The smart-parent's guide to when the tooth fairy forgets

Did the Tooth Fairy forget to come last night? Tiffany Brown knows why.

Where does the Tooth Fairy story come from? In relatively recent history, there are murky accounts of fearful witches or omens of hardship to come in the afterlife if children failed to burn their baby teeth. In Norse tradition, the payment of a “tooth fee” when a child lost a tooth was recorded as early as the 13th century. The Vikings offered money for children’s baby teeth as good-luck talismans in battle, and Scandinavian warriors wore necklaces of children’s teeth for protection. The oldest recorded mention of our modern fairy, who mysteriously extracts a tooth placed underneath a child’s pillow and replaces it with money, appeared in the “Household Hints” section of the Chicago Tribune in 1908. Nowadays, the majority of Kiwi families continue with this centuries-old premise of exchanging cash for teeth. But with 20 baby teeth per child, can we really expect the Tooth Fairy not to have a single slip-up?

Here our readers share their best responses to those innocent questions from disappointed little people wondering why their deposited tooth went uncollected (without blowing their cover.)

When the tooth fairy is to blame

  • “She hurt one of her wings so she couldn’t fly.” ~ Lyn
  • “The Tooth Fairy had a toothache.” ~ Helen
  • “She forgot her glasses and couldn’t find your tooth.” ~ Sarah
  • “The Tooth Fairy forgot to come two nights in a row. Eeeeek! Poor thing left a note saying she’d had the flu, but she’s feeling better now.” ~ Michelle

When the child’s to blame

Sometimes “defence is the best form of attack” when the Tooth Fairy forgets.

  • “Mr Eight’s bedroom was too messy, so the Tooth Fairy mustn’t have been able to find it. Now he makes sure his bedroom is clean on those nights.” ~ Melissa
  • “Your room was too untidy and she couldn’t get in safely to get the tooth!” ~ Fay
  • “The tooth hadn’t been cleaned properly and was dirty.” ~ Mariette

While this could be an opportunity to encourage preferable behaviour, research has found belief in the Tooth Fairy can provide comfort to a child who experiences fear or pain as a result of losing teeth, so tread carefully if you choose to make your child responsible for a negative outcome.

Employ a little magic

A more positive approach could create the desirable result, as well as ensure you come out smelling of roses.

  • “Sometimes the Tooth Fairy feels a bit mischievous and makes it a treasure hunt. So if you clean your room, well, I am sure you will find it in there somewhere.” ~ Andrea
  • “Are you sure? Here, let me go and look…” ~ Ros
  • “I said it must have fallen on the floor or under the bed and proceeded to look for it. I had the forgotten money in my hand and planted it. ‘Oh here it is!’ = happy child.” ~ Mel

And here’s a great tip to avoid those slip-ups in the future:

“I get my kids to put it on the bathroom windowsill… Logic being the fairy wants to check their toothbrush and toothpaste is being used. Therefore, 1) I can easily do the switch, and 2) I’m reminded when I go to wash up for the night!” ~ Amanda

A pragmatic approach

Some of the most popular excuses provide a helpful opportunity to teach your child some lessons in practicality, assisting them to cope with the little disappointments in life when their expectations fail to be met.

  • “The Tooth Fairy doesn’t deliver every day rural.” ~ Shannon
  • “Missed the cut-off time to get on tonight’s tooth collection.” ~ Stephanie
  • “The Tooth Fairy didn’t get the email that your tooth had come
  • out.” ~ Jenny
  • “Atmospheric conditions.” ~ Vicky
  • “The weather: Too windy, too wet, or too hot.” ~ Tania
  • “The Tooth Fairy sent a text explaining and came the following night.” ~ Julia
  • The notion the Tooth Fairy is just so busy with other children’s teeth that she couldn’t make it to your house is one kids understand quite readily. And there’s an advantage to setting up a make-up night, when you not only remember, but perhaps make it even more special for them.
  • “If she’s too busy to come, she doubles payment the next night! (You
  • don’t forget after that).” ~ Rebecca
  • “I say she must have had lots of teeth to collect that night, and when she does come, she pays a late fee.” ~ Kate
  • But don’t forget how smart kids are. In the following example, parental fibbing has resulted in a whole new standard at their house.
  • “I forgot on the first night of my son’s first two teeth. We just told
  • him the Tooth Fairy must’ve been busy. When he lost his third tooth, he said, ‘I don’t need it under my pillow tonight, the Tooth Fairy never comes on the first night.’” ~ Haley
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