My wife and I are pretty fanatic when it comes to the tooth fairy.
Being Jewish, there aren’t a whole lot of other imaginary visitors in the lives of our kids. Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. all don’t make stops at our house. Sure, there’s Elijah, the kindly old prophet who visits during Passover and drinks a cup of sickly-sweet wine. That just doesn’t stack up against bunnies and elves who leave toys and chocolate. So, like I said, my wife and I are pretty fanatic when it comes to the patron myth (and Ms.) of dentistry.
In our house, the tooth fairy leaves notes along with cash. Not just for the newly-toothless, but also for the other kids. For the not-quite-reading children, pictographic messages are sent, otherwise it’s multi-colored notes in precise script. . She left a “goodbye” letter to my oldest when she lost her last tooth. She has left “I can’t wait to start visiting you” letters to my one-year-old in his crib.
The other day, Isabelle, my nine year old daughter came home proudly carrying her tooth. The school had thoughtfully triple-bagged it along with a big sign that read “biohazard” in red lettering. Isabelle was pumped. It had been two years since the last tooth and she was ready for some cold hard cash. Out came the plush tooth-shaped pillow with the pocket (tooth goes in, coin comes out the next morning). It’s one of the few times our kids race for bed.
The next morning, Isabelle came downstairs looking confused and vaguely shaken. The tooth fairy hadn’t come! You could tell her world was a slightly less understandable place. Concern was etched on her face.
My wife was desperately trying to ease her concerns. “I’m sure there’s an explanation, honey,” she said as soothingly as she could. From my office I could hear the desperation of a Mom with her back to the wall. I knew it was time for extreme measures. I opened up my internet browser and headed for www.weather.com.
“Stormy weather targets the Ohio Valley” read the headline.
“Perfect!” I thought. Being a computer geek has its drawbacks – public image at the top of a long list that ends with “terminally uncool”. But in this case, my geekhood was a better asset than any fashion conscious GQ magazine poseur could ever hope to have. Heck, in that moment, geekhood was a superpower. “Stormy weather targets the Ohio Valley, throws tooth fairy off course!” read the new headline, replete with the weather.com logo and accompanying graphics.
The story continued: “After another day of devastating tornadoes across the Plains and Missouri Valley on Monday, the action will shift eastward into the Ohio Valley today. The storms have created havoc for normally-reliable public service workers, mail carriers and even the tooth fairy. Fortunately, today should not feature as many tornadoes as the primary threat is expected to be damaging winds. Storms will also continue to rumble across the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley as well. Extra workers, including sprites, pixies and gnomes have been called in to fill in, although delays are expected.”
I printed off a copy and highlighted the important parts. Then I called Isabelle into my office. Nonchalantly, I pointed to the screen. “This just came in on my weather service. I thought you would want to know.” Then I turned back to the program I was debugging, trying hard to watch her face out of the corner of my eye.
Her homeroom teacher, principal, gym teacher and most of her friends got to see the weather report that day, courtesy of “Isabelle the weather kid”. Something in her universe had clearly been validated. The tooth fairy is on weather.com! How much more real do you get than that?
The tooth fairy came that night. Notes were left for everyone, along with the usual cash-and-carry arrangement.
The next morning, Isabelle found an updated weather.com report on the kitchen table: “The threat of heavy rain moves southward; Magical service workers finally catch up.” read the morning headline. “The Tooth Fairy, helped by hundreds of her friends and relatives, was finally able to catch up with her duties today as storms and high winds let up around the region. Heavy rain is likely to roll eastward along a stalled front strung out from the Missouri-Arkansas to the Kentucky-Tennessee border, but it appears she will be able to keep up with demand. With the front expected to stall in that position through Thursday, serious flooding may result as rainfall totals in some locations. A few severe thunderstorms are possible, as well. The only other area of precipitation in the Midwest on Wednesday is likely to be across northern North Dakota, northern Minnesota and the U. P. of Michigan where a few showers will fall. “I want to thank everyone for pitching in and helping out,” said the tired but happy Tooth Fairy. “And I want to thank all the children for being patient and understanding if I was late getting to their house.” ”
I’m sure this will catch up to me someday. I know there’s the chance that Isabelle will ask me something which will require my total honesty, and in her face I’ll read a headline of stormy doubt. She’ll hear my answer and wonder if I’m changing web pages again to cover for my faults. But for the moment my children live in a world where magic is still possible, where goodness is the norm, and where the travel patterns of certain fairies are not only known, but documented on internet weather sites.