Lil’bit’s top center-right tooth has been loose for weeks. She won’t mess with it and won’t let me do much of anything to it so I’ve let it be and allowed her to “let it happen naturally.” Finally, this eve, she asked me to pull it out. After a bit of squeamishness, I tried. No dice. She broke down. She wanted to lose it here, with mama. I reminded her the tooth fairy goes to her dad’s house too. That’s when it got bad.
Over about the next 30 minutes she sobbed in my arms. Through the tears, I learned from Lil’bit that the tooth fairy is selfish and doesn’t think of the kids. “She just TAKES their teeth.” I reminded her that her TF leaves her teeth & money & a note. She declared she doesn’t want any of that stuff and the TF is, stupid, dumb, and “probably just crushes all the teeth.” Finally, at the end of a particularly large sob, “The tooth fairy is a punk.”
I broke. I texted her dad, and ended with “I think it’s time.” Then, I broke the news to her. I let her know the reason she has all her teeth is because the fairy is a story that has been passed down from parent to child for hundreds of years. The tooth fairy is each child’s parents.
“But what about the kids that don’t keep their teeth?”
“I don’t know baby, every family is a little different.”
“But what about the note and the pretty writing.” I raised my eyebrows. “We work hard to make it special.”
She SOBBED, “But why do parents LIE to their kids?”
Now I cried a little. I told her the stories are meant to be beautiful, meant to convey joy and excitement about a new experience. She moved away from me, curled up with her stuffed animal, buried her face, “But you lied to me.”
I told her she has every right to be upset and that I was sorry, truly sorry, that I continued the myth, but it’s a strange thing that parents do in our culture. To grown ups, the practice of the TF is a fun, celebratory moment, but it is bizarre to make such a happy moment from something false. She slowly made her way back to where I lay in bed, arms open to her. We curled up together. I smoothed her hair, wiped the tears from her cheeks and murmured, “I promise we only meant good. I will always honestly answer any question you are smart & mature enough to ask. Having your trust is more important than any tooth fairy.”
She looked up at me, “Are you Santa, too?”