Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
Let’s talk about the ”untruths” we tell our children in the name of “fun” that end up as a source of guilt for us, and leave our kids terrified.
I have read online about parents who do elaborate fairy set ups for the toothfairy, leaving sparkles and tiny footprints and calligraphied notes. Parents who have their christmas elves make all sorts of mischief at night for the kids to wake up and find the next morning. And parents who make elaborate leprechaun traps and then trigger them when the kids aren’t looking, leaving green glitter, pieces of torn green fabric, a tiny handmade leprechaun hat, and green footprints all over the house.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen here. The kids make leprechaun traps, but they look like this:
(and then I have to tell them to leave it outside, because leprechauns never come in your house. Because otherwise I have 3 distressed dumplings sitting frightened at the top of the steps when they should be in bed.)
I am the worst toothfairy ever to walk, or flutter about, the earth.
I am pretty sure that Avery knows there is no toothfairy. I am pretty sure she knows that it’s Mom, failing miserably, at yet another thing. She asked me one time if there was a toothfairy. I just said- uuhhhhhhh… what do you think? She shrugged her shoulders and dropped the subject. I let out the breath I had been holding, mopped my brow, and poured myself a large glass of wine.
A few years ago, Avery was afraid of leprechauns. At school, they would have “leprechauns” come in and mess up the classrooms when the kids weren’t there. I would find her hiding under the kitchen table because she was sure she saw a green hat running around the house. She was so deathly afraid that I said- Avery, I am going to let you in on a little secret. There are no leprechauns.
She looked at me for a beat and said- Yes there are, Mommy.
Uh, no, there aren’t, Avery.
YES THERE ARE!
And she walked away from me and never brought it up again. But… she was never afraid again. I am still scratching my head about this one. She was very convincing. Perhaps there ARE leprechauns…
The question is, why do we put ourselves through all this torture and guilt just to terrify our children and tell them it’s fun?
2 days ago, Avery lost her billionth tooth. She was so excited because this one became wiggly and fell out all within 24 hours. She put it in a ziploc bag (I am not quite sure why, but it wound up being my saving grace) and stuck it in her tooth pillow.
All of this happened at about 7:52am.
Now we get on with our day. Softball, haircuts, a jewelry party, some errands, fan fest at a local minor league baseball stadium, frosting cupcakes, out for a birthday, home by 1am.
Enter Avery the next morning tapping me on the shoulder and holding up her little ziploc bag.
In my sleep stupor-ed state, I said- what is that, Avery?
It was her tooth.
Here’s me… oh, umm, hmmm… are you sure she didn’t come Avery? (Yes. Quick thinking, Adrienne… she is holding her tooth in her hand.)
Well, honey.. put it back under your pillow and maybe she will come tonight.
So she did, and when she wasn’t looking I crept into her room and artfully planted a dollar bill where it could have fallen from under her pillow. When she found it I said, Look at that! She was here, it just fell out of the pillow! Maybe she didn’t take your tooth because she is too little to carry ziploc bags.
She didn’t look too convinced.
That night I remembered to take it.
But, I think it was too little too late because there have just been too many times that the toothfairy was “on vacation” or was “running late” and didn’t make it until after she went to school. EPIC. FAIL.
Sabrina, on the other hand, is afraid of the toothfairy, or any other mythical creature that may or may not enter her room at night.
When you think about the implications of this, can you really blame her?
This was particularly challenging when the girls shared a room. Avery was losing teeth left and right and Sabrina was having bad dreams about night time invaders.
Which brings us to the crux of the matter: Whose idea was the toothfairy anyway? It seems to me to be a pretty random lie. Who took it upon themselves to say- Hey! I have a great idea! Let’s make it so exhausted parents have to remember to collect bloody little bone nuggets from under their kids pillows for posterity, and hope to GOD there is a $1 bill somewhere in the house.
And while we are on the subject, I feel this way about the Easter Bunny too. I mean, it’s a GIANT FREAKING BUNNY! Half the time you can see the zipper on the costume in the back. How do you explain that one? Oh well, kids, you know, when a bunny is that big they have to umm, well when they have to go to the bathroom…uh, so there’s a zipper to you know…
Yeah. I’ve got nothing.
And how about when you take your kids to “breakfast with the bunny” (the one and only time we did this) and your 2 year old is terrified to sit on his lap, and simply gives him a withering stare. Let me reiterate…this is a GIANT BUNNY… with a bowtie, no less. I have to say, people who dress up in giant bunny costumes make me a little nervous too.
(This experience was akin to the ever popular, even obligatory- Santa/Screaming Baby photo. How many of you have those??)
We put ourselves through all kinds of stress and guilt when we don’t remember to take the tooth, or move the elf, or in my case even bring the elf out. Although- full disclosure, this is not so much because I forgot… as it is that I am putting it off as long as I can so I don’t have to endure 2 months of waking in a panic at 3am because I forgot to move it…again… My kids have actually gone over to the neighbor’s house and begged THEIR elf to ask Santa to send OUR elf. Then I get the call from the neighbor threatening me that I better take it out because her son wrote a letter to Santa on our behalf. FINE! I’ll take it out! GAH!
And a lot of the time, like Sabrina, they are scared of the whole idea, anyway. Our elf (Gobble) ”knows” he is not allowed in the bedrooms. Even with Santa, I have to constantly reassure my kids that a large bearded stranger is not going to enter their bedroom while they sleep when he essentially breaks into our home, eats our food and leaves mysterious packages.
Where do we draw the line? We are almost forced into these lies, because if you tell them the truth about one, you fear that the others are not far behind. And if you don’t have an elf, your kids want to know why everyone else does? Or why some kids get $5 a tooth instead of $1.
Ironically, just this morning Avery was quizzing me about why so and so’s elf looks different than ours, or why so and so is allowed to touch his elf when everyone else is not. (Apparently he got some special dispensation from Santa.) Why doesn’t Santa say WE can touch our elf, Mommy? Why. Why. WHY. WHY. WHY???
Avery has taught me that kids will believe what they want to believe, for as long as they want to believe it… even if you tell them the truth outright. So, maybe we should try not to worry so much about our massive fairy failures or our (un)willingness to trash our house for the sake of tiny capped creatures, whether of the North Pole or Irish persuasion.
And by the way… I inspite of all this, I love the holidays. I will be so sad when my kids no longer believe in magic. And, I can get behind Santa. He is at least a person. A portly man who flies around the sky in a sled full of toys pulled by reindeer and only visits Christian kids is a little easier to swallow than a Giant Bunny or a Bone Collector Sprite.