On a recent early morning, my nine-year-old daughter emerged from her bedroom, wearing that look I’ve come to recognize as either meaning, “I have covered the entire bedroom in pink glitter and you will love it” or “I have discovered the hard way that the cat doesn’t like swimming.” The truth was closer to the latter than the former.
My eldest held up a sheet of paper and proclaimed, “There is no such thing as the Tooth Fairy, and now I have proof.”
The paper was crumpled slightly and folded in half. I opened it and saw that it was a note to the Tooth Fairy (poorly spelled, I may add, and I only add this because I’m a writer, and the fact that my kid can’t spell bugs the absolute shit out of me, and this makes me a Bad Human, and I know this, and I’ll do something about it eventually, so…yeah).
“Honey,” I said, striking an emotionally-neutral tone. “I didn’t know you lost a tooth.”
“Exactly!” she cried. “I didn’t tell you on purpose. So I put the tooth under my pillow last night with this letter to the Tooth Fairy, and I’m like, ‘If you really exist, you’ll take the tooth, leave me ten dollars, and sign your name on the document.'”
Ten dollars? WTF, kid?
”I see,” I said. “I see” is the ultimate response of parental ambiguity. It roughly translates to, “I don’t see at all and I need more data before I say something that completely screws up your life.”
She took the letter from my hands, folded it up about eight times and stuck it in her unicorn jammies. “If there really was a Tooth Fairy, she would have known I lost a tooth. She would have signed the paper. But you’ve been the Tooth Fairy all along, haven’t you, dad?”
Listen, everyone says they want their kids to be smart, but take it from me, stupid kids = easy parenting. I topped off my coffee, hoping the magic elixer would bestow me with brilliant revelations. It didn’t, so I defaulted to Psychology 101.
“How do you feel about that?” I asked.
“Meh, it’s ok.” She reached for the box of Lucky Charms. “I was beginning to suspect it was you with that last note you left.”
The last note asked the Tooth Fairy what she did with all the teeth she collected. I responded with a five-page short story that involved Fairy Armies, The Bone Demon and The Magical Dust of The Great Oral Cavity. She found it wildly entertaining, but I may as well have answered her note with, “Yeah, you got me, it’s dad.”
“So, let’s talk about Santa Claus,” my daughter said, pouring enough milk into her cereal bowl to feed most of the Sudan.
Oh, God, no…not Santa Claus, I thought. Time to call it on my girl’s innocence. Time of death, 6:47AM Tuesday.
“All these Santa Clauses you see at the mall? They’re not the real Santa.” She stared intently at her bowl, separating out all the pure-glucose marshmallow pieces from the quasi-healthy other bits with OCD-caliber accuracy. “But here’s how I see it. All those Santas are elves from the North Pole who grew up, and now they work for the real Santa down here. You start out as an Elf On The Shelf, then you become a real elf, then you become a mall Santa. Then you die.”
“I think you nailed it, honey.” Granted, it was a rather Goth ending to an otherwise epic rationalization of the Santa myth, but I totally bought into it, especially since it meant we didn’t have to kill off Santa Claus before my first cup of coffee.
The truth is, She Who Would One Day Take Over The World was simply not ready to give up on Santa Claus, despite the overwhelming cognitive dissonance to the contrary. So she bent the story into as many crazy angles as necessary to make it work. We do this all the time, to make sense of things like Michael Jackson or chardonnays called Butter. Should I have corrected her – just come clean with the myth-busting truth? No. The Tween Years are coming, and with them the time when everything I say and do will be Officially Ignored.
So, go ahead, my little princess. Believe what you need to. It’s what grown-ups do.
Having your belief system tested to the hilt pairs with: The 2018 Passaggio Tempranillo Rose. Passaggio Wines is the epitome of “small batch” winemaking. In a world full of trillion-case, corporate pink wine, each year winemaker Cindy Cosco creates only 1,700 cases of this bright, luscious rosé. Cindy dedicated this label to her mom, who “always saw the world through rose colored glasses.” I like this mom already.