Our seven-year-old daughter Elissa loves to read anything she can get her hands on.
I’ve caught her reading our Maclean’s magazines on a number of occasions, which leaves me feeling conflicted. I love the fact that she has a thirst for knowledge, but I’m not sure she’s ready to be reading about our impending housing collapse and rebel forces in Syria.
So when I saw her reading through the March issue of Today’s Parent last week, I wasn’t the least bit concerned. There were a couple of cute kids on the cover modeling rain boots and the most menacing article seemed to be about slow-cooker recipes.
What could go wrong?
A few minutes later, however, Elissa burst into the living room and shouted, “Aha! I knew it — I knew the tooth fairy isn’t real!”
Hidden in the 10th paragraph of Lisa Van De Gyn’s article — which, ironically, is about lying to your kids — is a sentence that says, “We lie to our kids about the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy for the same reasons our parents lied to us — to keep and pass along family traditions and to maintain a sense of childish wonder before their inner cynic kicks in.”
Confronted with this damning evidence, we had no choice but to admit that the tooth fairy was not real. Elissa had certainly had her suspicions before, as playground chatter had made her question the existence of the tooth fairy. She had even wanted to set up a bedside fingerprinting station a few months ago, so she could match our fingerprints against those that were left behind by the tooth fairy.
So while this revelation certainly didn’t rock her world, it did end a significant chapter in our lives. I have to admit that part of me is relieved that we no longer have to go through the tooth fairy charade.
A couple of times, we completely forgot about putting money under her pillow and it’s a hassle to round up a series of coins at 3:30 a.m. And when you find out that some parents leave $20 bills under their kids’ pillows you feel like the real fraud for leaving a series of nickles and dimes under there.
And just trying to keep the whole sham alive can be an exhausting exercise for the parents. When she started becoming suspicious about the tooth fairy, I remember reading one article that suggested you should leave your child’s bedroom window slightly open — so that they wake up thinking the tooth fairy has made a visit. Obviously, the person who suggested that idea never spent a winter in Ontario when a child lost a tooth. I also read about how you should leave a trail of fairy dust around the room as well, but I always thought that was too risky. Imagine if Elissa woke up in the middle of the night to find her father sprinking fairy dust around her room in his boxer shorts? That could scar her for life.
With the tooth fairy now out of the picture, I’m pretty sure Elissa is also doubtful about the existence of Santa Claus. The best-case scenario has that myth hanging by a single crimson thread. However, if she asks us directly about Santa Claus now, I think I will tell her the truth. We held off on the tooth fairy as long as possible because we liked the idea of her having a child-like innocence. But there is a trust factor that needs to be established between child and parent.
And if your child is old enough to flip through a copy of Maclean’s, she’s probably old enough to hear the truth about a few things in life.
Do your children still believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy? How did they find out the truth?