Archive for February, 2007
In my house, it is usually up to me to carry out the details of playing Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. And I’ve done a pretty good job of it through the years with my three sons – ages 15, 12, and 6. Up until last week, I’d forgotten to play ‘tooth fairy’ during the night only once. That was years ago when my middle son lost a tooth, and when he woke up the next morning and saw the tooth fairy hadn’t come, I had to think fast to salvage his belief in the tooth fairy. I told him maybe the money fell on the floor or got lost in his sheets while he was sleeping. As we were searching for the money, I sneakily placed a few dollar bills in a crevice between the wall and his pillow. Eureka! He found the money and all was okay again in my son’s childhood.
Then last week, my 6-year-old, Jason, lost his third tooth. He is so snaggle-toothed he looks more like a little old man who has lost his dentures instead of a little boy. The next morning — a Saturday — I was lying in bed trying to steal a couple of minutes of rest — when I heard Jason get up and go downstairs where my husband was having breakfast. I heard their voices drone on as I tried to drift back to sleep. Then I heard Jason exclaim excitedly as he remembered, “My tooth!” His footsteps hurried down the hall as my eyes flew open wide, suddenly realizing I hadn’t played Tooth Fairy during the night. I was so drowsy I completely forgot about the solution I came up with my older son years earlier in putting the money in the sheets.
As Jason bounded up the stairs, closer to his room, I jumped out of bed, ran around the corner and met him halfway up the stairs. I grabbed his arm and said, “Jason, wait a second,” as my mind tried to come up with a plan. I leaned over and looked closely at his right eye, which is prone to allergies. “Your eye looks red, sweetheart,’ I told him. “Let me see it.” I took a closer look as he tried to pull away from me.
“Mom, my tooth!” he yelled.
“I know, I know,” I replied, pulling him down the stairs toward the kitchen. “Let me get the eye drops from the cabinet.”
“Mom!” he protested. By this time, my husband, Kevin, had figured out that the tooth fairy indeed had been neglectful of her duties the previous night and so he went into the other side of the kitchen near the stand where he keeps his wallet. I pulled Jason over near the stand, that was just around the corner from us. I stuck my right arm around the corner where Kevin stood, while I distracted Jason again by looking closely at his eye. But he was by that time, pulling away from me because he really wanted to go upstairs. Just as I felt Kevin put the dollars in my outstretched hand, Jason broke away and sprinted up the stairs with me in hot pursuit a few steps behind.
As we rounded the banister, I gained a few steps on him. “I want to see the tooth fairy surprise first,” he shouted, probably wondering what had happened to his rational mom and how she suddenly became a track star. “You will,” I yelled, “I’m just coming, too.” We both flew up the stairs, down the hallway and into his room. He was a split second behind me. As I raced toward his bed, it was like we were in slow motion, like one of those slow motion replays of two opposing football players looking in the air as the football spiraled down toward them, their hands outstretched, the outcome in doubt until the last possible second. I lunged toward the bed, raising up the pillow at the same time. I dropped the money, and the pillow fell back down, just as Jason came up from behind me, sticking his hand under the pillow. He smiled, pulled the money out, and said, “Got it.” Such precision. A thing of beauty. I felt like I’d just made a touchdown. Yet, I didn’t know if my athletic actions had been so quick that Jason had not seen my fast slight of hand when I slid the money under the pillow or if he was simply choosing to ignore the fact he’d just seen the real tooth fairy in action.
We both sat there on his bedroom floor, a little out of breath. “So what do you think?” I asked, giving him a chance to let me know he’d seen the whole thing. I prepared myself for my ‘truth about the tooth fairy’ speech. “About what?” he asked. Hmm. Maybe I’d pulled it off after all.
“Was anything weird about finding that money?”
“Nope,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Are you disappointed about . . . anything?” I asked.
He looked at me like he thought I was really strange. “No.” Then he took the crumpled money out of his hand and I saw it was a ten dollar bill. Ten dollars?? We’d never given ten bucks for a tooth! I guess that was all Kevin could find in his wallet on such short notice.
“Wow, it’s a ten!” Jason said in awe.
“Yeah,” I asked, still probing to make sure he hadn’t seen anything. “Why do you think the tooth fairy gave you ten dollars?”
He thought for a moment and then said, “I guess she thought it was a really good tooth.” Then he started playing video games.
So I assumed my child was oblivious to my morning’s plight of the tooth fairy. But I won’t be surprised if one day when he’s a teenager he says, “Mom remember that time you raced me upstairs to see what the tooth fairy brought . . . I knew what you did.” Yet, if he doesn’t bring it up now, I’m not going to, either. Now all I have to do is figure out how to explain to him he won’t get $10 for any more of his teeth.
What lengths moms will go to for their children . . .