Mystical creatures are big around our house, mainly because I leverage them to blackmail/terrify my kids into good behavior as much as possible. Santa, the Easter bunny, Elf on the Shelf… heck we even had a Stay in Bed Fairy who helped Nick and I finish Mad Men season 6.
The tooth fairy isn’t my favorite, mainly because she’s a lot of work with little to no return. Her appearance isn’t based on merit or behavior of any sort – all you have to do is lose a tooth. You get a sparkly dollar even if you act like a jerk in the grocery store. Well, in theory you get a sparkly dollar if:
A. Nick or I happen to have a dollar (which WE NEVER DO), and
B. I have less than two glasses of wine (see parentheses attached to line item A)
Last week wasn’t the first time the tooth fairy forgot to make a stop at our house, but it was the first time I not only didn’t have a dollar, but didn’t even have couch change enough to scrape together to come close. Hadley lost her tooth right before bed when she was brushing her teeth (it went down the drain and it was crazy… as her letter dictates) and there wasn’t a lot of time to prep.
“Do you have a dollar?” I asked Nick.
“Yeah probably in my car,” he responded. Then we turned on Game of Thrones and fell asleep.
Anyhoo, the next morning Hadley made her way to my bedroom and my stomach dropped when I saw her there, teddy bear clutched to her trembling lips, tears rimming her big round eyes looking directly into my rotten soul.
“The tooth fairy didn’t come,” she sniffled.
It’s moments like this that give that little voice inside my head – you know the one – the one who tells you you’re failing at this parenting thing – a microphone. I flashed back to the night before to when she spent about 30 minutes writing the note to the tooth fairy explaining her tooth was down the drain. Painstakingly sounding out each and every syllable. God what a giant turd I am.
“Because she’s a BITCH, that’s why!” I said, villainizing an innocent fairy to get myself off the hook.
Feigning outrage, I followed her back to her bedroom knowing damn well what I was going to find. An empty tooth pillow filled with images of me in a nursing home changing my own diaper. My mind raced for an answer. The one thing I did know was that I couldn’t send her to school harnessing such disappointment. What if the school was leveled in an earthquake and her last thought was, “Where’s my fucking dollar?”
I needed to tap into my last resort. My last resort being my fantasy world fueled 8-year-old who believes in magic and fairies and leprechauns and of one day growing wings if she wishes on enough stars or finds enough four leaf clovers or blows enough eyelashes off fingertips.
I quietly slipped into the next room. “Ellie? I need to talk to you about something. Ellie? Ellie. ELLIE.” She whirled around from staring out the window, oblivious to the fact she had been flashing the entire neighborhood.
“Sorry – I was wondering if you ate a cloud if you would fart smoke.”
“Okay, put your shirt on. I have to tell you something. Sit down,” I said, knowing I was about to rock her world.
I sat on the bed, patting the spot next to me.
“Mom – I know what you’re going to tell me.”
“You do?” My butt clenched a little. If that was true, ohgod what else did she know?
“Yeah. You know I’m the one eating the toothpaste.”
“No. What? Ack. No. Not that. I have to tell you something that’s a really big deal. And I don’t want you to freak out, okay?”
“Ellie…” I took a deep breath. “The tooth fairy…” Her eyes widened. “Well… well… the tooth fairy is not real,” My words hung in the air as her eyes widened. “Yes… Mommy and Daddy are the tooth fairy.”
“What? Seriously? So Mom how do you…”
“Okay there’s no time for questions now – I’ll get into all of the specific logistics later. Right now I need to talk about how you’re now part of a very important club.” I thought back to a blog post I read once about how to explain to your kids that there’s no Santa – something about being a part of a club. “This club is only for people who know the truth about the tooth fairy. You can’t tell anyone else – not your sisters, or your friends because you’ll ruin the magic, okay?”
“So welcome to the club!” I have her a hug and kissed her on the head. “Now that you’re an official member, the first thing you get to do is run find your piggy bank and get me a dollar.”
So as it turns out, I should have done this years ago. Ellie, my imaginatively brilliant daughter, had this awesome idea to explain the tooth fairy’s neglect was because she had to search down the drain for the tooth and everyone knows fairies can’t fly with wet wings! She even helped me plant the cash and the tooth fairy’s apology in the bathroom while I distracted the little ones.
And don’t worry – that afternoon the tooth fairy got $20 in ones and paid her back… with interest.