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May 18, 2016


Jeff Rothkopf

Subject: A more healthful Halloween tradition


After reading your tooth fairy blog and your request for other fairy-related stories, I couldn't help thinking about the annual Halloween tradition my family developed when my son was younger. We followed the tradition from age 3 to about age 10 or 11. Here's what I wrote about the tradition years ago:

As many do, I consider Halloween to be primarily a kid's holiday. Dads have Father's Day, Moms have Mother's Day, and kids have Halloween (though one could argue that until the child turns 18, every day is in some way "kid's day"...!). Traditionally, children at Halloween focus their joy upon (a) the trick-or-treating itself, and (b) the amount of candy they can amass, consume, and subsequently cramp over.

Not wanting to see our child develop obscene weight, cavity, and digestive problems but still wanting Halloween to be a joyous day for our kid, we've developed a tradition in our family. Our 6-year-old son Adam gets to enjoy the fun of dressing up and trick-or-treating. However, when it comes to the consumption of his bounty, he gets to choose one candy per year that he's been alive (plus one, he convinced us...he's bound to be a lawyer or mediator some day...), so this year he'll be selecting 7 candies.

However, he cashes in the rest of his goodies for money. The current exchange rate for Halloween candies in our household is a nickel for each candy he has above and beyond those few that he is allowed to keep. In 2003, when he was only 3 years old, he wound up with $10.60 (he actually chose to only take one candy so that he would have more to spend!); in 2004, he wound up with $9.20; in 2005, he wound up with $10.20. He counted out the candies (212 in 2003, 184 in 2004, 204 in 2005), then counted out the coins and determined how much they were worth.

Then, he gets to take his money to a local store and purchase something(s) he would like to buy. We traditionally go to local thrift shops or garage sales, since he can get more "bang" for his bucks. The benefits of what we do:

(1) No toothaches or massive cramps

(2) He still gets to have SOME candy, which in our household is a rarity
rather than a mainstay, but the sweets are greatly limited

(3) He practices his addition (counting candies and coins) and multiplication (what IS 212
times 5 cents?)

(4) He learns how to budget his money to purchase things he wants, and even to haggle with a
vendor if he's a teensy-bit short (as he was in 2003).

(5) He still gets the joy of trick-or-treating and dressing up and he still gets the joy of
getting special prizes (his thrift shop selections), making this a true kids' holiday.

(6) My wife and I don't have to debate over how much candy he can consume (we don't always agree
one hundred percent...surprise surprise!)

In addition...for those parents who already tell their kids about a "tooth fairy"...we have a secondary tradition. Just as kids hear about the infamous "Tooth Fairy" (who, along with the "Tooth Dwarf", builds homes for other fairies with the teeth she collects), we invented the "Sugar Fairy". Apparently, unlike humans (who don't really NEED sugar in their diet), the Sugar Fairy (and those in her world) needs the sugar in order to survive. We put the excess candy into a bag and place the bag outside our front door before our son goes to sleep...and magically, the candy is gone in the morning, replaced by a very nice Thank You note from the Sugar Fairy. This additional part of the tradition...

(a) Promotes charity...giving to a worthy cause (the Sugar Fairy's survival).

(b) Models appropriate gift behavior (the prompt Thank You note from the Sugar Fairy).
(*In fact, my son learned from the Sugar Fairy and later chose to write thank you notes to
the Tooth Fairy each time a tooth was collected, eventually creating a then-ongoing
letter-writing exchange with the inhabitants of the fairy world.*)

While I sometimes felt slightly ambivalent about perpetuating another fictitious character (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc), I ultimately didn't see the harm in those early years and, in fact, I think it also promoted his imagination. Additionally, when my son finally discovered the truth about the fairy world, he was able to easily accept it and still appreciated the years of imaginative fun and fellowship that he'd had with the fairy world...and we continued the Halloween tradition sans fairies into his teenaged years.

I'm sure there are plenty of health-conscious parents who would embrace this relatively candy-free tradition. If anything, we believe it made Halloween even MORE of a fun kid's holiday than if we had gone the traditional route!


Jeff Rothkopf


My dentist told my oldest that the first tooth gets $20!!! Seriously?!?!? $20!!!! I gave her the evil stink eye and she quickly followed up with $1.00 for every tooth after that,

William Gee

Our first tooth was $10. (I only got a quarter, but I suppose that's inflation for you) My son is an only child, so I suppose it's okay to inflate the price a bit. He uses the money to buy video games.

I do wonder about the whole mythology about the Tooth Fairy, Santa, etc. My son's a really smart kid and he's almost 8 years-old, so I'm expecting him to see through the illusion soon. Both my wife and I go out of our way to maintain the illusion, so I'm thinking that even after he "figures it out", he'll keep up the illusion for our sake because he knows how happy it makes us as a family.

The key here is to believe in the "magic" yourself. That "magic" isn't the illusion of the tooth fairy, of course. The Magic is the unconditional love you have for your child.


Our son is almost 8 years old. He just lost another tooth, and he got $3 for this tooth. We started out by giving him the golden $1 coin for each of the first couple of teeth he lost. Then it moved between $2-$5 depending upon how much cash the tooth fairy was carrying around that night.
He already figured out that mom and dad were the Tooth Fairy a few teeth ago, but he still wants to have fun and play along. He still makes us leave his door a little open when he goes to bed, so that there is enough room for the Tooth Fairy to come in his room and get his tooth.

Ginger Clyne

How interesting that the Tooth Fairy leaves different things in different homes. In our house, TF leaves a different amount every time she visits. It always includes a handful of random change and the crumpled folding money is wadded up around the coinage to make a little joyous ball of moolah. The recipient takes great delight in carefully counting up the haul. (Is that the reason for so many small-value coins? Hmmmm....) The total amount varies between ~$2 and ~5 with no recognizable pattern except that, for unknown reasons, the two top front teeth seem to garner a premium.

One noteworthy item about TF visitations: she will not enter a room that is messy. The first time this happened, the bewildered little toothless kid came barging into Mom & Dad's room holding the tooth that was STILL under her pillow the next morning, demanding an explanation. Wiping the sleep out of her eyes, Mom pointed out how scary a messy room would be to a tiny delicate creature like a fairy. (Uh, yeah. It had nothing to do with how tired Mom was the night before and how she unexpectedly crashed early. Nothing to do with that.) This has happened several times since then, so that "messy room" theory holds up.


The tooth fairy!! I swear that little sprite has nearly caused divorce in my household many times over who was not only going to the bank but then going to buy a pack of gum or something for change at 11 pm- which is inevitably when we remember!! The first tooth always get 5 dollars, a toy and a note from Toothy (our fairy).. After that it's 5 dollars. We attempted to give a smaller amount- 2 dollars- on my oldest son's third tooth, but the meltdown that ensued over Toothy being mad that his teeth weren't clean enough (dagger look to my husband- that's what HIS MOTHER tells them- thanks Grandma!) caused me to go rummaging through my bag until I could find three more crumbled up ones and convince Son1 that he must have knocked them off the bed when he woke up and got the other dollars.
So now the tooth fairy is standing strong at 5 dollars, and I find myself faced with a difficult question... Maybe some mommy friends can help me out here. When, pray tell, is this crap going to end. I love the innocence, the magic, the joy of Santa and the fun, competitive Easter mornings as they wrestle over eggs and see how much candy they can destroy these teeth with. But the tooth fairy angers me. Why do I feel compelled to give them 5 dollars because an unrooted, hard, bony enamel-coated structure in the jaws of most vertebrates- falls out of their face?? When are they going to stop believing that a pint sized fairy named Toothy flies magically into their room at night- psychically knowing that they have lost a tooth... Is she a shark? Does she smell blood? How does she know?? I thought by now I could still play Santa off and maybe even grab a year or two more out of the Easter Bunny (they are all boys 10,8,4) but I thought by the time someone hit 8- it would be done.
I know that when the mysticism and magic is gone I will miss it. I will miss the excitement and I will miss taking them to the store to spend their money that's burning a hole in their pocket... I will not miss the 11 pm 7-11 runs, that turn into ice cream runs that turn into heart burn for me at 2 am.. But for now, I embrace it... Begrudgingly :)


An acquaintance of mine, now in his 80s, told me a tooth fairy story of how many, many years ago he had become a widower with three children while in his early 30s. His work required him to travel frequently so he relied on neighbors and babysitters to keep the family going. When he finally decided to date he found the airplane hostesses to be very dateable so on one such return from a business trip he invited one such lovely hostess to spend the weekend at his home in Connectucut. When they got to the house it was late in the evening and the children were already in bed, in fact the babysitter informed him all three were fast asleep in his bed. She also let him know his youngest had lost a tooth and was expecting the tooth fairy to visit that night. After having dinner and drinks with his date they decided to not disturb the children; his date offered to sleep in one of the two beds in the youngest child's bedroom. He remembers thinking how angelic she looked as she let loose her long blonde hair from the bun it was in for work. Of course tired as he was, he forgot the money from the tooth fairy. At some point early the next morning his youngest woke up and after not finding any money from the tooth fairy, padded over to his room to see if perhaps she had left it there. "All I remember," my friend said, "is being violently shaken awake by Daniel who was screaming 'Daddy, daddy, wake up - the tooth fairy fell asleep in my bed!!!'"

Amy Mitchell

One silver dollar per tooth. In fact, I give the same silver dollars that I got when I was a little girl. It was only after my dad died, that I realized he had a stash of only about 6 silver dollars that got used for every tooth. When I would get my silver dollar from the tooth fairy he told me to give him the silver dollar that he would hold on to it in his jewelry box. Pretty funny. I am doing the same thing with these 6 silver dollars. They usually end up in the washing machine, and I put them in my drawer to be used on the next tooth!


Well I am a mother of four and basically STARTED what turned into a traditional mascaraed for the whole tooth fairy extravaganza. I love to celebrate and enjoy, yet indulge on these prime aspects in our children s lives. i feel every child deserve the chance to maintain the innocence of being a child, harboring imagination and gentleness that form the molding for a bright , idea seeking, entrepreneur of our modern today. With that said, my daughter the oldest has a sad turning to the start of losing her teeth. Her grown teeth were set slightly behind her baby teeth. Meaning, like a shark grows another row that's what it looked like was going to take place but great news is now with all teeth gone, nothing a few years of braces wont satisfy and help mend. With this happening the way it did, my daughters dentist informed us that the only way to get the baby teeth out since the natural method of big guy on campus: wasn't an option: " BIGGER TOUGHER MEAN TOOTH bullying the baby tooth out so it can move on in. . So my daughter fell into tears knowing that she has three big teeth coming in and wanted to be so proud of them but, in one week she was going to have to go to the dentist WHICH ALL THE OTHER KIDS DIDN'T HAVE TO DO., AND IT WAS SCARY SHES GOING JUST SO THEY CAN PULL OUT HER TEETH. So, lets see i'm a kid who is excited at the idea of getting money for something that just happens natural, that's like getting $5 every-time we sneeze :). Also being a kkids that stays tough and friendly with the dr. appointments even shots, and now your worst fear is happening, they are no longer your friends but a professional. They informed us they'd give her sill gas and she wouldn't even know a thing, SHE DIDN'T and boy did i get amazing video footage for a later in life family giggle together lol. SHE WAS SCARED AT FIRST BECAUSE THEY SWADDLE LOCKED HER DOWN HANDS OVER THE CHEST LIKE A VAMIPRE AND PINNED TO A BORED WITH CLOTH JAWS OF LIFE, THEN THE POKE TO NUMBER WHICH PAINFULLY SHE FELT. AFTER THAT WAS A LOT OF DROOL AND WELL LITTLE PURPLE MONKEYS WAVING HI ALL THE WAY HOME LOL. With how tretourous this experience in my books must be and the thought of every tooth being that way i knew i had to GO BIG OR GO HOME... so i got out the card stock paper, crafting supplies and made a glitterful and very fairy pretty scavenger hunt, while ending my simple letter with, " Dear i promise you'll be happy at the end of our game, but i figured i'd make you work for it since you rolled over on me and i was trapped in your ear ! OH BOY DID THAT END NOTE LEAVE STORIES TO TELL AND HOOTS FOR HOLLERS STILL TO THIS DAY . the rules to the scavenger hunt were simple, along the way she would gather one more note and add another sibling to the mix. So three steps later + 2 BROTHER & 1 SISTER EACH CLUE AND STEP TOLD THEM WHERE THE HIDDEN ITEMS WERE GROUPED TOGETHER IN MY OFFICE ROOM. THE FIRST DRAWER, A NOTE THAT SAID REMEMBER TO BRUSH DAILY- A TOOTH BRUSH FOR EACH CHILD, 2ND DRAWER INDIVIDUALLY TOOTHPASTE AND RINSING CUP WITH A NOTE THAT SAID PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF GERMS ONE CUP AT A TIME, AND THE THIRD DRAWER $1.00 PER SIBLING AND $5.00 PER TOOTH PLUS A CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION FOR loosing those teeth AND HELPING THE FAIRY WALL ON TOOTHERY GROW 2 TEETH AT A TIME, a small letter for the siblings saying good job on ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTING THE SCARY TOOTH LOSING MOMENT!. Now every year thats my basis outline. SCAVENGER HUNT, LITTLE MAGICAL BIT NOTES, AND EVERYONE is recognized in the moment because let's be honest brothers and sisters try their darnedest to help get that tooth out one way or another.(ESPECIALLY WHEN MOMS BACK IS TURNED)

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