Used as I am to going through life expressing unsolicited opinions at the drop of a hat and invariably trying to come up with answers, I was suddenly stumped by a 5-year-old.

The little jumping bean sitting next to me at dinner, a mass of honey colored hair loosely tied in a pony tail, was showing me her pebble sized teeth about to come off. “Do you know about the tooth fairy?” I inquired, digging deep into the recesses of my childhood memories.

She did. And then, after a short pause, she wisely asked “But what does the tooth fairy need all those teeth for?”.

Excellent question for which I could only offer a lame “Maybe she makes necklaces”.

Undaunted, and still perplexed, the little girl jumped on the bandwagon of relentless bargaining that, still unknown to her parents, will continue for decades to come.

“But if I want my teeth back, can I have them?”

“Well, I guess if you return the money, she might be convinced to return your teeth” this practiced negotiator offered.

To stave off her inquisitive mind, I pulled out my i-phone to show her photos of my dogs and she deftly scrolled and handled the gadget like a pro.

Without going into the lame observation that children, nowadays, are smarter, I did leave the dinner with the impression that they are subjected to such intense and relentless stimuli on a regular basis to be, understandably, precocious compared to my 5-year-old self who would have swallowed any old fairy story, questions unasked.

I am hoping the inquisitiveness and the twisted thinking of this 5-year-old will not be snuffed out by norms, rote education or a plain willingness to conform and that, 20 years from now,  it will be applied to bigger questions. It comforts me to think there is hope.

In the meantime, I am turning to Google – I am sure they do know what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth.


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