Saturday, June 2, 2012

The price of parenting



When did baby teeth become so expensive?
This week my six-year-old daughter asked me one of those questions that are nearly impossible for parents to answer.
The kind that make you “um” and “aah” while searching the empty parts of your brain for some creative genius response that will not only answer the question but leaves the child with no further uncomfortable questions.
She asked: “Why did the Tooth Fairy give Charlie $5 and I only got $1?”
First I have to say “Thanks very much, Charlie’s mum, for inflating the price of baby teeth!”
When I was a child, 20 cents was the standard reward for giving your teeth away.
Then when my daughter lost her first tooth last month I figured that a gold coin is a little more impressive than 20 cents, so $1 was slipped into the little felt pouch that had “Tooth Fairy” embroidered on it, and the tiny tooth went to live in a ring box in the bottom of a drawer.
But it wasn’t the first time my daughter had asked about the tooth fairy. 
Many of her peers had lost teeth already, some more than one, and the going rate for teeth changed day by day from $1 to $5.
Some even got toys as well as cash.
Parents, I implore you... there is no need to reward a lost tooth with a toy. You are only making it harder for the rest of us!
So when the first little wobble occurred within my daughter’s mouth, I prepared myself with a variety of loose change, a little pouch to put the tooth in, and bought a little container of fairy dust featuring a fairy sitting on the lid. 
This fairy dust was to compensate my child every time she asked why she didn’t get as much money as her friends. And so far, it has worked.
It’s sad state when we are trying so hard to keep an imaginary being alive, we will do almost anything (and pay almost anything) to stop our children finding out the truth.
I keep the Tooth Fairy alive in my house because I want to preserve my daughter’s innocence for as long as I can. My parents did this for me, and I treasure those memories of anticipation waiting for a fairy, bunny or jolly fat man in a red suit bearing gifts.
She wasn’t afraid to loose a tooth, and she was grateful for the gifts she received.
I recently read a funny article written by a mother called “I want to meet Everyone, and give them a piece of my mind”.
Everyone, she said, has an influence on her child because almost every day she hears a comment such as this:
“Everyone has an iphone.”
“Everyone has expensive shoes.”
“Everyone is going to the party.”
“Everyone is allowed to dye their hair.”
And so on, and so on.
Peer pressure is a mine field for both children and parents, and the older a child is, the harder it gets.
There is a whole other column I could write about this topic (stay tuned for next week) but instead I ask all parents to consider what messages they are giving their children, and what these message are doing to their wallets.
If the Tooth Fairy gives out $5 cash and toys for one tooth, what’s the next tooth going to cost? Remember there are 20 baby teeth that will fall out and this adds up to $100, plus extra for other gifts. 
To be honest, I’d rather spend that amount on toothpaste than reward my child for one of life’s most repetitive milestones.

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