Maria lost her second tooth in two days. She pulled and pulled at it in the bathroom while I cringed at the thought in the hallway putting up pictures of when she and Mario were babies. She exclaimed 10 minutes after the start “My tooth is out!” She had pulled out another one, blood and all. She has no fear.
We went through the day hosting family for Father’s Day. When everyone left at 10 pm, she asked where I put her tooth. I had hidden it this time in a plastic bag behind the fridge because two days ago, we put her tooth in a plastic bag that Mario used to store his cheese and crackers. It was only after he had eaten all of the cheese and crackers and thrown the bag away that we realized her tooth was in it. When we pulled the bag out, there it sat next to a tiny remnant of american cheese. Gotta love it. I thought Mario would faint.
She held her tooth and asked me to sit next to her at the table. I sat down expecting her to ask me how much money I thought she would get from the tooth fairy. Instead, the conversation went like this:
“Mom, you gave me money under my pillow and acted like the tooth fairy, didn’t you?”
“No, Ri, I do not put money under your pillow.”
“Mom, tell me the truth.”
“I am telling you the truth, darlin’!”
And then she glares at me and I feel like I am under the control of a lie detection machine. This is the same glare she gave me when asking if St. Nick was real back at Christmas time. The glare got me that time, and I admitted that me and dad were St. Nick. But I refused after that time to ever let her get me again until she was much older. I want her to believe in some things – Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. Why? I guess because I like the thought of her believing in magical things and experiencing wonderment at the notion that she can put a tooth under her pillow and money appears the next morning.
She continues, “Mom, I just have a belief that you give me the money and there is no tooth fairy. I just want the truth.”
Ok, so how many of you would admit at this point that it is you? How many would continue to fib and say it’s the tooth fairy?
I thought back to a book we read a year ago by Jason Alexander called Dad, Are you the Tooth Fairy? We were walking around the used book store and Maria grabbed it off the shelf and asked me to read it. We all plopped down on the floor and I began to read. Much to my amazement, the dad admits that he is the tooth fairy! But, he acts on behalf of all of the fairies and pixies that lived before him because the last fairy on Earth asked him to keep the magic going when she was gone. Or something like that.
I asked Maria if she remembered that book hoping that maybe she’d remember something that would help her process her dilemma. To my surprise, she remembered the book better than I remembered it. She explained to me that the dad was the tooth fairy because there were no more tooth fairies around and they asked him to deliver the money on their behalf. Then she stared me down. What to say now?!
I told her that I was not going to say anymore except that I always believed in magic and good things happening to people who opened up their hearts and imagination. Surprisingly, she listened to me and then simply pondered my response without any retort. When we went up to brush our teeth, she had a final thought for me.
“Mom, I am trying hard to believe in the tooth fairy. One side of my brain keeps telling me there is a tooth fairy but the other side keeps telling me it’s you and dad. I just don’t know what to think.”
Poor girl. She was about to move into cuckoo land if I didn’t tell her the truth. So did I?
Yes and no. I just reaffirmed that she had to believe what she wanted to believe – and have faith that this world was good and magical and full of wonder no matter what. I gave her a big hug and kiss and led her in her room to put on her pj’s. She placed her tooth under her pillow and looked over at me. I stared back at her. She stared back at me. And, neither of us blinked.