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Jewish World Review April 9, 2004 / 19 Nissan, 5764

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

No wisdom in these pearls | Children are special. Agreed. Precious? Absolutely. Little miracles whose every step, baby step, mini baby step and mini baby half-step should be cherished, celebrated, videotaped and commemorated with a keepsake charm bracelet?

Apparently, yes.

At least, that is the idea behind Dreampearls, the brainchild of Julie Kentera, a Phoenix entrepreneur, former schoolteacher and, of course, mom.

Dreampearls are little, attachable freshwater pearls that one is supposed to slip under a child's pillow every time she loses a tooth. Or, at least, every time she loses one of her first 12 baby teeth, because after that, Kentera admits, "the molars are really ugly monsters, with roots and everything."

So hurry, while they're cute.

For only $49.99, you get the pearls with a bracelet to attach them to and a book explaining - at last - just who the Tooth Fairy is and what she is up to.

Which seems to be capitalism.

That is not how Kentera sees it, of course. She thinks the old quarter under the pillow is the cold, mercenary way to go. Losing a tooth "is a milestone that should be honored with something more than money," says she.

Except that for as long as anyone I know can remember, money's been the reward. A buck for some, a dime for others, 10 smackers for the spoiled kids. The Tooth Fairy gives whatever she damn well pleases. And when kids compare notes, they quickly learn: Not everyone has the same fairy.

Which may seem unfair, but is actually great.

The Tooth Fairy is probably the only beloved American icon who has not been shrink-wrapped, licensed to Disney, tapped to sell Coke and given her own cartoon.

What does she look like? We just don't know. Why does she take the teeth? Beats me. What does she do with them?

According to Kentera, she turns them into pearls and gives them back.

I prefer my son's explanation: When a tooth falls out, the fairy under it is released. Grateful but, unfortunately, clueless as to how much video games cost, she leaves a dollar under the pillow.

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I don't want him or any other kid growing up thinking there is one official Tooth Fairy with one official back story, that she gives pearls that go on a trademarked bracelet with a trademarked companion book that is available in boutiques and on the Web.

Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day - they've all been commercialized beyond belief. Can't we leave the Tooth Fairy alone?

And while we're at it: Do we really have to celebrate every bit of calcium that falls from our dear ones' mouths? Next we'll be saving old Band-Aids. "Ooh, remember the first time he fell?"

I believe I love my kids as much as the next mom, but enough is enough.

And so is a buck under the pillow.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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