On Tuesday night, Jack comes into the bathroom where I’m brushing my teeth. “What are you doing up, young man?” I ask through the toothpaste.

He holds out his hand. “My tooth fell out.” He smiles big to show me the gap.

I spit my toothpaste into the sink. “Awesome,” I say and grin back at him. “Here, dude.” I rinse the sink out and pull the drain stopper up. “Wash it off.”

He rinses it under the water, then goes to tell Doug.

When I come out of the bathroom, Jack is standing at the dining room table, coloring.

“Why aren’t you in bed?”

“Dada told me to color the envelope for the tooth fairy.” When he’s done, he tucks his tooth inside and puts it under his pillow. “I left a bit sticking out. See, Mama?” he says when I come in to kiss him good night. “‘Cause last time she couldn’t reach it when it was all the way under my pillow, and she didn’t leave any money.”

“Very smart,” I say, a bit disconcerted he remembers that.

Wednesday morning, he comes into the dining room where I am feeding the babies. “She didn’t come,” he says.

“Who didn’t come?”

“The tooth fairy.”

“Oh,” I say. How could we forget to put a dollar in his envelope? After we had him color it, too.

“I’m so sorry, sweetie,” I say. “Maybe lots of kids lost teeth last night, and she just couldn’t get here. Maybe she’ll come tonight.”

But she doesn’t.

Jack says nothing about it, so it’s mid-morning on Thursday before I remember that Doug and I forgot to play the tooth fairy again. Jack has a playdate that afternoon, so I decide I’ll slip the money into his envelope while he’s gone.

Only I forget. And I forget that night, too.

I don’t remember until Friday afternoon. Jack’s sitting at the dining room table working on his math. Poor kid. After the big deal we made, too. I feel like such a loser mom.

But bless his heart, he hasn’t said anything since that first morning. I think he knows who the tooth fairy is and he doesn’t want me to feel bad.

I decide I can’t wait for him to go to sleep tonight or I’ll likely forget yet again. I get a dollar and surreptitiously go into his bedroom to put it in his envelope, which is still sitting half-under his pillow.

That night, Jack comes and cuddles with me. “The tooth fairy came today,” he says.

“Really?” I say. “How do you know?”

“Because I looked in my envelope this morning when I woke up and it just had my tooth in it, but tonight when I looked again, there was a dollar. So she came during the day.”

“Well,” I say. “It’s about time. I’m afraid you have a totally lame tooth fairy, young man.”

“She’s not lame!”

Yup, he knows, my little protector.

“She left me a dollar,” he says. “That’s more than your tooth fairy left you.”

“Yeah, your tooth fairy is lame. Mine was cheap. I think we need some better tooth fairies in this family.”

He grins. “I have another one loose,” he says and wiggles one of his front teeth. “I bet she comes sooner this time.”

I wish I could say she did. But that tooth came out three days ago, and the tooth fairy still hasn’t showed. She really is the lamest tooth fairy ever.