Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?

January 11, 2018

I'll trade you my tooth envelope for your Elf on the Shelf.


No, no, no, no. No. No. This is like "Elf on the Shelf" bad without the commercialization. Actually, no, there is commercialization if you read the author's note at the end.

So this little boy, Gabi, has a loose tooth. Whenever he loses a tooth, he puts it in a special envelope from his parents under his pillow (envelopes which you can buy from the website at the end of the book!) and the next morning he gets a letter from Gwyneth, who is his "personal tooth fairy" and always says things like, "You're a amazing person! I love your teeth! They're great!" And leaves him a silver dollar and a penny. He even keeps the notes, so it's a meaningful ritual to him. As he gets older, he overhears kids talking about how fairy tales aren't real, like Goldilocks and Rumpelstiltskin (jeez, I hope my children don't end up thinking those are actual real stories) and then the Easter Bunny isn't real and the Tooth Fairy isn't real, that it's moms and dads who tiptoe into your room, throw away your old teeth, and leave behind a gift. So he gets upset and goes to his dad and says, "I need you to tell me the truth. Is there really a tooth fairy named Gwyneth who comes and takes my teeth, or is it you?" And then his dad sits him down and says, "Okay, this is the most honest answer I can give you. A long time ago, there were dinosaurs and mastodons and dodo birds and they're all gone." Up until this point, the book is fine, and then it takes a sharp left turn into Malarkeyville and says, "There were also unicorns, minotaurs, mermaids, dragons, wizards, trolls, and elves. And there were fairies. There were so many fairies. There were fairies all over the place. But because of technology, magic went away, and all the magical creatures went away and the last to go were the fairies who maybe went to uncharted islands, the stars, or the moon. We don't know where they are, but they're not here. So all the children were very sad because the fairies were leaving and they missed them (and the gifts that they left) so the last fairy to go says, "You're never gonna see us again, but if you listen you might be able to hear our voices. A quote from the book: "From this day forth, your parents must take the teeth from beneath your pillows. Then they will sit in a quiet place with a pencil in their hands. They'll close their eyes and soon they'll hear a voice inside their heads. The voice will tell them what to write and what treasures to exchange. And as long as their children believe in this magic, then so long will we fairies keep speaking. And you shall have our words and our little gifts of love." And then the question is raised, "Is it really fairies or our parents' imagination?" And then the fairy says, "Nobody will know. You just have to trust that it's really the fairy."

So the father tells the son, "Okay, I'm the one that takes the envelope, but I sit and I meditate and I hear the voice of a fairy talking to me and I write down what it says and whether or not the voice is actually the fairy or if it's my own imagination is up to you." And then Gabi says, "You know what, I don't know, but I'm gonna believe that it's true." And then the next day his loose tooth falls out and he gets a letter which says, "I have given you many gifts. But you have given yourself the greatest gift of all--possibilities. May magic fill your life. Your world will never be ordinary, for you have chosen to live by your heart." And then he's happy and his little brother loses his first loose tooth.

At the end, there's a note from the author that says this is all true. His son's name is Gabriel. Gabi is the author's own son (although the dad depicted in this book looks nothing like the author, actor Jason Alexander). So that's what he told his son when his son asked. It says down at the bottom, "The tooth fairy envelope depicted in the book is a replica of the one my family actually uses. They were created by my friend Greg Leonard. You may order them at the following website." So it is kind of selling something. It's selling a tradition, a tradition of writing letters as if you were a tooth fairy. The envelopes aren't made by him, exactly, they're his friend's, but still. Okay, I get that your family has a weird story and tradition. My family certainly didn't do this. My family didn't leave notes from the Tooth Fairy under my pillow. I didn't have to put anything in a special envelope. My guess is my parents were probably too unsure about their ability to get in and out without waking me up, so they just had me leave my tooth in a glass of water in the kitchen, and then the next day the tooth was gone from the glass of water but, poof, there was a dime in there. It was no full-on letter and no meditation by the parents on this. It's just ridiculous.

This is not a good story for kids. It's not good for kids to believe that a long time ago there was magic in the world. That's not true. We understand the world so much. I mean, there's a lot that we don't know, but there's so much that we do, and that's one of the things that we do: you can't break the laws of physics. Fairies never actually did exist. I'm sorry, they didn't. If they did, they would have left fossils. And also, if they existed at the same time as people, then we would have like tons of literary historical evidence of this and it would be incredibly consistent. This isn't like religious figure type stuff, this is superstition type stuff. I mean yes, there are stories of leprechauns and gnomes and stuff, but modern people don't actually believe that once upon a time there were leprechauns but there aren't anymore. No reasonable adult believes that, and trying to convince your child that it's true is a bad idea. It only leaves him open to abuse by unscrupulous people who will take advantage of his naivete. That's how that works.


Fairies are real. At least, they were real, but technology is evil so they're gone now.

Publication Year
  • 2005
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