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Pinterest anxiety: A Tooth Fairy tale

By Bunmi Laditan, Special to CNN
July 26, 2013 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
A lost tooth can induce panic in parents convinced they have to live up to the Pinterest version of real life. Mom of three Bunmi Laditan found herself caught in the fantasy loop -- click through to see her last-minute creations. A lost tooth can induce panic in parents convinced they have to live up to the Pinterest version of real life. Mom of three Bunmi Laditan found herself caught in the fantasy loop -- click through to see her last-minute creations.
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Hard evidence: The Tooth Fairy was here
Hard evidence: The Tooth Fairy was here
Hard evidence: The Tooth Fairy was here
Hard evidence: The Tooth Fairy was here
Hard evidence: The Tooth Fairy was here
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Honest Toddler's Bunmi Laditan says Pinterest has created unrealistic expectations
  • She managed to avoid the holiday Pinterest craze but succumbed with the Tooth Fairy
  • In a blast of creativity, Laditan decorated her kids' room with snacks and glitter
  • She says the kids' reaction made the effort worthwhile but set a high bar

(CNN) -- When Pinterest exploded onto the scene, enthusiasts could barely contain their excitement over pages upon pages of pastel, lace-trimmed, sugar-sprinkled DIY deliciousness. It was the manifestation of our collective consciousness of intended crafts. We spent hours pinning, as if the action itself were a legitimate replacement for actual creation.

Who doesn't want to know how to make Skittles-infused vodka ("Vomit the rainbow") or create an anytime jersey dress out of an oversized T-shirt? Again, we weren't exactly creating most of these items, but knowing they were safely tucked away within meticulously organized virtual boards was enough to make us feel like creative maestros.

For parents, Pinterest took things to a whole ... 'nother ... level. One could pass days falling down the rabbit hole of ideas spanning every milestone of child rearing. From the time-lapse pregnancy photo montage to gender-reveal cupcakes to lunchbox hand-pies shaped like baby octopi, Pinterest left no familial event untouched.

Suddenly, a rumbling in the distance. An overwhelming tide began to rise. It's not that these ideas were overly complicated. There were just so many of them. All demanding attention, crying out for a voyage to the craft store, begging to be manifested into fruition.

What's wrong with using tech to distract kids?

Bunmi Laditan
Bunmi Laditan

Initially, I'd managed to stay on the shore and watch Pinthusiasts sink or swim from a distance. Pinterest didn't infect me during any of the traditional gateway holidays like Christmas or Halloween (did you know both of these holidays now require wreaths?). It got me with the Tooth Fairy.

When I was kid, the Tooth Fairy, if the wench remembered to come all, would leave a quarter. Maybe 50 cents if she was having a good year. A 2012 survey reported that American parents give their children $3 per tooth, so even considering 20 years of inflation, my fairy was obviously from the wrong side of the tracks. When I was a child, my mom was studying to become a dentist. Maybe to her, the idea of celebrating calcified structures separating from mouth tissue seemed like overkill.

These days, a quick "Tooth Fairy" search on Pinterest will result in thousands of ways to turn what should be a very simple transaction into an event worthy of a Disney score. I'm not sure what it is about this specific milestone that had me feeling all romantic, but I knew Pinterest would be the place to go for inspiration.

By the time my oldest daughter's first tooth was threatening to wriggle free, I'd hyped up the Tooth Fairy significantly.

"What do you think she'll bring? I hope it's not money. I don't like money," she said as I pulled her comforter to her chin.

"Me too?" my 3-year-old worriedly asked from her bed across the room.

"I'm not sure what she's going to bring. And she never forgets little sisters," I explained.

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Eventually, the tooth fell out during breakfast. Unfortunately, as the day went on, the business of life combined with my chronic tendency to procrastinate proved more powerful than the Pinterest-derived Tooth Fairy extravaganza I'd planned. I didn't remember the Fairy's scheduled visit until I woke up with a massive start at 2 a.m. the next day.

I'd dropped the ball.

My mind started to race with ideas. Perhaps the gas station around the corner had candy ... wait no, the Tooth Fairy wouldn't give candy; that'd be like a doctor handing out Big Macs. And do I really want to get on the road at 2 a.m. when the bars are closing? What if there are drunken drivers? I don't want to go down as the first Pinterest-related death.

I began opening every closet in my home, searching the pantry for something that I could pass off as a gift from an enchanted forest warehouse. I found a few mini candy canes, but no, the tooth fairy would clearly be non-denominational. Maybe I could make sandwiches shaped like hearts and keep them in the fridge -- no, the present is supposed to be under their pillow. Shaved turkey slices on whole wheat have no place in a child's bedding; even I know that.

I finally found some snack mix that I was sure my kids hadn't seen before. Combined with a few chocolate chips ... that's something the Tooth Fairy would whip together in her Middle-Earth kitchen, right? As I prepared the melange and dumped it into sandwich bags, I got a distinct mental picture of a jury of Pinterest moms in cardigans shaking their heads at me while knitting stuffed animals.

"Groceries? Really?" their leader said. She was wearing a T-shirt dress. It looked amazing on her.

I glanced down sheepishly at my work. The bags looked like something you'd sneak into a movie theater to save $5. Not magical enough.

I closed the bags with craft twine and finished the whole debacle with wrapping paper.

What about a note? There are hundreds of pins featuring little notes written with what I can only assume are calligraphy pens. People even make matching miniature envelopes. It was almost 2:30. No time for that.

After I'd dropped the packages, being careful not to wake the children (how would that go? "Oh I was just seeing the Tooth Fairy out ..."), I still felt uneasy. You're only a kid once. It's fun to believe in this nonsense. I decided to take it up a notch by sprinkling some pink glitter by their bedsides and made a trail all the way to the upstairs bathroom window. No, I hadn't been drinking or using recreational drugs. It just felt right at the time.

By now, I was so tired that I was having a semi-out-of-body experience and felt like I really was the Tooth Fairy. Glitter clean-up? I'd have one of the lesser fairies take care of it the next day. It will be good for their résumés.

About 3 a.m., I remembered seeing a website where you can superimpose pictures of a fairy on a photo of your sleeping child. Knowing that nothing would traumatize my youngest daughter more than a visual of an otherworldly creature walking on her face while she lay unconscious, I took a photo of a windowsill upstairs instead. For the low price of $7, I added what looked like a crouching Barbie doll wearing a cheap prom dress and wings. As I lay in bed, I created an elaborate backstory of how I'd managed to take the photo with my iPhone right before she spit in my face for scaring her.

Come morning, the children were as excited as could be to find their plastic food bags beside their beds.

"There is fairy dust everywhere!" they shouted from upstairs.

The photo was the icing on the cake.

I'm still trying to decide what the Tooth Fairy will bring the next time she pays a visit. Maybe a gift card.

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