Once Your Child Stops Believing In The Tooth Fairy, The World Is All Lies
My child turned a pretty significant corner this summer after losing her sixth tooth; she officially knows that the tooth fairy is bullshit. Now she wants to know what else I’ve lied to her about.
My daughter is almost eight, so I knew this day was coming soon, but I still wasn’t totally prepared. She lost the tooth, which she stuck under her pillow in exchange for some cold, hard cash, which she got. The next morning, here’s the conversation we had:
“Mommy, if you were the tooth fairy, where would you put my teeth?”
“I suppose I would make a huge castle out of discarded incisors, why?”
“No I mean if you were actually the tooth fairy.”
“I would actually build some sweet turrets.”
“But where would you put them?”
“Mom, I know my tooth is in that box over there. I know there’s no such thing as the tooth fairy.”
Holy wow. Okay. She went on to tearfully explain that she’s known for awhile that there’s no such thing as a tooth fairy, because fairies are fantasy creatures. She confessed that she figured it out the last time she lost a tooth and was crying because she felt bad that she
grifted accepted money from me and her dad.
I told her it was no bigs, the tooth fairy might not be real but the idea of celebrating milestones like lost teeth is totally legit, and as long as she promised not to spill the beans at school, there was plenty more hush money where that came from.
Great. Done. Little to no trauma incurred. Until the next day.
This was when she, while following the breadcrumbs, realized that there was no Santa Claus either. I was kind of hoping she wouldn’t piece it together until December but she did, and so we had to talk about it. She told me to think about it, even with time zones to consider, there was no way Santa was dropping down every chimney in one night.
I congratulated her on figuring it out, repeated the sentiment that the idea behind Santa Claus is for real, and that she had to let her friends come to their own conclusions about the big guy. But this time she wasn’t about to let it go.
Now she wants to know what else I’ve lied to her about. Not in like a traumatized, everything you’ve ever told me is suspect kind of way, but in a wink, wink, nudge, nudge sort of vein.
“You have to brush your teeth or you’ll get cavities.”
“Really, mom? Or are you just saying that?”
It’s the same with getting to bed on time, practicing her handwriting, putting a bicycle helmet on, et cetera, et cetera, world without end, amen. I honestly don’t think she’s playing me, she’s just a little jaded all of a sudden. It’s not like these are things she balks at doing, it’s just that she now questions the legitimacy of them.
Every little thing could be a ploy on my part, a sneaky, fantastical way of getting her to do what I want her to do. She’s been reading up on cavities to try and poke holes in that story, asking an awful lot about why we need sleep to function. I’m pleased that she exercises a healthy degree of skepticism, but my hair is also coming out in thick chunks from the stress of it.
I’d like to state for the record that I always felt a little weird perpetuating the whole magical creatures thing, but I did it anyway because of the magic of childhood and all that. I’d do it again, honestly, because it was fun while it lasted.
Now I just have to think of a way to convince her that yes, humans really do need the occasional shower, no kidding, promise. No, seriously. Go take a shower.