Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tooth Fairy Trouble

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The tooth fairy has been called to our house twice in one week. For the same child, as you can see.

The tooth fairy is normally very predictable in our house. She leaves a dollar, sometimes two for really important teeth, and shows up without fail when a tooth is to be collected. However, she was definitely not at the top of her game this week. Perhaps she is pregnant, too, and has a very bad case of baby brain. Who knows.

For her first visit of the week, imagine how great her surprise must have been when she arrived to find that she did not have any small bills. None. To further complicate the scenario, the tooth pillow that Lindsey uses does not accommodate coin of any kind. What is a fairy to do? After flying madly all over the house at an indecent hour, searching laundry, junk drawers and even the floor of the car in desperation (as I'm sure she must have done), she located a $5 bill.

So great must have been the fairy's relief that she found something smaller than a $20, that she did not fully consider the ramifications of "upping the ante" on the value of teeth in the Di Silvestri household. Foolishly, she replaced the tooth with the $5 and flew off into the night. Good thing she wasn't around to see the reaction of the children the next morning, especially the reaction of an older child who had lost plenty of teeth and never discovered such a booty under his own pillow. This same child, who has saved the last several of his teeth rather than leaving them for the fairy, is suddenly reconsidering the wisdom of this, and may leave 4 or 5 at once, hoping for a tidy profit. Hmmm, troublesome indeed.

The fairy's second call was far worse, nothing short of disastrous. For the first time, perhaps in the whole of tooth history, she did not show up. Can you believe it? How can the tooth fairy not show up at all?! I was awakened by a heartbroken, sobbing daughter whose tooth remained right where she had left it the night before. I can assure you, I felt worse than she did. What kind of world are we living in when the tooth fairy does not show up to a legitimate call?

I began to deal with this terrible situation by swiftly kicking my husband under the covers. I had been out late at choir practice the night before and was not properly informed upon my return home that a tooth had been placed under a pillow. Even as I gave him a death glare, I was aware that at least half of the responsibility was mine. I knew she had lost the tooth earlier in the day; I was just not present at bedtime to be reminded that it went under the pillow. At any rate, while I can't be certain of the nature of the connection, it does seem clear that if a mother is not aware of the status of a tooth under a pillow, the fairy does not come. So, regardless of whose fault it was that mom did not know, she simply did not. And this did not bode well for Lindsey.

I quickly explained to my devastated daughter that the tooth fairy must have been VERY BUSY and simply could not get to her tooth. Since other children had not already lost a tooth earlier in the week as Lindsey had, she had to get theirs first and she simply ran out of nighttime hours to complete her travels. I encouraged Lindsey to leave the tooth again. This pacified her greatly, and that night the fairy returned. With single bills this time. Disaster averted.

The responsibilities of parenthood weigh heavily, do they not? It is not just the big things (like development of character, education and faith formation) that we must concern ourselves with. It is also the little things, the things that make childhood the wonderful, imaginative journey that it should be.

Parenting. It's not for wimps.


Annie Bizzi said...

Sad to say that the "tooth fairy" was completely foiled in our house...at least for the older kids. Lucky for me, I mean her, the younger ones have years of magical fairy business ahead.

Maura said...

This happened to me with Kayla...ugh. I had to scramble for an excuse (the EXACT same one you did). Fortunately, our kids are very forgiving:)

Jen said...

At least you were able to use an excuse. I forgot with Jeffrey and he caught me @ 6am with my hand under his pillow!!

Anonymous said...

That's cute!

There is something I have thought about related to this topic

....how do you feel about overtly lying to your children?

I know it may seem a bit over-the-top, but one can't deny that telling your children that the tooth-fairy/Santa exists actually involves active lying to their face; and it's just something I feel a bit uncomfortable with, and unsure about.

How do you and your husband, as good and admirable Catholics, reconcile that feeling?

Do you just consider that lying about that is not really important?

and if not, why not?

It is still a lie afterall.

God Bless

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

This is, of course, a sticky issue.

I grew up in a family that thoroughly celebrated Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy and I believed completely until the day I figured it all out. I was not sad when I discovered the truth, nor did I think I had been lied to. I understood that it was something that had made my childhood magical and appreciated my family for their role in making it so for me.

My husband grew up playing along with society but never actually believing himself. It was more "wink-wink" in his family, and he was fine with that too. As an adult, he struggles with the "lie" much more than I do as a result, but I can attest that neither of us are scarred by what we did or didn't believe growing up.

You may call this splitting hairs, but I carefully choose my words when speaking to my children on this topic. I speak of these entities knowing full well that they really do exist...because I AM them. A fairy really does come and leave money under the pillow--I know because it is me! Santa really does come and fill the stockings because I am playing that role! Luckily, my kids have never asked me if I am the tooth fairy or Santa. When they do, I will not be able to lie and will have to admit it (or will evade the question, depending on their age). Santa is easier to deal with in general because he really is Saint Nicholas, so we talk about how he is in heaven and how that helps him fulfill his duties.

Sure, if you put it all together in a logical fashion, it doesn't add up. But there really aren't any overt lies.

I do not ever think I am lying. I am make believing, the same way I play along when my 3 year old tells me she just saw a lion in the backyard. I don't say "That's impossible." I say "tell me about it, what kind of lion was it?"

Even given all of this, do I still feel uncomfortable when questioned? Of course. I just don't want the magic to end yet for any of them. I will hold it off as long as I possibly can and then come clean when I must. And hope that the older kids can keep a secret!

I'd be interested in anyone elses comments in this area.

fc said...

Ah yes...the tooth fairy has also slacked off on occasion at our house. Our post office is half a mile up the street and has a lobby that is open 24 hours...the stamp machine dispenses dollar coins as change. :) That's what the tooth fairy leaves at our house, dollar coins. I have sworn that I will get a supply of these for last minute tooth losses, but alas, we have often had to hit the post office at 10pm for emergency tooth fairy booty.

Anonymous said...

I too choose my words carefully when talking about Santa Claus or the Toothfairy or the Easter Bunny. I don't hype them up like, "Oh, go to bed so Santa can come" or "If you're not good, you won't get any presents."

As for the Easter Bunny, I've actually never once said that there is an Easter Bunny. My kids have told me about the Easter Bunny and I've said non-committal things like, "Oh? Really?"

The Toothfairy (who has more than once forgotten to stop here) is also not really hyped up. When she's forgotten to stop here, I've sent emails off to her and gotten responses assuring my children that she was really busy (her email address is toothfairy at toothlandclinic dot com). But she only leaves a quarter!!! Is it lying? I am the Toothfairy. I don't tell tall tales about her and make up a whole history for her. I don't think my kids spend much time thinking about her (except when they have lost a tooth).

Santa is different. He is St. Nicholas, and we talk about St. Nick a lot. Again, I choose my words carefully: I don't talk about the North Pole or elves or Mrs. Claus. We talk about the bishop who left gold for the poor family and loved children. And Santa only fills the stockings at my house. The presents under the tree are from Mom and Dad and other relatives.

There is magic in the world. It is mysterious and miraculous. We don't understand and can't understand everything. To deprive ourselves and our children of the mysticism of the universe by eliminating the possibility of fairies, dragons, elves, and dwarves is to eliminate the hope and wonder that goes with God made man, man conquering death, and the whole communion of saints.