Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spoiler Alert

My daughter lost a tooth this week, and put it under her pillow before she went to bed that night.  She wondered aloud how much money she thought the Tooth Fairy would leave her.  I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.  Within five minutes she was asleep, dreaming of a flitting pixie dragging bags of bloody teeth and a wad of cash.

I made a mental note to put on my Tooth Fairy hat before I turned in, and retired to the living room to watch TV.  I woke up the next morning and realized with a sinking feeling that the Tooth Fairy had dropped the ball.

My daughter didn’t say a word that morning, no tearful lament about why the Tooth Fairy shunned her, how she failed at her one duty of trading cash for teeth.

Later that day, my daughter mentioned that the Tooth Fairy didn’t show.  I mumbled something lame, like maybe the Tooth Fairy didn’t see the tooth under the pillow.  My daughter suddenly asked, “Are you the Tooth Fairy?”
Give me a break with this.

For years I have regretted our choice of perpetuating childhood myths and weaving tangled webs of silly lies.  We’ve made fools of our kids, taking advantage of their innocence to tell tales about how Santa, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy exist to make them happy.  It eats at my conscience.  Plus, it’s exhausting.  It’s one of those “I didn’t know it would be this much maintenance” decisions that I question, like coloring my hair, having a pet, buying dry clean only clothing.

This was my moment to come clean about the whole business.  I could at least put the Tooth Fairy to rest.  Maybe even the whole lot.

“What do you think?”

“I think that you are the Tooth Fairy.”  She held her breath.

“You are correct.”

My daughter exhaled, and a huge jack-o-lantern grin lit up her face.  “I knew it.  I knew you were the one.”  She giggled a little.

“Is it okay?”

“Yeah.  It’s okay.”

I said that we taught her about the Tooth Fairy because it’s what parents do - it’s just for fun. 

An hour later, my daughter came to me, her smile gone.

“I wish I didn’t know you are the Tooth Fairy.”

Uh-oh.  “Why?”

“It’s fun to believe.  I like to wake up and find my tooth missing and money under my pillow.”

I told her that I’d put the money under her pillow that very night.  She was okay with this, and seemed to be relieved that even if I knew she knew, that I was willing to continue the fantasy just for the fun of it.

That night, she put the tooth under her pillow again.  We played the game - I made a point to ask her how much money she thought the Tooth Fairy would bring her for the tooth, and that she better get to sleep so the Tooth Fairy could visit.  I tucked her in, kissed her goodnight, and went to watch TV. 

Through this experience, I learned that children do not see childhood myths as lies when they know the truth, that they intuitively feel our love through the myth.  The lies are secondary to the love we give them through Santa, the Tooth Fairy, even the stupidest myth of all, the Easter Bunny.  I also learned that if you’re a slacker like me, when you choose to tell your kids the truth about the Tooth Fairy, you better have hands quick as lightning to lift a tooth and slip cash under a pillow when you drop the ball again.

photo credit

5 comments:

  1. I loved this. You are right, they are not lies, they are tales. It is nicety believe... But as all good things, even this one day comes to an end. And new belief comes along, even bigger, more magical!

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  2. Thank you, Stasha. This topic always worried me about harming my kids' trust. I am relieved to know that their trust goes so much deeper than Santa and the Tooth Fairy!

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  3. Uncle Tyler sez: You're not the Tooth Fairy! Grampy's the Tooth Fairy! At least that's who I saw one night putting money under my pillow for a bloody tooth...

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  4. I have never been a good tooth fairy. Anything involving me thinking/remembering/doing late at night, you can pretty much count me out... I tried at first to cover up my slacker-ness... Now the boys just say things like "Hey, Tooth Fairy...you want me just to hand it to you now so you can get me the money right away?" Yeah, that's how bad I am...

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  5. She did ask me what I do with her teeth. Up until a year ago, I stored them in a baggie. Now I make jewelry out of them. OMG, ha ha, no I don't. :)

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