News and Tribune

July 15, 2013

CUMMINS: The Tooth Fairy is a myth

Local columnist

Teaching a child the way it should go began with Cain and Abel. But Adam and Eve didn’t have manuals to go by, nor did they have child psychologists and long, drawn-out therapy. As we learned early in Genesis, the two brothers didn’t get along. Eve used the wait-until-your-father-gets-home approach. When Adam returned after having a bad day at the fish pond, he said to Eve, dressed provocatively in a leaf, “I’m hungry.” We know what happened then. God’s wrath came down, and since then, child-rearing theories and practices eventually evolved into training children to watch television. This worked well until boys and girls went into cyberspace, and now send photos of themselves dressed like Eve.

God stressed honesty in all things. To keep children in line, He said to obey parents, who lead the way to reality. But to reduce friction, parents transfer tension to Santa Claus, who drops down chimneys into a fire. Tell children to never play with fire, but explain that Santa’s red suit is what firemen wear. Parents play politics with children, as if they vote. Promise them anything to keep their mouths shut. Tell them whatever to win their support. Promise them elves, fairies and baskets full. Any babe with any sense at all soon learns parents are faking it.

Other lies we tell. Big business associates the Easter basket with the Cross. Mothers insist their little children draw Valentines to send to grandparents, who shed tears of love by sending money back to grandchildren. This could be a lesson in piggy-bank economics, but, no, parents give in and let their kids buy candy. Holidays are celebrations of, among other things, the candy industry, a time of every color in the rainbow. 

Halloween is a time to teach ethics. Trick or treat is a valuable lesson necessary for introduction to the rat race. Each holiday teaches marketing skills, and kids also learn to distinguish colors during these holidays. Celebrating with red, green, orange and black candy is what kids live for. Easter is a Reese’s Egg, and Independence Day is remembered by the yellow on a hot dog. It’s the worst thing we do for them, rot their teeth. What happened to old-fashioned honesty?   

Consider the Tooth Fairy in the scheme of child guidance. To avoid pain, we tell kids dental drillers are good for them. We also tell them that God, angels and fairies protect them. There is no tooth angel, and God is too busy to drill teeth. So to lessen the trauma, we explain that when a tooth drops out, the Tooth Fairy leaves money (candy) under the pillow.   

We tell kids these things, and surprisingly, begin to believe in witches, fairies and Santa Claus ourselves. Think the lottery is not Santa in disguise? Government wants every day to be Christmas for you, and that’s why they employ elves to print money.

Two age groups fantasize — kids and the Grey Panther group. An elderly panther’s working body parts — sight, sound, knees and teeth — decay.  Believe in elves, angels, fairies, all magical and God, too. Try anything to bring relief, so I hooked up with a Tooth Fairy recently.

Biting and chewing are important to me. Here’s the deal: Dr. Pullum will extract all my stubs, crowns, roots and then install Hollywood teeth inside my mouth. He showed me a photo of George Clooney, smiling. He ground almonds into sawdust as he spoke. Sell my house, and he’d yank and install pearly whites bright as Heaven’s gates. 

Couldn’t get Clooney out of my mind — parties, starlets, solid food to chew. When the house sold at a loss, Pullum took tongs pulling like a mother pushes during birth. He then inserted six steel posts deep down into the jaw bones under my bloody-good gums. After steel and bone meshed for three months, Fairy man then screwed six locators into the steel posts where the Hollywood teeth would be attached.

I was a child, suckling on Jell-O, mashed potatoes and cream of wheat. I threw tantrums dining on gallons of split-pea soup.

Take it like a man I said. Think of the hungry kids throughout. I must believe that if I don’t watch out, Santa will never come. And when the promised teeth are hooked to my stainless-steel posts, I’ll believe in the Tooth Fairy again. Fantasy is OK for the young and the old. Those in between will grow old to dream on soft pillows, too.

— Contact Terry Cummins at