Yesterday H lost his first tooth. A couple of weeks ago we noticed that his bottom two teeth were really starting to wiggle, and as to be expected, he decided to get extra worried about this. What if he swallowed it, what if it hurt.
After much cajoling and some bribery he agreed to let his father yoink it out. We all did a happy dance and started talking about what the tooth fairy might bring.
Stay with me, because here’s where the story gets good.
Last year I was standing on line in some bakery and overheard two moms talking about the tooth fairy and what perfect sense it made to leave $20 from the tooth fairy. I swear I almost choked on my tea. TWENTY DOLLARS! PER TOOTH? But, but kids have a lot of teeth. And what if you have more than one kid. And what on earth are you teaching them about life if the freakin tooth fairy leaves 20 bucks every time a tooth falls out. What the hell does Santa bring to your house?
I was incredulous.
I went back to my normal middle class mommy friends and told this story and they all seemed to back me up. There was consensus that if you could find a fancy two dollar bill, that was good for the first tooth and most everyone said they left one of those $1 Sacajawea coins for the following teeth. I could get behind that. I mean, I got a quarter per tooth when I was a kid, but that was the 80’s, so with inflation, a buck sounded reasonable.
So okay, we’re in London, I went and found a toonie (the British…) and last night we sat down to write a letter to the tooth fairy, because, y’know, writing.
And as he’s writing, H looks over to me and asks, is the tooth fairy even real. I said, what do you mean is the tooth fairy real? And he told me that this kid in his first grade class told everyone that it’s just your mom and dad who take the tooth and put the money under your pillow.
That f-ing kid.
This is the same kid who had to write and send home multiple apology letters to my kid for hitting and shoving him in class.
I said, well, maybe that’s why that kid is so horrible, because he doesn’t believe in fairies. Do you believe in fairies? And H and his brother both looked at me earnestly and nodded their heads yes. And now, I said, we all have to clap our hands extra hard so that no more fairies lose their wings from this conversation. And we all clapped and clapped and clapped.
All while I was thinking, I just bold face lied to my kid.
But did I really? There’s so much internet noise about whether we’re harming our kids by preserving the magic of childhood. About how our kids live these idealistic lives and that makes them grow up soft and entitled and that kids in Syria don’t worry about the tooth fairy coming. That kids need to know the truth about the world.
I know that when I think about what I want my kids to remember about their childhood it’s that there was love and that there was magic. That there was a time when they wholeheartedly believed in fairies. We don’t have back yards or forests to run around, no magical little creeks for them to romp around in all day and build magical little forts. We have to seek out our magical spots and when we do it’s only for a visit.
So if our daily dose of magic comes in the form of visiting fairies, who take the children’s baby teeth home so they can line their sidewalks with them (which is so gross) then that’s it. That’s what I can offer. And I’ll hold on to keeping that real for as long as I can. Because, yes, as everyone says, there will come a time soon enough when they’ll know the truth. And when they’ll stop believing in fairies. And when they’ll stop crawling into my bed for snuggles. And boo hoo hoo, kids grow up.
But y’know what.
The best grown up people I know, they still believe the world holds a little bit of magic in it. And as I watch my kids grow with their minds and bodies expanding, ultimately what I want for them is to be the best grown up people I know.
Last night I’m tucking the boys into bed and I start to put the tooth and letter under H’s pillow he says, I’m kind of scared of all these creatures that sneak into our apartment at night while we’re sleeping and leave things. He went on, and if it’s so easy for these guys, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa to get in, then what’s to stop the bad guys from coming in.
Um. I said. That was the best I could come up with. Um…well, like what bad guys? There are no bad guys who are coming in. And um, go to sleep.
But mom, he said.
I’ll tell you what. I’ll close your window and leave my window open and a note for the tooth fairy so she know’s where to find you and that way if any bad fairies try to sneak in, then they’ll have to get through me and that won’t happen because bad fairies are afraid of me because I’ll fry them up and serve them to the tadpoles. I’ll put that in the note too.
And that seemed to work because he went to sleep and woke up this morning extra early, bounded in to our room with his two pound coin clutched tightly in his hand wondering what on earth he would buy with all this money at Pound World and crawled into my bed for an extra long snuggle.
And when I’m old and gray, that’s what I want to remember about this brief time of my life when I had little kids.
Magic and snuggles.