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Is It Too Late for the Tooth Fairy?

by Connie Sellars-Buckalew, Area Director of Partners Resource Network and Mother of a Special Needs Child

Somewhere amidst the fairy tales of childhood, my most memorable recollections, is waiting for the arrival of the Tooth Fairy. Magical as Christmas, preparing for the visitation of the Tooth Fairy was total enchantment!

At an early age I was spellbound by books containing folklore and literature that made the wispy wings of fairies inspiring to me. Disney further sparked my imagination as Tinkerbell showered glistening fairydust upon me. To this very day, I cannot walk through a forest or a hollow or see a fairy ring of mushrooms without reliving dreams of leprechauns, pixies, and fairies.

I remember the sheer excitement I shared with my brothers and cousins when any of us suddenly realized we had a loose tooth. Immediately schemes began to be hatched on how to pull the tooth as painlessly as possible. We predicted which night the tooth would finally be out, securely placed under the pillow, awaiting the Tooth Fairy and the exchange of money or a small gift.

I can still hear the laughter of my grandparents as they offered helpful hints they used as children to pull teeth. These stories included the old "Tie a string to your tooth, and attach the other end to the doorknob" method. We, of course, abandoned that idea quickly.

Being the mom of a child with special needs has brought me even greater mysteries than those of fairies, pixies, and leprechauns. Where have all the baby teeth gone? My son, Barry, being hearing impaired and nonverbal, was unable to communicate to me when he had a loose tooth. One by one, his teeth disappeared leaving me bewildered and a bit guilty. "A good mom should know these things," I told myself. Had my child swallowed his teeth with the mashed potatoes or guzzled them down with the Dr. Pepper? Never once did I discover one of these precious teeth, to my disappointment. They seemed to just pop out like popcorn and vanish into thin air.

I was a definite killjoy as I enviously listened to the moms of other kids tell their yarns of preparing for my long-lost Tooth Fairy. Sadly, I thought back to those traces of my past.

Remarkably, after two years of helping Barry brush his permanent teeth, those "lost pearls" have recently begun to reappear in odd places. One toppled out of a bathroom cabinet as I replaced the shelf paper. Another was swept out from under the refrigerator. Running my hands under chair cushions has proven profitable in finding loose change and (you guessed it) . . . The last one caught my eye as I vacuumed the carpet under the seats of my car.

Each new revelation brought some misty fantasy from my past. My heart skipped a beat, and then, once I fell back to earth from cloud-nine, I knew I had some decisions to make. What is to be done with these tiny remembrances of my son's babyhood? Is it too late for the Tooth Fairy or should I keep them in a babyhood jar? Better yet, I could make jewelry!

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