A piece of childhood slips away


The Tooth Fairy has made her last official visit to our home, at least for now.

The Shepherd household being off her visit list at the present time is not because my 9-year-old doesn’t have any baby teeth left, but because I got busted playing the Tooth Fairy the last time there was a tooth under a pillow.

You see, I am a night owl. In past years it has been easy for me to act as the Tooth Fairy’s assistant and see to the gathering of little teeth and the leaving in their place a dollar or two. But since the baby came, I am a bit more distracted and fall asleep too easily in the recliner. When I wake there is no guarantee that I remember all of my in-the-dark-of-night duties.

This was the case about a month ago when my daughter lost one of her teeth at school. She carried it home and placed it in the pillow my mother made for her so many years ago. That pillow went under her pillow, but there were other things there, too, and these other things may have been this Tooth Fairy assistant’s downfall.

There was a necklace she made for the Tooth Fairy and a box of beads should the Tooth Fairy want to make her a necklace. There was a little Tootsie Roll as a treat for the little winged fairy. And there was a small questionnaire asking things like if it was true that my daughter’s friend got $50 for a tooth, and if so, why? There was a pen there as well so the questions could be answered.

I snagged the tooth. I got a hold of the candy treat. I found the necklace. I got my hands on the paper with the questions and the pen to answer them with (I noted for my daughter on that questionnaire that if her friend got $50 for one tooth it was likely a mistake and the Tooth Fairy probably accidentally gave that kid her grocery money). I drew for my daughter a lovely rainbow heart on a card because I know my kid, and her being acknowledged by the Tooth Fairy in that manner would tickle her pink.

But the thing is that the night before I had fallen asleep in the recliner with the baby. When I woke in the wee small hours, I didn’t think about that tooth tucked under my daughter’s pillow, but dragged my weary self to my bed. When I awoke for the day I remembered what needed doing and had precious little time before it was time for her to get up for the day.

I tiptoed into her room and started digging under her pillow. She woke up at one point and I quickly ordered her to move away from the edge of the bed. Sleeping too close to the edge of the bed is a common occurrence for my kiddo, and the order to move away from the edge a common thing, too. I thought that would cover my tracks. So I left the room and gave her a few minutes to get good and asleep again before I returned to finish getting the hidden goods.

I took all that I had found (I did not know about the box of beads at the time) to the kitchen and commenced tucking a couple bucks into the slot on the pillow where her tooth had been. I answered the questions that she had asked. I drew her that pretty heart on a sweet note card. I remembered to tuck the rest of those note cards into my purse so she wouldn’t see them and put two and two together.

I didn’t know that my daughter lay in her bed nearly awake as I tucked everything back under her pillow. And as I did that, I thought that I was in the clear.

It took only a few minutes more for her to come awake and come out into the living room to show me what all had been left for her. I was changing her sister at the time and trying hard to focus on that so as not to give myself away. But the kid was watching me. She remarked with a smile that I was “acting suspicious.” I am a terrible liar, and that little comment made my smile bigger and the behavior she regarded as suspicious likely become more so.

And this oh-so-smart kid of mine remembered the pack of note cards from which I had pulled the one I used. How, I don’t know, because they had sat in a drawer for about a year.

In the end, my kid outed me. I found myself becoming a little teary over that little death of innocence, but she assured me it was OK.

What I want to know is, does this mean I am off the hook now for leaving money for lost teeth, at least for this child?

The whole thing broke my heart some. As I said, it feels like a small death of innocence.

My husband and I never had to have the conversations with the teenager. When he figured things out on his own, he just left it at that.

My 9-year-old has asked me questions about Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny for the last couple years after she had heard things from her non-believing classmates, and somehow we have managed to keep those magical creatures of childhood alive. I figured with the fall of the Tooth Fairy that Santa would be next given the time of year, but I think my smart kid wants to leave that one alone for now so she doesn’t start getting socks under the tree.

Really, the whole thing is a bit of a comedy, her busting me the way that she did. But I want her to understand, when the time comes, that her parents didn’t perpetuate those particular lies to be mean or misleading, but to fortify the magic and wonder of being a child. That slips away too early.

My children are well versed in why we celebrate Christmas, but there is always that part that includes Santa and the belief that a jolly elf really does fly to every home on the planet on Christmas Eve in a reindeer-powered sleigh, and that he comes down chimneys and consumes the treats left on hearths, and that he leaves gifts in his wake. And when you grow up and you understand that the logistics of that are impossible, you come to understand a different sort of magic and Santa and the whole spirit of it all lives on when we play that role with the children in our lives.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

Angela Shepherd Staff columnist
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2016/11/web1_Angela-Shepherd-mug-2.jpgAngela Shepherd Staff columnist

By Angela Shepherd

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