Not the World's Greatest Dad

It’s time I return that World’s Greatest Dad Award.

Yeah, I know, that award is bestowed upon almost every dad on Father’s Day usually in the form of a coffee mug or T-shirt. And for the most part every dad who gets one of those deserves it.

Usually, I do enough to earn it—at least in the eyes of my kids.

But I’m returning my latest award it because I don’t deserve it.

Not by a long shot.

For those who have never received the World’s Greatest Dad Award, you really need to do two things to be worth of it.

First, you need to father offspring. That’s the easy part.

Then you need to do, at the very least, basic dad stuff like throwing a football with your kid, teaching them how to ride a bike, and going camping with them.

Pulling your six-year-old son’s loose tooth. Yeah, that World’s Greatest Dad stuff.

Screwing up the tooth fairy end of things?

Well, that’s why I’m returning the award.

Yesterday I pulled a lose tooth for my six-year-old son right before bedtime. As I tucked him in, he went to bed rubbing that empty spot in his mouth with his tongue, excited that the tooth fairy would be leaving some money under his pillow. I make a mental note to return in a couple hours and make sure the tooth fairy showed up.

Then, well, I kind of forgot to check.

I didn’t realize my mistake until the next morning. I was finishing up a run on the treadmill when the kid walks into the room with a concerned look on his face.

“The tooth fairy didn’t come,” he says dejectedly.

I just about fall off the treadmill.

Before I can say anything he adds, “Maybe it was because of the storm last night. Maybe she couldn’t get here because of the rain and the wind.”

“I think you’re right,” I say between breaths. “She’ll probably come after breakfast.”

I end my run a few minute later and head upstairs to get breakfast ready for the kids. Marathon Girl comes down and in a low voice I tell her that the tooth fairy didn’t come last night.

Marathon Girl gives me the look. Yeah, you know what look I’m talking about. That look. The Fix-it-or -Else look.

I tell her not to worry and I’ll take care of everything. I’m not the World’s Greatest Dad for nothing.

So while the kids are eating I head downstairs and discover that the tooth fairy has indeed left some money and the tooth is gone. In fact it looks like the tooth fairy has slipped in an extra dollar because she was late and caused a six-year-old boy to needlessly worry.

Feeling like I dodged a bullet I head up to our room to shower knowing that by the time I’m done I’ll hear an story about the tooth fairy coming during breakfast.

Only it didn’t quite work out way.

As expected, there the six year old had found that the tooth fairly had arrived and left a little more money than usual. Excitement abounded.

The World’s Greatest Dad knows how to make things right.

Then my son paused and asks, “Why did the tooth fairy leave me a receipt?”

“What receipt?” I say.

“A receipt from a restaurant,” he says. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a long, white piece of paper. “It was stuck between my two dollars.”

I’m speechless.

I turn to Marathon Girl for help. She gives me the You-Really-Screwed-Up Look--the one all husbands get at least twice a year from their wives. It’s followed by the Fix-it-or -Else look that I got a few minutes earlier.

In other words, she’s not going to help me. I’ve got to solve this on my own.

“Oh, she probably stopped and got some breakfast this morning on her way here,” I say as I take the receipt from his fingers and set it on the counter. “But hey, you got an extra dollar. And that’s really cool.”

The Art of Distraction is something the World’s Greatest Dad knows well. It usually works wonders on kids this age.

Not this time.

“I don’t understand why she would leave a receipt,” he says truly mystified.

“Well, maybe it was so you’d know why she was late.”

“Maybe,” he says, but I can tell deep down he’s not buying it.

I hurry and get them ready for school. He doesn’t say anything on the drive over but I can tell the wheels in his head are spinning. He likes to solve problems. That’s the kind of kid he is.

By lunch he'll probably put two and two together and figure it all out.

Meanwhile, I'll take the World’s Greatest Dad trophy down from my shelf. Maybe I’ll put it up next year if I can do enough to earn it back.

And, yes, I still plan on pulling all of my kids teeth when they get really loose but I’m leaving the rest of it to Marathon Girl.

They don’t call her the World’s Greatest Mom for nothing.