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My seven-year-old has the best checkered-board grin around - he's missing four teeth – two on top, two on bottom. With his large permanent adult teeth centering his smile, the holes on each side of them make him look like someone who just played a brutal pick-up game of street hockey sans mouth guard. The best part is that he loves showing it off. He brags to his friends, and frankly anyone who will listen, that he's lost eight teeth. And, he loves to tell them that with each tooth he receives a coveted $2 bill from the tooth fairy.

No matter what your version of the tooth fairy is, the tradition is a rite of passage for every child. Personally, I like to think he looks like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson but others envision a mystical fairy with glittery wings and a pouch full of magic dust. While my son does support the idea of the tooth fairy, and dutifully puts his tooth under his pillow to wake up to mulah, my daughter didn't take to the idea too well! As a 13-year-old, she sadly has no more baby teeth, but when she was losing them, she wouldn't put her teeth under her pillow in her room. The thought of a "stranger," albeit a beautiful fairy with glitz and glitter, coming into her room at night scared her. To alleviate her fears, I bought her a special "tooth fairy pillow" with a pink satin pocket for the tooth, and she placed it on the kitchen table. The magic worked the same – abracadabra – a $2 bill!

Even though the whole idea of the tooth fairy is fantastical and fun for you and your children, it can also create a teaching opportunity. Even with a $2 bill or a quarter, you can use this magically earned money as a way to educate them about real-life financial responsibility. In my article, "Tooth Fairy Finance," on page 10, I interviewed local experts who have many tips for parents and children to explain the concepts of money management.

Also in this issue, you'll find Brian Kantz's Newbie Dad article, "From Russia With Love," on page 14, where he has an interesting perspective about his family's recent visit to Russia. He reminisces about growing up in the Cold War era where Americans feared Russians, and now one generation later, his boys enjoyed a summer playing tourist on Russian soil without any trepidation. Profoundly, he writes about how change can be for the better and we should do what we can to make it so! As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

In Tracie Grimes's Humor at Home article, "The Zen of Yard Work," on page 8, she shares how she has discovered the best way to work out her parenting frustration is through gardening. She says hard-core gardening, especially tasks that constitute wielding a chainsaw, can calm even the most intense parents. Her adage: mad at your kids, weed your flower beds, and you'll be amazed at the peace it brings.

In addition to back-to-school and the beginning of Fall, this September marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93. As Americans, this is a day we will never forget. To show support, stop by Raymond's Trophy, 300 Chester Avenue, on Friday, September 9, and receive a complimentary 9/11 antenna ball. Tyler Hartley of the Bakersfield Fire Department has also written more reflections about that day on page 6.

This month, whether you're celebrating your child's lost tooth, gardening to alleviate your frustrations, or showing your support for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, don't forget that in one generation, change can happen for the better. And, it starts with us!

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