Daniel came home from school the other day with one of his baby teeth in a bloody plastic bag.
“I lost it during reading,” he said. “I was playing with it with my tongue when it fell out.”
“Well, be sure to leave it under your pillow tonight,” I said. “Then the Tooth Fairy will come.”
He smiled. “Maybe I’ll get a DVD burner!”
“Daniel, don’t you think that’s a bit much from the Tooth Fairy?” I said, “Maybe you should ask Santa for a DVD burner instead.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, I mean.” I had an anxious moment, but he continued.
“I get a lot of stuff at Christmas,” he said, “but all I have to do to get it is be good.”
“Well, it’s good for you when a baby tooth falls out,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief. “But being good helps everyone out. It’s a matter of the number of people that it affects. That’s why you get more at Christmas.”
“But this happened in class,” said Daniel. “I have twenty eight kids in my class, plus the teacher.”
“Yes, but –“
“And I was good when my tooth came out. I followed the rules,” said Daniel. “I was bleeding, but I raised my hand to go to the bathroom and I didn’t run in the hallway either.”
“This isn’t Scrabble,” I said. “If you’re good and you lose a tooth, it’s not the moral equivalent of a double word score.”
“I had to bleed real blood for the Tooth Fairy,” he said. “That just isn’t fair.”
I thought a moment. This conversation was getting into some deep philosophical territory.
“Well, all the holiday people – Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy – they all draw from the same Daniel fund,” I said. “If you get something nice now under your pillow, that means you may only get a dollar in your stocking on Christmas Day.”
“That’s okay,” said Daniel. “That way I don’t have to be as good at Christmas.”
“No,” I said quickly. “You still need to be good or the whole fund goes down.”
Daniel frowned. “You mean I have to be good for the Tooth Fairy, but it doesn’t count for anything except at Christmas?”
“Sorry,” I said. “Those are the rules.”
Daniel sighed. “I need a better dental plan.”