Pop singer Pink’s husband Carey Hart recently posted a photo on Instagram of their daughter Willow holding a baby tooth and a $100 bill. But Pink has stressed that the money was not from the tooth fairy. Instead, the cash was a payment from a bet made by her husband daring his daughter to do some light self-dentistry and remove a loose tooth. Nevertheless, the exchange would seem to set a dangerous quid-pro-quo: one tooth for one c-note. It’s indicative of inflation in the traditional tooth exchange that has parents shelling out more and more for baby teeth. And the madness must end, for all of our sakes.
I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way. Hart’s post was littered with comments from parents chagrined by the value of his daughter’s tooth. And the derision feels completely justified because as the proposed value of baby teeth increases, so does the pressure for parents to pony up more money.
One could say, of course, that the tooth exchange represents a completely made-up market, as false as the fairy who acts as its imaginary broker. After all, nobody is forcing parents to give a kid 100 bucks for a tooth. And while that’s true in the literal sense, it completely discounts how practiced children are at a kind of unconscious extortion.
Let’s say, for instance, a child has reasonable parents that give their kid a dollar per tooth, as brokered through the tooth fairy. That kid then goes to school and meets little Jimmy, whos less reasonable parents slipped him a sawbuck. Jimmy, of course, is boastful and proud. Not only because he has a new gap, but because he believes the fairy treasures his teeth more than those of his classmates.
And now, there’s a problem. The child comes home in tears. They whine. They tremble and threaten to never sleep again. “We’ll talk to the tooth fairy,” the parents say. “We’ll leave a note.” Guess how much the kid is getting for their next tooth?
This scenario could happen up to twenty times, once for every lost tooth, over the course of a few years. And this isn’t hyperbole or hysteria. After all, consider the fact that the national average value for a baby tooth is $3.25. That’s a huge increase considering Baby Boomers baby teeth once went for just around .69 cents (or maybe a piece of chocolate or some floss). Regionally, the price can be even higher. New Yorkers, for instance, will drop an average of $13.25 under their kid’s pillow. That’s simply insane.
Parents should come together and adopt the equivalent of a flat tax for all baby teeth. The cost should be a single dollar, across the board for perpetuity — for my kids, for your kids, for Pink’s kid.
Not only does a dollar just feel symbolically more pleasant, kind of like those they frame behind the register at mom and pop stores after the first sale, it’s just easier on everyone. Kids would no longer need to feel envious. Parents would no longer need to feel pressured.
Importantly, giving a dollar doesn’t need to be boring. You can gussy it up with special tooth containers, glitter, or even notes from the tooth fairy. Even the dollar itself can feel grander. In my home, we have a collection of heavy JFK dollar coins that my wife received when she was a kid. We’ll be passing them on to our children as they lose their baby teeth.
What’s cool about the coins is that they feel so substantial and special, particularly as children are exposed to less and less physical cash. A JFK dollar is big and shiny. When flipped, it lands with a thump. It has a certain class and gravitas one might expect from an ancient tooth collecting fairy.
Look, Pink and her husband can do what they want. But at the very least they could do it privately, for all our sakes.