The Master Manipulator
In the past week, my 6-year-old has lost 4 teeth. She has trouble eating, and I just can’t help snapping a million pictures of her toothless smile and video taping her talk. I asked her what her classmates think of her new smile and she said “No one in my clath hath teeth.” The poor thing. 1st grade is rough.
The other night, I reached under her pillow to swap a tooth for a dollar and I found a note written on an index card that read: “This stuff is for you the tooth fairy. I love you. Love, Leli.” And, as if it couldn’t get any cuter, she drew an arrow at the bottom and wrote “Write back.” Her tooth was sitting in the middle of a bracelet with a toy flower, a button, and a bead. I melted. I took all of the gifts and wrote on the back of the card in swirly letters, “Thank you, Leli. You are so special and I love you.”
It seemed like the only thing to do, but when she woke up in the morning, ecstatic and dreamy eyed, I felt pretty guilty. She said, “If I knew what size the tooth fairy wore, I’d make her the prettiest little dress,” and I thought, What am I going to do when she finds out the truth?
What am I really doing when I forge a letter from the Tooth Fairy, or wrap the presents from Santa in different wrapping paper? Am I making her childhood magical, or am I setting her up for heartbreak?
I remember when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher told a boy in my class to stop telling the truth about Santa, because some kids still believe. I went home to my parents and said, “I don’t know why my teacher made it seem like he’s not real.” That’s when they broke the news, and that’s the first time I experienced the feeling of betrayal.
Not to get all dramatic, but 7-year-old me couldn’t believe that my parents (who I thought loved me) would lie to my face and make me look like an idiot. That’s really how I felt. So why am I doing this to my child?
Honestly, part of it is because I want to make the most of her innocence before it’s gone. I can be Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Mama, and best friend, until she’s around 12 when I’ll become Mom, and my only super power will be the ability to suppress and annoy her. But another part of it is that losing your teeth without the Tooth Fairy would be the pits. And wrapping gifts at midnight while she sleeps without the cookies for Santa would be unfair (whoops, that’s me again).
I’ve come to terms with the fact that one day, she’ll peek behind the curtain and find me — the master manipulator; but I’m determined to rack up as many smiles as I can before that day comes. Hopefully love will magically make her forgive me.Add a Comment