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Creativity, imagination go hand in hand

April 06, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

What I did over spring break is I went to the dentest. At first I was afraid and did not want to go! When I got there they took me to a room, and put me in a big chair! When he was fineshed he gave me two stickers! At night I put my four teeth under my pillow. That night I got 10 dollers under my pillow. That is the story of my spring break!

My 8-year-old's creative writing assignment revealed much:

1. Even though we played games and had friends over during spring break, her trip to the dentist's office was the event that stood out the most.

2. What happened between the time she got in the chair and when she received the stickers was quickly forgotten, probably thanks to the money left under her pillow that night.

3. She is not afraid to use words that she doesn't know how to spell.

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4. When you're unsure what vowel to pick, "e" is a good choice. (Hey, it works on "Wheel of Fortune.")

5. Exclamation points are fun!

At our house, the tooth fairy typically leaves a dollar or two per tooth under our children's pillows, but this time, a higher fee was deserved. Any child who endures having four teeth pulled at one time deserves a little extra.

Plus, the tooth fairy doesn't exactly have the most consistent track record in our home, so we try to make up for it the best we can.

One night a few years ago, when our son expectantly put his tooth under his pillow, we had good intentions of letting the tooth fairy know about his loss. We talked about it before bed, but our son's reading light was still on. My husband sleepily said he'd get up a half hour or so after we saw the reading light turn off. I drowsily agreed, but also suggested that if he forgot, we could take care of it first thing in the morning.

Morning came. Husband went to work. Wife was getting ready for work. Son came downstairs with a crestfallen expression.

I cast a questioning glance in his direction.

"The tooth fairy did not come last night," he said, slumping into a chair.

Uh-oh. We messed up.

"Perhaps she was really busy," was the quickest response I could give.

By the expression on his face, I could tell I would need to do better.

"Why don't you keep your tooth under your pillow and see if she comes tonight?" I tried.

I could tell it wouldn't mean as much.

So now each time our children lose a tooth, they make comments such as, "Well, we'll see how busy the tooth fairy is tonight," or "Will you remember to tell the tooth fairy that I lost a tooth?"

This time, our daughter said, "Tell the tooth fairy to tell her husband that I lost four teeth. I know she's really busy, so maybe he can come."

I think she knows what's really going on, but she plays along just for fun.

Some parents prefer not to introduce their children to the tooth fairy, lumping her in the same category as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

That's their prerogative.

I've always taken the approach that childhood is short, imaginations quickly dim, and parents play a key role in fostering their children's creativity.

Children quickly learn what's really going on and who actually fulfills their wishes - even if they have to wait an additional day to receive their prize.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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