I started Letters from a Tooth Fairy when my daughter lost her first tooth. At that point, I didn't know that is what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted the tooth fairy to visit and I wanted her to write a really fun and involved letter.
Unfortunately, I didn't even have any ideas for tooth fairy letters like these, and I couldn't come up with much on the spot.
Thankfully, I have a creative father. I reached out to him and he came up with the idea of Bumblefee, a doughnut-loving tooth fairy who stores teeth in her refrigerator, and wrote a first draft of her multi-night letter adventure, "Bumblefee Spends the ToothLoot."
This tooth fairy letter had a lot of cute elements to it, plus it was interactive, so I knew my daughter would get a kick out of it.
I totally underestimated her reaction.
She was captivated. Enchanted. Puzzled. Amused. Even upset. (A naughty ex-tooth fairy showing up on the second night of this letter adventure and stealing the tooth money will do that to a child.)
The more she felt, the more this tooth fairy became real to her. Bumblefee’s problems became my daughter’s concerns. Her foe became my daughter’s target. Her eccentricities became my daughter’s amusement.
As I watched her respond to this tooth fairy—and others I introduced into the mix with each subsequent tooth loss—I started to see these tooth fairies become real. No, not real in the sense of something you can see, touch or smell. But real in the sense of no longer being abstract. They were real silly. Real forgetful. Real talkative. Real nervous. Real mean. Real playful. Real distractible. Real clumsy. Real sweet. Real funny.
These details brought these tooth fairies to life for her. As John Wooden has said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things made big things happen.” And these tooth fairies, with their letters, and their quirks, and their questions, and their games, and their problems, and their scrapes, and their scrambles - - all of this, every one of these little things, is what made losing a tooth a very big thing to happen in her life.
And that’s what I wanted for my daughter. I wanted it to be a big deal. I wanted to mark this rite of passage, these remarkable moments in her life, with something more than just a quick note and a few dollars. I wanted the tooth fairies to take her on an adventure in imagination. Because I knew that once they captured her imagination, they would not release it.
My daughter is going on 9 now. She’s lost eight teeth so far, and she’s had many visits from Bumblefee and all of her tooth fairy friends.
Despite all this evidence to the contrary, she continues to believe in them. I know most of her friends don’t, though, and have said as much to her. Given this, I knew it was time to have a straight talk, so I asked her point-blank the other day, “Do you think the tooth fairies are real?”
She wanted to know why I asked this. It was almost as if she was afraid they would go away if she said the wrong thing. After a long pause, she answered, “Well, they’re real in my imagination.”
Exactly. And there they will live on.
The next time your child loses a tooth, take advantage of that opportunity to go with them on an adventure in imagination. Develop your own tooth fairy characters and storylines, or try out one of ours. You won't regret the effort!