Saturday, June 11, 2011

In the Tooth Fairy's Secret Service

Sometimes I like to pretend I'm a secret agent.  I have James Bond on the playlist I clean house to, and I dream up scenarios where the CIA recruits me because no one is going to suspect the Molly Mormon in the minivan of being a spy.  I know, I'm a little on the weird side.  But because of that, I welcomed a recent opportunity to assist the Tooth Fairy in some of her top-secret work.

I was babysitting my sister's three children for a week in May while she and her husband went on a cruise.  Unfortunately, the Tooth Fairy also went on the very same cruise and would not be available to do her tooth rounds during that time.  Well wouldn't you know, about four days into it the oldest, B, came to me and said, "Aunt Becca, look!  I have a loose tooth!"  I congratulated him with a somewhat plastered-on smile and frantically began to figure out how I was going to get in touch with my sister in the middle of the Caribbean to find out the going rate for baby teeth in their household--did you know some kids get five whole dollars under their pillow?  Sheesh.  Inflation. 

After phoning their ship, only to find that they weren't in their cabin but rather off doing something fun (the nerve), I had the brilliant idea to wheedle the information out of my nephews.  I casually asked, "so, how much does the Tooth Fairy bring you for lost teeth these days?"  They replied that she brought one dollar.  Silently congratulating myself on my cleverness in getting the information so quickly, I checked the cash my sister and brother-in-law had left for us to use.  Thankfully, a transaction with the ice cream truck a few days before had provided us with plenty of dollar bills in change.  I was all set to play Tooth Fairy that night.

This might be a good place to tell you that my sister's house is one of the creakiest known to man.  A spider can walk across the floor and it will creak loud enough to be heard several counties over.  Because of this, I decided to play it safe that night and dress up as the Tooth Fairy in case my nephews woke up and caught me taking B's tooth.  I did not want to be accused of stealing said tooth, nor did I want to be responsible for shattering their innocent belief in diminutive sprites that exchange money for teeth.  So I put on a dress that I didn't think I would wear during my stay, put my hair in a puffy top knot on top of my head, and put on glasses, thinking that if it worked for Clark Kent, it could work for me.

In my brilliant disguise, I crept down the hall, positioning my feet close to the walls where the creaking was lessened.  I silently pushed open their door and poked my head in.  The boys were snoring away.  I tiptoed in on bare feet so softly I would have made an Indian warrior proud.  I made it to the head of B's bed (top bunk) and, holding the dollar, slipped my hand under the pillow.  Did you ever notice how much noise a dollar can make when it rubs against a pillowcase?  And why do we put teeth under our pillows in the first place?  Did nobody think, back when the whole thing was decided, that our ears sit directly on our pillows?  I cringed at the racket I was making, but I almost jumped out of my skin when B's snoring stopped and he shifted on his pillow.  Ducking down, I waited for him to settle in again.  When he did, I reached under his pillow again in search of the tooth.  I couldn't find it anywhere, which was strange considering the fact that he had placed it in a large Tupperware container to keep it from getting lost.  I was running my hand around under the pillow in an increasingly desperate attempt to complete my mission and retrieve the tooth when I heard a slow intake of breath which could either be a yawn or the gasp of wonder a little boy lets out when he sees the Tooth Fairy.  Certain I had been spotted, I abandoned the tooth hunt, and dashed out of the room, the floor creaking all the way.

No matter, I thought.  I could remember a few times when my tooth had still been under my pillow in the morning, along with the dollar, as if the Tooth Fairy didn't want or need it.  B would understand.  The next morning B came waltzing into the kitchen, tooth in Tupperware, and said, "I need a different container." 

"Why?" I asked.  "Didn't the Tooth Fairy take your tooth?"

"No, she didn't come.  Maybe because it wasn't under my pillow."

Wait a second.  "What?  Are you sure she didn't leave a dollar?  And where was your tooth?"

"No, there wasn't a dollar.  I put my tooth off to the side of my pillow because the container was too big to sleep on, so maybe she didn't know I lost it," B replied as he transferred his tooth to a smaller, flatter container.

After a short discussion, we concluded that the Tooth Fairy hadn't come either because her radar didn't get set off when he failed to put the tooth under his pillow, or because I had been up frequently in the night taking care of two babies who didn't want to sleep and kept waking each other up (but that's another story), and had consequently frightened her away.  He resolved to try again that night, and when he left for school I went upstairs to investigate the case of the missing dollar.  I lifted his pillow and it was right there at the top of the bed where I left it, but apparently he had only lifted half of his pillow to look for the dollar and had missed it.

Operation Tooth Fairy, take two.  That night I was so exhausted from being up so much the night before I couldn't bring myself to dress up.  I figured that if the boys caught me I could just claim I was making sure B had remembered to leave his tooth under his pillow.  By this point I also realized that my nephews must be sound sleepers if they hadn't woken up to the din of me running from their room the night before, so I wasn't quite so cautious and on-edge.  I slipped into their room, located the container, switched the tooth with the dollar, and put it back under the pillow, all without a hitch.  Mission accomplished.

As fun as the experience was, it has made me terrified of helping the Tooth Fairy when my own children start losing teeth.  J is a light sleeper with inconveniently acute hearing.  More and more I find myself wishing I had been there in that grand parental council in the beginning where the mythical bunnies and fairies and bearded saints were decided on.  If I had, it probably would have gone something like this:

Adam:  Next order of business--what to do when our children start losing teeth. 
Eve:  I move that we have a fairy come take them and leave money in exchange.  We'll call her the Tooth Fairy.  And let's make her a cute tiny fairy.  About six inches tall.
Me:  Are you kidding?  And what if you want to dress up like this Tooth Fairy?  How are you going to make yourself six inches tall?  And have you ever seen what fairies wear?  Itty bitty sparkly dresses.  They don't exactly make it easy to hide your real identity.  I move we create the Tooth Bandit who dresses in black and wears a ski mask.
Adam:  She does have a point.  I second the motion.  All in favor?  (All hands go up).  And now, where are we going to have the children leave their teeth for the Tooth Bandit to find them? 
Seth:  How about under their pillow?
Me:  No good.  What about side sleepers who have their ear to their pillow all night long?  They'll catch him for sure. Let's have them leave them in their shoes instead!  Their shoes that we will teach them to leave by the front door to avoid tracking dirt into the house, as all good children should.
Adam:  Brilliant!  You have a gift, my dear.
Me:  Thanks, Adam.

Sadly, I wasn't there.  Ah well.  I guess I'll just have to keep honing my secret agent skills.