Tooth Fairy from the Projects

A young single mother of two moves to some low income apartments in NW Ohio to start a new life. Not wanting to leave her one and three year old babies in the hands of another being so she can go to work, she decides to do the best she can with wages she receives from doing daycare in her home. Sometimes she earns a little extra cash cleaning houses.

It’s a nice life, yet challenging at times. But she knows it’ll be worth it to raise her own babies her own way; to protect and teach them the things that are valuable to her.

Holidays are fine. She uses coupons, shops at Goodwill, creates things from wood and paper. She cooks and bakes everything from scratch. She puts on a feast for the family at Thanksgiving and is generous with friends who stop by.  Unafraid, ’cause God is helping it all to stretch. (But still smart and frugal).

Her firstborn turns 6 and loses his first baby tooth. Back in the day the going rate for a shiny white specimen was a quarter. Mind ya, you could get a Happy Meal for 99 cents and a loaf of bread for 39 cents. If the kid played his cards right, he could do big things with a quarter back then.

Fast forward about 15 years. The tooth fairy has made many appearances at this family’s home and even upped the profit for each tooth to 50 cents.  Sometimes the tooth fairy is out of cash, but she has some food stamps and she’ll slip a Reese’s cup under the pillow in place of the lost tooth. Or maybe a fresh set of pens, drawing pencils, or a notebook for school. Other kids in other places might be making bank on their pearly whites, but these kids are grateful for what they have. In fact, they’re thrilled.

The mother has two more children. One more broken relationship that left her in single parenting mode. Still struggling, but getting some help from the father of the children and plowing forward.

Stuff happens. Too much to tell right now. The mother, who has been fighting against  a mysterious illness for many years, finds that she can no longer go on full force. In other words, she becomes unable to work full time and begins to collect Social Security to help pay the bills.

Her kids are raised, but they have their own problems; their own kind of sickness. The woman is now raising two of her grandchildren and tooth fairy rates are just about through the roof.  Sometimes the tooth fairy searches desperately through her purse for quarters or a dollar bill and comes up short.  Sometimes the money is there, but if the tooth fairy uses it, the toilet paper that needs to be purchased will be left on the shelf at the grocery store. So the woman “lends” the money to the project, then offers to store the cash in her purse till she can take the child to the dollar store to spend it.  Sneaky, humiliating, necessary. She pays the child back on the first of the month when the Social Security comes and he is none the wiser.

The tooth fairy finds the best little doodads on sale for almost nothing. She shops at the Salvation Army, Goodwill, yard sales. The kids think they’re rolling in the dough and the tooth fairy ain’t saying a word to contradict it. Why spoil the magic? Being magical is part of what parenting is all about. 

The tooth fairy gets tired sometimes, though. Sometimes she sleeps through whole thing, then has to be extra stealthy in the early hours of morning before the child awakes. The grandmother makes a new rule to make things a little easier for poor fairy. No putting the tooth under the pillow. Let’s place it right here on the dresser so she won’t miss it! Wouldn’t it be a shame if she couldn’t find the tooth? Ah… the changes this fairy has been through.  I’m glad she has retained her sense of humor.

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