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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Even a pandemic can't stop the Tooth Fairy

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Dear Tooth Fairy,

I would greatly appreciate it if you stopped needing my help.

Love, Mom


As a mom of four girls, the number of times I need to remember the Tooth Fairy is nauseating. I do understand that this is a phase and that I will quickly wish these blissful years back -- however, at the moment I loathe her or him or it; whatever you call the Tooth Fairy works for me. But if I also can speak out of the other side of my mouth, I admire her so deeply.

The loathing part many people can relate to. Feeling my pain as I remember in the morning. Jolting out of bed having forgotten that just a mere 8 hours ago my child lost a physical part of their body. I forgot to place a golden nugget of happiness under their pillow and now I am up s---'s creek. I stare at my spouse, whose complete fault it is that I forgot this, and wonder if there is any way out of this before they wake up. As I go tiptoeing down the hall, my sweet pajama-wearing 6-year-old pops out of nowhere and scares the s--- out of me. After I resume breathing, hide the money in my armpit; I quickly try to conger up a believable lie as to why the Tooth Fairy did not come.

This tailspin of lies only amplifies the loathing because now not only do I have to remember again, but I need to write notes, increase said golden nugget, find some kind of sparkles, sprinkles, glitter or confetti (in my case, cut pieces of construction paper) and set multiple alarms on my phone I may never hear because by the time they go off I'm back in bed and the phone is on the charger across the room, on vibrate. Exhausting!

And don't forget the constant chatter from our children about how the Tooth Fairy forgot and how we're basically sub-par parents who can't get their act together. The wheels totally fall off if we go out in public. The grocery store clerk eyes us judgingly from across the scanner and the neighbor tries unsuccessfully to offer advice or condolences as she lifts her nose just a smidge higher in the air. While simultaneously, another tooth starts to wiggle in that precious sweetness we call our child, and the cycle begins all over again.

On the other hand, the awe and admiration I have for this speck of a fairy that flies unseen through the night filling children's hearts with gleeful excitement is quite something. Who else can be talked about amongst all walks of life and not be ratted out? I want that. I want all my darkest, most sinful secrets kept under wraps from all humans, all the time. Whether you are talking to another adult, an unbelieving teenager, or a wide-eyed kindergartner, her secret is never tarnished nor spoken. And don't get me wrong Santa is right there with her, but he gets a whole season. He walks the malls, graces TV commercials, and movies. He has a very realness about him that glitter pants over there does not. And need I not remind you that she is year-round, unending and stealth in her appearance. She has no racial, sexual orientation, ethnic, or religious affiliation. She doesn't care what color your skin is or how much money is in your bank account. She is not governed by days of the week or months of the year, and sometimes she even makes an appearance while the kids are at school, thus negating all the rules of darkness. She leaves only a trace of her existence and yet holds an unwavering devotion from her followers.

So, what is it about this fictional creature that makes all children beam with pride when they lose a tooth? Per my quick Google search and Wikipedia skim, the tooth fairy has been around for a long time, think Northern Europe c. 1200. So basically, thousands of years and is celebrated in most cultures around the world. Um, can I get this gig that will solidify me into the lives of every child for thousands of years? And who are her PR people, they need a raise!

As I reflect on the Tooth Fairy, I keep spiraling back to our current state of affairs and the whirlwind of the last six months. Where will 2020 be in the Wikipedia pages of 3030? How do the myths and unseen pixies survive? What is the secret? Sure, words like innocence, excitement, childhood, belief, mystery, youth, magic can all be plopped down next to Rainbow Sprinkledust. I think it goes deeper than that. This small creature of the night brings much more to a family's life than just magic and innocence. I believe above all other descriptors; it is HOPE that stands above and beyond the rest.

It is the hope in a child's heart that this tooth won't hurt as it falls out of their mouth, drawing blood and tears. It's the hope in your child that when this tooth magically disappears in the night, a present will be left. It is the parents' hope that their child will still believe in this fantasy even though they are getting older and transforming into an unbelieving child right before their eyes. It's the hope that there can always be something good and pure and innocent in this world. There is the hope that believing in this creature even for a moment, will bring blissful quiet to the constant clanging of the world around us. When we talk openly about the Tooth Fairy, whether it is to express our condolences that she missed your house or rejoice in her remembering, one can't help but smile and relish in the 100% belief that she is real.

Where does that leave us? I guess I hate her a little less now. I will wholeheartedly continue to admire her. Maybe I will find a better remembering solution to make all this forgetfulness my issue and not hers. I will remind myself to pause for a moment to watch my child's elated face as she tells me all about how she "heard the Tooth Fairy under her pillow." I will continue to keep her secret. I will continue to stash dollar bills in my top draw in fear of not having anything to give when the big day comes. Of course, blaming my husband for any mishaps will undoubtedly continue – let's not get carried away here. However, when the deed is done and I drop that little white fang into the trash, I will remember there still is and always will be hope in this world. Hope for something better, something magical, something perfect.

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