I Miss the Tooth Fairy


I remember when my youngest daughter was at the age when her teeth were beginning to fall out. I recall a day when she walked up to me with her hands tightly clasped in front of her like she was hiding a precious jewel. She stood in front of me, held her hands up to me, and said, “Daddy, guess what I got in here?” She said it with a big smile on her face and I could see a huge, empty space in the bottom row of her teeth. It lessened the mystery of what she was hiding in her hands, but she didn’t know that. I played along with her and guessed several obvious things that couldn’t possibly be in her hands. Things like an elephant, an airplane, and anything else I could think of that would make her laugh, while also allowing her to guard her secret. She was dying for me to guess that it was a tooth, which I never did, giving her the joy of sharing the surprise.

These are the kinds of memories that flash before your eyes when you watch a child graduate or achieve some kind of milestone that further secures their entry into adulthood and their exit from childhood. I miss those days. The days of tooth fairies, boogie men, and big monsters hiding under the bed. The one-more-drink requests when my kids couldn’t sleep or just their delight at being around us constantly. These are fleeting moments. Don’t rush them.

For any dads with students who will be graduating from high school or college this year, that celebration may come in the form of mixed emotions. There could be trepidation at the thought of a child leaving home. Or for another parent, the thought of a child coming home! There may be angst over the college bills that will soon flood their mailbox or joy from paying off the last college bill. Regardless of the circumstances, parents go through a wide spectrum of emotions during this season. It’s a time when parenting responsibilities change. They mostly lessen, but they don’t ever go away, which may leave a parent feeling lost or energized, depending on the day.

This period of parenting when children are leaving or coming back home requires a lot of finesse. Parents have to balance their children’s desire for independence while maintaining some trace of parenting. Children come home from college after they’ve basically answered to no one for nearly nine months. Do they need a curfew while they’re home for the summer? They’ve done their own laundry, so should they be dumping clothes in the laundry room for you to do? They’re going off to college for the first time next fall, so should the “no curfew” rule apply during the summer before they leave so that they can get used to it?

I’m not going to give you the answers for those questions because my opinion on these subjects would only fit for my children. My point is to help you see that even when the tooth fairy is long gone and monsters no longer reside under the beds, your children will still need you. It will just be in a different way and on a different level. If you are willing to adjust your parenting appropriately, you will have a better chance of winning at home.