Are you listening?
Most of us parents have at one time or another put on a costume, rang some bells, or slipped coins beneath pillows as little ones slept with visions of Tooth Fairies dancing in their heads. Moms and Dads are the most versatile of actors and “hat wearers” for that discerning audience we call our children. It just so happens — a couple of decades ago, I had three of them at home and to one of them the Tooth Fairy is as real today as she was back then.
I awoke really early one morning about 18 years ago and realized I’d forgotten to play “Tooth Fairy” the night before. Quietly, but quickly I went down the hall to her room listening carefully along the way in case she was awake and praying she wasn’t. Although she was getting older, she was still young enough to not have her Tooth Fairy dreams dashed so I really needed to come through. The hallway was clear, it was still mostly dark. I could feel the tension building up inside me certain one of the kids would pop up any second and switch on the hall light to expose me for the Fairy fraud I was.
I made it to her door and when I peeked in she was still sleeping so I gingerly fished beneath her pillow for the tooth. I slid my hand under the entire thing and the tooth was not there. I lightly patted around her on the bed, still no luck. I just couldn’t find it in the dark without waking her so I left some money, leaving a little more than I usually would. I felt guilty for forgetting and for not finding the tooth and having to leave that evidence behind. I was hoping that if I couldn’t find the tooth, she wouldn’t find it either and all would be ok. She would go on believing for at least one more tooth. Right?
Wrong. So here’s what happened next…
After leaving the money under her pillow I slipped back into my own bed and waited out the minutes before morning alarms would go off. I fought the urge to go look for the tooth again, but I knew I was lucky the first time and probably wouldn’t be so lucky a second time. I had to take my chances and cross my fingers and either way, there wasn’t much I could do to change the situation at this point. I wasn’t ready for my little girl to stop believing in magical things, but all I could do was wait and see what happens. So I waited.
A little later that morning the kids got up to start their day and get ready for school. The oldest seemed particularly happy with her score from the Tooth Fairy. I beamed. Whew, the morning was off to a good start. Or, so I thought until a second later the toothless wonder holds out her hand offering me her tooth, obviously the one I couldn’t find. I looked at her blankly, took the tooth and asked her where she got it and who’s she thought it was, playing dumb you know?
“It was in my bed, but the Tooth Fairy couldn’t get it because I woke up. I think I scared her, but she will come back tonight to get it. She left me the money for it so she has to, but Mooom she’s reallllllly really old! I saw her! She had crazy hair and she was walking like this …” as she proceeded to demonstrate a shuffling hunchbacked walk.
I didn’t know whether to bust out laughing or to break down crying! It was hilarious, but come on I didn’t look that bad! Did I? Bed head maybe, but I certainly never walked like she described, not even now nearly twenty years later.
My daughter is a twenty-four year old adult now and a new Mommy to a beautiful baby boy. She will start her own traditions and maybe create a few of her own mythical “present bearers” for her little boy to cherish as he grows, unfortunately I don’t know what she’s going to do about the Tooth Fairy situation since to this day she still kinda thinks the Tooth Fairy is real. She still swears she saw her and swears that it wasn’t me. It times like these I just want to say “LOL” because imagine her surprise the first time her kid loses a tooth and her friend doesn’t show up with some cash? LOL! OK, yes I said it.
The truth is my daughter is sheepishly adamant that she saw the Tooth Fairy. In hindsight, I have wondered if maybe someone was trying to rob us that night and whether I interrupted them, or maybe we had a ghost, I don’t know. Either way, my daughter never stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy – even if I have to go down in family history as the shuffling hunchback at least that’s one childhood fantasy I didn’t crush too soon. Now let me tell you about the year she busted me playing Santa Claus…