Christine Koh

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I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

The Tooth Fairy’s First Visit

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Modern parenting can create challenges in the most unusual places. Today Tracy writes on an issue she found surprisingly contentious amongst her parent friends; that of how much the tooth fairy is expected to cough up, and what to do with the teeth after the fact. Read on for her solutions, and feel free to post a comment if you have ideas or alternatives to share.
“The day before his first day of first grade, Gabriel lost his first tooth. He had been waiting all summer for this loose tooth to go, and I had been, too. Not the first or last of his peers to lose teeth, Gabriel’s anticipation was of the “What will the tooth fairy bring me?” variety. Mine was of the “What the heck does the tooth fairy bring these days?” kind.

Seriously. What does the tooth fairy bring? When I was a kid I think I started out with some silver coinage and a pack of sugar free gum, and by the time molars were dropping, I received money of the paper kind ($1 or $2 bucks tops), with the requisite pack of gum. These days, kids are raking it in. A quick canvas of our groups of friends showed anything from a token amount of change and a toy/gum/book, etc. to $5 for these teeny little biters. With reports that Angelina Jolie pays her son, Maddox, $50 (that is not a typo, folks) per tooth to spend on anything he wants, trying to find reasonable middle ground is daunting. The last thing you want on your list of things to have Mom guilt about is how you only pay this, while your kid’s BFF gets that. And that. And some of those.

I must admit that I probably obsessed about this topic a little too much; hubby chalked it up to me being neurotic. But, I found it really hard to walk the line of giving something reasonably exciting for such an occasion, and making it ridiculously hard to live up to when teeth are coming out faster than I can get to the ATM. In the end, I settled on some version of what my parents did: sugar-free gum and a $1 coin; perfectly sized to fit in a tooth pouch. I figure with inflation, by the time the last molar comes out I’ll probably have to shell out fivers.

Other good tooth fairy gift ideas are actual tooth care products. Travel sized toothpastes are great, as are those little flossing forks, or an inexpensive tooth brush, depending on how close together the teeth are falling out (two new toothbrushes in a two-week span, for example, might be a bit boring). It’s a good idea to keep in mind that the items have to be small and light enough for someone of fairy-like stature to fly around with and actually deliver. For me, that means that beloved items such as Transformers, Polly Pockets, and hockey sticks are out.

And while I was happy for finally having resolved that end of the tooth fairy issues, after Gabriel and I carefully put his tooth in his little tooth pouch and stuck it under his pillow, and I later replaced the tooth with said coin and gum, I was left with the new question: “Now what do I do with the tooth?” At the moment, it is in a small jeweler’s bag in my underwear drawer. But should I keep it? For what? Will he care later? Is it gross to keep essentially dead teeth?

Another quick canvas of the group of moms led to some interesting and, well, disturbing stories. One of my friends found an envelope in her mother’s linen chest full to bursting with teeth. Every tooth that had fallen out in their house from all four kids had been kept in one envelope for years. Ick. Then there was the mom who had kept each child’s teeth in a separate pill bottle. When she showed them on their 18th birthdays, they were highly unimpressed, while she was all teary and nostalgic.

Again, I’ve decided to stick to the middle ground here. I will keep the first tooth. When my kids lose their last tooth, I will take out the first one and show it to them. They can decide if I should keep it longer, or if we can throw it out once we’ve seen how small their teeth were when they started losing them.”


Beyond Undies

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