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Lessons from the ‘Toof’ Fairy

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Thompson
  • Scott afb consolidated command post
I'm sure all the parents out there can relate when I say that children are great at "calling it like they see it." Tact and social-restraint are foreign to a 5-year-old and it doesn't matter who might be within ear shot. As a father, I've experienced moments of sheer terror when my kids loudly point out something embarrassing in a public setting. Still, this candid honesty is one of the traits I admire most in children and between my four little-ones, there is no way I will get away with anything.

I knew I was in trouble when one of my twin 7-year-olds came up to me and said, "Daddy why hasn't the tooth fairy come to get my tooth?" It had been four days since the tooth fell out, and I kept forgetting to fulfill one of my most important additional duties.

The next morning, I got up early and swapped the tooth with some cash and was surprised to see a letter. "Dear Toof Fairy" it read. "Why haven't you come to get my toof? Please write below." Below the message my daughter drew some lines for a response. A couple things came to mind after I stopped feeling ashamed of myself.

First, I was impressed that my daughter had already mastered the read-receipt and was going to hold the tooth fairy accountable. My second thought: this is a great opportunity to teach. So, I quickly wrote a response. "Charli, I am very sorry. I have been sick from collecting too many teeth with cavities. Make sure you brush your teeth and don't eat too much sugar."

Feeling like a better parent after using this opportunity to stress the importance of dental hygiene, I reflected on the importance of balance. We all struggle to manage the demands of the Air Force with demands in our personal lives.

"Service Before Self," our second core value, is more than just putting time in at work. There is an implicit responsibility to take care of all those little things that requires our attention after we hang up the uniform: kid's homework, boo boos, diapers, etc. All these little things add up. The saying, "if mama isn't happy, no one is happy" reminds me that I need a solid foundation at home to keep my focus at work, on work.

Furthermore, we need to make room for our own needs as well. This includes eating the right foods, getting enough exercise and yes, play! However, more often than not we let ourselves get distracted by work minutia and forget about some of these really important things. Just take a look at the "use or lose" leave rosters and see how many Airmen don't take the time away from work that they earn.

Granted, it can be tough to balance our responsibilities in the many roles we fill. Especially considering the finite amount of time we have. With the holiday season approaching, I plan to take some extra time to catch up with my family. However, I need to remember that this is a priority year round. So, when my daughter tells me, "Daddy, I miss you." It's a clear reminder that I need to spend some more time with all my kids. Like I said, children have a special talent to bluntly speak the truth. I'm glad mine are there to remind me of all the little these things that are so important: like brushing your teeth, which my daughter now does eagerly every night.