“Mom, is the Tooth Fairy real?” she asked expectantly. Her big blue eyes looking up at me like I held all the secrets of the world. This wasn’t the first time she had asked me this question. I’ve been able to tell her exactly what she wanted to hear for all of her 8 years by using the usual Mom tricks. I answer her question with a question. “Do you think the Tooth Fairy is real?” Or “Why do you ask?”
Those usually work and after going through a series of questions she is generally satisfied. I had a feeling this time would be different though. Before she asked me, she sat close to me. Really close. Then she started gently stroking my arm. After she asked she leaned into me and wouldn’t make eye contact.
My husband and I have suspected for some time that she already knows about the Tooth Fairy. We also agreed before ever having children that if our kids ever ask a direct question, we will answer it. I mean, sure, we’ll try all of the avoidance methods first, but if they persist we will answer – honestly.
Have you ever tried drugs? How old were you the first time you had sex? These are both questions that make me cringe just thinking about answering them, but I owe it to my children to be honest with them. Why should I paint myself as something I’m not? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to share my life experience (in moderation, of course)? If they think I was some perfect kid or teen, wouldn’t that make it harder for them to connect with me, particularly at a time when it’s difficult to connect to them anyway?
“Mom, just tell me. Are you the Tooth Fairy?”
After answering with as many questions I could possibly think of, I finally said, “Honey, do you really want to know about this?”
“Yes, Mom, I really do.”
“Yes, your Dad and I are the Tooth Fairy.” I watched her fight back tears as I stole a piece of her childhood. She leaned in real close to me again and hugged me so tight I could barely breathe. Although I’m not sure my lack of breathing ability was because of her grip or the fact that I would never have another child believe in the magic of the Tooth Fairy again since she is our youngest.
I asked if she was upset. “A little,” she responded in a defeated tone I haven’t heard much from her.
I said, “Well, I promised long ago that if you ever asked me a direct question, I would answer it with complete honesty. And you wanted to know so I had to tell you. But, that was a big girl secret. And you know with big girl secrets, you can’t tell anyone else, right? But I’ll tell you another big girl secret that’s kind of funny.”
“What?” she said, not completely sure she even wanted to know as a big fat tear roll down her innocent little cheek.
“I have all the teeth hidden a drawer!”
“What?!” she exclaimed as she was trying to wrap her brain around a drawer full of teeth (actually now that I see that in writing, it does smack a little of a serial killer).
“Yes, we’ve kept all the teeth.”
“You mean mine?”
“Well, you asked if I was the Tooth Fairy. Maybe I am THE Tooth Fairy and I have ALL the teeth in a drawer? Don’t you ever wonder why Mommy is so tired all the time? I barely get any sleep what with all this Tooth Fairy business.” She smiled slyly, liking where I was going with this.
“Yeah, you are THE Tooth Fairy!”
We smiled at each other and I hugged her tight. She said, “Well I know one thing. I will never, ever ask you about Santa.”
*Originally written for and published by The Well Written Woman.