When my kids were younger, I was such a creative mom. I threw super elaborate birthday parties, decorated to the hilt for every occasion, and made sure our Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Elf on the Shelf were crazy fun and magical. Then life happened . . . the kids got older and I found myself a single mom, and some of those super cute extras started being neglected. Our Tooth Fairy was particularly forgetful. Sometimes after several nights, my kiddos would become exasperated and my excuses became more elaborate . . . “This must be a busy tooth season,” I’d say.
Breaking the News About the Tooth Fairy
When the Tooth Fairy first came to our house, I was so excited. I was also under the influence of some extraordinarily enthusiastic and creative mom friends that gave me some great ideas on how the Tooth Fairy worked. She came with a sweet note, thoughtfully handwritten and personal. She sprinkled fairy dust (a.k.a. glitter) everywhere and she left gold coins. She was so cool!
I had a blast sneaking in after my toothless cuties fell asleep and set the stage for a magical morning experience. That was so much fun! For a couple of years.
Then my boys got older and they started staying up later . . . . I’d convince myself to set my alarm to get up in the middle of the night to work my magic. That worked for a while. Then I talked myself into just waiting for the morning because I was up way before them anyway. Then the day came when . . . I forgot . . . THE TOOTH FAIRY FORGOT TO COME! I felt horrible. I made a joke about how busy she must have been and my angelic children were so understanding about it that I didn’t learn any lessons. I just got worse.
One evening my oldest two sons, who were 14 and 12 at the time, came to me and asked me to be honest about the “Santa Situation.” I was . . . . I expected to be sad, but I was so relieved. I made them promise not to say anything to their youngest brother, and they were true to their word. They actually got involved in some of the Elf schemes. (Thank goodness! Can I get an amen from a couple of mamas that understand???) It was nice having help, and to be quite honest, I was happy that I wasn’t deceiving them anymore but was involving them in the magic.
Eventually my utter lack of energy and memory got the best of me. My youngest son came to me one night and let me know that his tooth had been under his pillow for almost a week and the Tooth Fairy had still not come. I didn’t even know he’d lost a tooth! He confessed he didn’t tell me on purpose because he wanted to know if I was the Tooth Fairy. So here we were . . . this was the day . . . I wasn’t ready, but here it was anyway. I sat him down and explained how I was the Tooth Fairy and how parents use opportunities for celebration, like losing a tooth, or a major holiday to teach kids about how magical life can be, and how to believe in things they can’t see. I told him it was the same for the Easter Bunny. Before I could finish coming clean about it all he said, “It’s okay, Mom. I kind of knew already. But I know 100 percent that God and Santa are real.”
Here baby . . . go ahead and stick this dagger way deep in mama’s heart . . . .
Santa Came Next
When I broke the news that I take care of Santa too, I could see the hurt and sadness plain as day on his face. I told him that playing Santa is a tradition that parents continue in an effort to teach kids about the spirit of giving. I explained all about St. Nicholas and his legacy and how it’s now his job to help keep that spirit and magic alive for others.
There are some things I won’t miss . . . When his last tooth fell out, my youngest sent me a hilarious video of him dropping the tooth in the trash. No words . . . just an image of his childhood falling into the wastebasket. I ran up to his room and all he said to me was, “RIP Tooth Fairy.” I know he was being snarky, but it was hysterical and I could tell that all had been forgiven. I handed him $4 and congratulated him for growing another adult tooth. I’m okay with not having to sneak into his room anymore, praying I don’t wake him up.
That pesky elf is still going to come. He may have an accident though that incapacitates him for a week or so when I run out of ideas. He can rest up in a tissue box and heal that broken leg he got while sledding at the North Pole. That will buy me some time, but he will come because it’s fun. It’s fun for the kids and for me. We will still have our annual photo with Santa — even the big 15 year old is looking forward to that. But now, sprinkled in among the antics and photos will be conversations about giving- of yourself, and your time, energy, and wealth to spread love and joy to others. We will still delight in the magic of the season, but we’ll do it while sleeping through the night.