The Beginning of the End
It was completely by accident, mind you. My 7-year-old likes to play in my jewellery box from time to time. So I remove all the stuff I don’t want her to play with, like birth certificates and other items that would be difficult to replace. Then she sits on my bed, happily digging through the trinkets I have accumulated over the course of my life.
After she had been playing for about ten minutes, she came down to the kitchen and handed me a little pink box. “What’s this?” she asked quietly.
I told her I didn’t know. She told me it looked quite like the treasure boxes that the school gives out when you lose your tooth at school. Then she demanded that I open the box. There, in all its nostalgic smallness, was a tooth.
I tried to ignore the sensation of my heart sinking down to my toes as I smiled and told her that it must have been the tooth we had asked the Tooth Fairy to leave behind that one time. “No,” she said emphatically, heading towards the china cabinet. “That tooth is up here.” Then she dug around and produced it for me to see with my own eyes.
As my daughter stood there, eyes trained expectantly on my face, I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable conversation; the direct question I have been dreading all these years; the question that can’t be evaded with generalizations about magic and believing; the question that requires a simple yes or no answer. Amazingly, that question never surfaced because the phone rang and, praise be, it was for me! Somehow the matter dropped and I thought to myself, “Phew! Just phew.”
Easter came and went with all three kids keyed up and seemingly still believing in the existence of a stealthy furry benefactor. As I watched my kids running about the house, hunting for chocolate treasures, I thought again of the Tooth Fairy, now recovering nicely from my misstep, and I wondered how much longer the believing will last.
Not long enough, apparently.
Last week my son had a friend over. They were upstairs getting something from his room and as they descended the stairs I overheard their conversation, spoken in hushed tones that were no match for my supersonic Mom hearing. In a split second I learned that my son doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny. Or the Tooth Fairy. Or any of “that stuff,” to quote his friend.
I wonder how many parents think one careless act on their part causes their children’s belief to crumble. How many think, as I did, that they put these iconic representations of childhood wonder on life support? Now I see that is not necessarily how it happens. As our children grow, they begin to favour practicality over magic. They begin to understand that bunny rabbits don’t have opposable thumbs and that the laws of physics preclude a single man traveling around the world in just one night. They begin to doubt that any person, fairy or otherwise, has a need for so many teeth. Sometimes there is no teary confrontation, no direct questions, just a quiet awakening to the truth. Then, one day, your child quietly says goodbye to the magical symbols of their childhood and pulls the plug on the life support machine, while you’re out of the room getting coffee.
This is an original Canada Moms Blog post.