The Defeated Tooth Fairy

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As a writer, stay-at-home dad to my 12-year-old daughter, Jessie, and husband to Mattie, I play many roles. One of my infrequent but treasured roles — the tooth fairy — is about to come to an end. I can’t believe my little girl is down to just two baby teeth. 

Jessie knows the true identity of the tooth fairy and realizes she has only a few more opportunities to play along. She has always made such a big production when she has loose teeth that I was shocked when she walked into my home office one recent evening with a large molar in her hand and a tissue in her mouth. I had missed not only the preview, but the entire dramatic movie produced by and starring my daughter. I thought, This is too good to be true! Only two to go.

Little did I realize that, though I may have missed the tooth-pulling drama, the entertainment had yet to begin. Since Mattie was out of town for a couple of days, tooth fairy duties fell solely on me, which — in teeth past — hadn’t been a problem. However, Jessie wanted to keep things challenging. She achieved her goal. 

Jessie is a sound sleeper. I think I could crash cymbals above her head and, come morning, she wouldn’t know a musical performance had taken place. On tooth fairy night, I didn’t have cymbals, only a five-dollar bill. There certainly has been inflation since the tooth fairy brought me 25 cents. 

I sneaked into Jessie’s room and gently placed my hand under her pillow — around, over, under and between numerous stuffed animals. First attempt — nada. Second try — nothing but a monkey’s tail. Third attempt — still no plastic bag with a big molar in it.

Jessie had informed me prior to going to bed that she planned to “hide it well.” She did!

My texts to Mattie at 11:04 p.m. summed up my situation. “I searched and searched and searched. She told me she was going to hide it inside one of her stuffed animals, but then thought that would be too hard for the tooth fairy to find. Love, the defeated tooth fairy.”

Not one to give up, I made a final attempt before heading to bed. Strike four! My text to Mattie at 11:23 p.m. read, “The tooth fairy tried one more time. I bumped into the end of her bed. I bumped into her three-way floor lamp. She’s a sound sleeper. I reached under all her pillows and lifted a few stuffed animals. I picked up her pillow pet. Nothing! Then, she groggily opened her eyes and gave me a weak ‘hi’. Love, a worn-out tooth fairy.”

She had caught me in the act! I went to bed.

When Jessie awoke in the morning, she asked, “Why didn’t the tooth fairy come?” She then told me that before she caught the tooth fairy in action, she wanted to make it easier for the tooth fairy to find her tooth, so she left a small portion of the baggie sticking out from underneath her pillow.

Later that night, Mattie, who had returned from her trip, took her turn as tooth fairy. After Jessie fell asleep, she undertook her search-and-seize mission before locating the molar in the baggie. Jessie made $5 while providing our family, and a few stuffed animals, with some special memories. 

Mattie and I are only two baby teeth and $10 away from retiring our wings, which is bittersweet. We won’t miss the tooth-pulling drama, but all three of us have cherished the tooth fairy adventures. 

Maybe I had the prize — much bigger than a molar — all along.

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available at Follow him at and on Twitter @patrickhempfing.


Categories: Dads, Parenting