My oldest daughter stepped off the school bus yesterday and happily informed me that the Tooth Fairy would be making a visit.

It's the fifth such visit the Tooth Fairy has made to our house in the last year, and I'm constantly trying to figure out the going rate for a lost tooth these days.

The first time my daughter lost a tooth, I know my wife and I were about as excited as she was. I think we gave her something like $7.86, which is probably $7 more than I received when I was a kid. Since then, it's kind of gone up and down, usually around $5. For this last one, maybe due to all of the tough financial goings-on in the news, my wife slipped $2 under my daughter's pillow. "What can you buy with $2?" asked my six-year-old. "Can you buy a Junie B. Jones book?""No," I said, sighing, because the only thing I could think to answer was: "Well, um, you could buy candy."

How ironic. We're paying just enough that the only thing she can buy is candy, which in theory could make the rest of her teeth come out. I'm thinking that we should start going back to a higher price, so she can buy a book.

In any case, I thought I might be the only one who gets a little obsessive about these things, but nope, as I just learned with a little Googling (hoping to see what typical parents pay for a tooth but never quite figuring that out), there's a web site that parents can go to, if they want to add to the mystique of the Tooth Fairy. It's called ToothFairyCity.com, and it has books about the Tooth Fairy, Tooth Fairy pillows and other neat little items like free printable signs telling your child that the Tooth Fairy was here.

Probably my favorites are the checks that you can download and print out. If you're short of cash, or just feel like doing something different, you can print out a check signed by the Tooth Fairy and make out an amount to your child, and they can later redeem it, as the web site says, at the Bank of Mom and Dad. But I think we all have a little of Scrooge McDuck in all of us, though, and my guess is that most kids would prefer the cold, hard cash. Still, it seems better than writing an I.O.U.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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