There are "fibs" parents tell their children in the name of childhood fun...the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and .....the Tooth Fairy. Early on, Todd and I came to some agreements concerning these fables: although we would allow for them in our traditions, we would not push them as the focus of a holiday or event, and we would tell our children the truth as soon as they asked.
I knew the day was coming....our children are bright, inquisitive, thoughtful children. Sarah Jane, especially, absorbs much more than I realize - she's the quiet one who hears all and ponders it quietly when you don't know she's listening. Sarah has lost 5 teeth already. When she loses one, we put it under her pillow and the tooth fairy exchanges it for a dollar while she sleeps. Once, when the girls threatened to stay awake all night so that they could see what she looked like, the Tooth Fairy even left a note with a picture of herself.
But last week, as Sarah played with a tooth hanging from it's last string, she asked the question: "Mom, is the tooth fairy real?"
I looked around for Todd, wanting back-up or affirmation, or a distraction......no luck. "Well", I said, "It sure is fun to think about someone sneaking into your room at night and leaving you money!", not wanting to answer the question and not sure she really wanted to know the truth.
She spent a few minutes thinking aloud about things like, "Well, my teeth really do disappear" and "I think it might be you or daddy, but how could you get under my pillow without me waking up?". Finally, she said, "Mom, tell me the truth. Are you the tooth fairy?" She had said the magic word: truth.
I said, "Your dad and I help the tooth fairy out", not following through on the whole "truth" thing......but as she eased into the idea and didn't seem traumatized, it was easier for me to own up to it. She was processing, "well, what do you do with the teeth?" and "Now I know who drew that picture of the tooth fairy!" Later that night she was saying that losing a tooth wouldn't be a big deal anymore since she knew the truth and didn't even care about the money.....of course, as she thought that over, she reconsidered, and I told her we'd still give her a dollar and she could keep saving for a puppy.
But the sweet "coming of age" story doesn't end there.....
She lost her tooth that night, put it under her pillow, went to sleep, and Todd and I got ready for a late-night meeting at our house.....and the next morning.....you guessed it......Sarah Jane came down the stairs with her head down, tooth in hand, and her eyes full of tears - - we had forgotten to leave the money under her pillow!!!
I am a rotten parent. At least Todd's got that brain tumor excuse, but I had totally forgotten to leave the money.
Luckily, I had years of experience in deceiving my children, so after I apologized for upsetting her, I quickly explained that since she had figured out the truth, it would be boring to just get money under the pillow - that we would hide it somewhere else to make it more exciting!!
She bought it, and pulled a dollar out of her shoe as she got ready for school.
Parenting is not easy. I'm praying God will fix all of our parenting mistakes, and that our girls won't require extensive counseling.