jolted out of the zone when I saw the familiar, bold-type Stir-mandated question at the end -- I thought I was somewhere else! Good on ya, love. Looking forward to more posts. Grazie mille! 

nonmember avatar Common.Sense

Here's a novel idea..... STOP LYING TO YOUR CHILDREN!! You know the old saying "Always tell the truth, and you'll never have to remember anything"? Holds true here! If you're honest, then you don't need to make up all this bullsh*t and try to keep it all straight in your head (plus, your kids will appreciate the fact that their parents are honest and non hypocritical).

Ilove... IloveNCIS

My son is almost 7 and does not believe in any of it. I'm not going to force him anyways.


TLC4t... TLC4theworld

My Children know that I am Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and any thing else that may come across them as unexplained in our house.  I find it fabulous that I have the best of both worlds!  I don't take away their ability to believe in magic, but they know it's not real and not a lie.  

momwk... momwkids109

My oldest daughter remembers little tiny footprints on her pillow and i ran with that for all my kids...I would tell them all when they lost a tooth look for the footprints on your pillow.. and it worked with all 4 -for a while..By the way my kids are adults and believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny and the toothfairy did not hurt them in any way... they doing the same for thier kids...Im glad my kids  had a magical childhood. Some of our best memories include these magical personas. 

New20... New2011Mom1991

I personally believe that you should keep the dream alive as much as possible, but now that your daughter is seeming to understand the fact that it could all be a lie is starting to show that it may be time to tell her the truth. It appears that she is growing and maturing at a quick level, but sometimes it's for the best. Plus, if you keep going on with this "lie" she may begin to think that other things in life were lies, and that she could lie constantly to you, for whatever reason. If I were you I would tell her the truth if it seems like she is getting frustrated with the fact that she pretty much knows it's a lie. If her sibling thinks it's the tuth of a fairy coming to see her, then I would tell her sister to not tell her just because it's a fun little thing to do. That's my opnion, so i don't except you to listen to it, but maybe take something from it to use in your situation.

Lobelle Lobelle

My kid is 6 1/2 and hasn't lost ANY teeth yet. I'm worried I won't get a chance to pay "tooth fairy".  I loved it when I was a kid, the anticipation, excitement...

James P. Bernard

Break it to them. They really do likely know, but are confused by the rewards. When you visit, I will explain about the power of Love and a parents desire to please - then I'll spoil them with treats!

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