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Tooth fairy becomes a houseguest

Because our daughter is beginning to lose them, teeth are a big topic in our home these days. When her friends are over, they compare notes on which teeth have fallen out and which teeth are in motion.

"I have a loose tooth," is a line I often hear when greeting one of our daughter's playmates.

More and more, we are beginning to see toothless grins around here.

Our daughter officially lost her first tooth last week. This does not include the one that was "wiggled out" by the dentist a couple of years ago. Rather, this one fell out naturally.

It happened last weekend shortly after I had dropped her off at my mother's so I could run a couple errands. When I returned two hours later, I heard the news.

She had lost a tooth -- and she had swallowed it.

Swallowed it?, I asked.

Yes, I was told, while she was eating a sandwich.

And so it goes in a 6 1/2 -year-old's world.

That night she wrote a note to the tooth fairy explaining that while she had lost a tooth, she hadn't really LOST it. It was in her stomach.

"You must have been very hungry," the tooth fairy wrote back.

This note exchange occurred in an object I never had as a child -- a tooth fairy pillow. There's a little pocket on the pillow for the tooth and, after the tooth fairy visits, it becomes a depository for a coin or rolled-up bill. This time around, the tooth fairy rolled up a reply in a dollar bill, although our daughter woke to find not only the bill and handwritten note but also a Susan B. Anthony coin. For the record, that coin was not left behind by the tooth fairy I know.

Apparently, the tooth fairy visited twice -- or she has a generous assistant.

When I was a kid, we left our tooth in a glass of water next to our beds. We never did the under-the-pillow approach, and I know why. My mother would have worried that the tooth would find its way into our ears -- and then what?

I also can remember that a loose tooth would hang on by a thread for what seemed like years to me.

One time, in one of those Where-is-a-parent? scenarios, my older brother suggested tying one end of a piece of string around my loose tooth and the other around the knob of an open door. If he slammed the door hard enough, he told me, surely that tooth would go flying.

As with similar silly stunts, I do not fully recall all the details, but I think I managed one of those "I'm-outta-here" exits and lost my tooth the good old-fashioned way. By constantly wiggling, jiggling and twisting it.

Fairies are something my daughter sees in books, on TV and in dolls such as Fairytopia, which are winged Barbie dolls that, at times, seem to be taking over the world. Curious, I asked our daughter, "What do you think the tooth fairy looks like?"

Without hesitating, she responded: "She has a wand and wings, and she has a dress with teeth on it. And, instead of a wand with a star, there's a tooth on it. Her shoes have a tooth on them. She has a tooth ring and a crown on her head with a tooth on it. She has really shiny teeth and short hair -- it's really light hair -- and she has pink lipstick, I think," she said.

I, for one, wholeheartedly welcome the tooth fairy with the shiny teeth into our home because I know there will be a time when she no longer needs to drop by, and the fairy pillow will be packed away with the receiving blankets and pull-along toys.

And, if she happens to leave behind a little fairy dust for me to clean up, well, that's OK, too.

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