It has been my experience that magical entities have some of the most difficult shoes to fill. As a mom, I’ve played the role of a nurse and healer, an educator, a comedienne, a psychic, a law enforcer, a peacekeeper and truce-maker (and occasionally an instigator, because let’s face it – that’s basically free entertainment). All of them pale in comparison to the level of difficulty that comes with taking on the role of a mythical creature. Well, at least one creature in particular: The Tooth Fairy.
Santa Claus is a snap… unless you count all the times I’ve spent assembling things until the wee hours of the morn.
And the Easter Bunny is so simple it’s practically a joke. Fill a basket with sweet stuff, hide some eggs and *poof* you’re done!
The Tooth Fairy… she’s another story altogether. She’s a psychological thriller that leaves you feeling anxious all over, involuntarily clenching your muscles and holding your breath with every step you take into the den of the sleeping lions. She’s full of nail-biting intrigue, unexpected twists and turns, perilous moments of alarm followed by welcomed sighs of relief and silent happy-dances if it all goes well in the end.
It’s a damned harrowing experience.
The thing you have to remember is that the Tooth Fairy is supposed to be a beautiful gravity-defying creature of light, a tiny graceful pixie who’s able to hover silently in the still air of the bedroom as our wee ones peacefully dream, blissfully unaware that their little lost teeth are about to be pilfered by someone wearing iridescent spandex.
Creeping across the wooden minefield of creaky floorboards, my own portrayal of the Tooth Fairy more closely resembled that of a blind ogre wearing grey sweatpants, carelessly and recklessly bumbling through the gauntlet that is my daughters’ bedroom with absolutely no grace or coordination whatsoever.
On the other hand, it was probably hilarious to watch.
The Quest For The Lost Baby Teeth was an obstacle course from beginning to end. Turning a knob on a bedroom door is a simple enough task for most people, but the latch on their door sticks in such a way that this Tooth Fairy always had to force it open as gently and quietly as possible.
If I didn’t first alert the two sleeping children by opening their Bedroom Door From Hell, I would proceed onward and inward like a ninja, sending my silent prayer out into the ether along the way, hoping that the floor had been cleared of all Legos and Barbie doll shoes. Tiptoeing in bare feet I would tread the route ever so softly, as the old wooden floor is directly above the basement so every step held the potential to emit an impressive crre-eee-eak or cra-aaa-ack that would echo throughout the room. This was the part where those fairy wings would have really come in handy.
If I *still* hadn’t awoken the children by the time I reached their nightstand dresser, I would quickly drop the money and grab the tooth before beginning my perilous journey back out of the bedroom.
Sometimes, it all went flawlessly and according to plan. Other times, not so much.
Once, I walked into the bedroom only to find my older daughter still wide awake (at 10:30pm). Impressed with what I thought was a mighty fine job of ninja-ing my way around in the dark, out of the silence came a whisper:
“Mommy? What are you doing?”
“I’m… uh. Hmm. Well. What am I doing here? I thought I heard your sister calling out for cookies. Must have been my imagination. Go to sleep now.”
It worked out well in the end because she was up so late that night, she was still asleep when I came into the room to wake her up for school in the morning. I successfully made the drop right before I called her name.
And, well… there was that one time when the Tooth Fairy forgot to come altogether. Now in my defense it had been a very long day and I was physically exhausted and falling asleep on the couch by ten o’clock. I went upstairs to bed that night and completely shirked my tooth thieving duties.
Morning came, as it tends to do, and I awoke to the screeching chorus of “HEY! THE TOOTH FAIRY DIDN’T TAKE MY TOOTH!”
Sleep still in my eyes, I threw on my robe and I stumbled downstairs. Lo and behold, the Tooth Fairy had not come and my older daughter, Doom, was very, very distressed over this.
Thankfully, I’m a quick-thinking fairy. Even at 6:45 in the morning. And even before coffee. (I do have to wonder whether the *real* Tooth Fairy might have been spiritually guiding me somehow because let’s face it, I’m lucky if I put my clothes on the right way that early in the morning, let alone being able to craft an explanation that actually makes sense.)
I rubbed my eyes. “Wow. Do you see how foggy it is outside? Look at that! I don’t remember the last time I saw a fog so thick… geez. It’s like we’re living inside a cloud! I think maybe the Tooth Fairy just couldn’t find our house in all that fog.”
She seemed to accept my sound reasoning.
“Why don’t you go put your tooth back on the night stand, and I’ll make you and your sister some breakfast,” I said.
Off she went, like nothing had happened. It began to get much lighter and brighter outside, and as they sat in the dining room together, eating oatmeal and bickering with each other, I formulated Phase Two of my little patch-up plan. It looked like thus:
I slyly waltzed into the girls’ bedroom while they ate, left the note (along with a five-spot because I felt so damned guilty) and took the tooth. And I went about my morning routine, grabbing a cup of coffee and taking the dogs outside like I always do, and raising no suspicion in any way.
Triumphant as I might be, the Tooth Fairy has also received the occasional complaint. According to Destruction, the last dollar she ever received for a tooth was too old and wrinkly to have been made from magic. It took a shit ton of reasoning with her to get her to even believe that it really came from the Tooth Fairy. It was all I had. Well, maybe not all that I had… I could have given her some Chuck E. Cheese tokens and a piece of lint, instead.
That wrinkly old bill *may* have been what eventually led her to stop believing, at least in part. About a month ago, Destruction pulled me aside privately, looked into my eyes and said, “Admit it. You’re the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, right? And you hide all the easter eggs, too, don’t you?”
I couldn’t lie to her. I had fun keeping up the charade for all those years, which I suppose if you’re being really technical that was essentially a lie-by-omission, but when she asked me directly I had to tell her the truth about my late-night antics.
And then I had to assure her that she’d continue to get free money every time she loses a tooth. After all, a girl has got to have her priorities.
I think it’s kind of cool that I get to remain a Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, and I’ll still hide all the easter eggs because we love those traditions in spite of the Big Secret no longer being a secret. To be honest, I would have missed playing those characters if I had to give them up entirely.
I’m glad I don’t have to.