My children were young when my marriage reached its end. After everything was said and done they ended up living with my ex husband. It wasn’t the way I wanted things to be, there were things that were worse and things that were better but we made the best of it. Weekends were spent with me, school holidays and summer holidays.
My ex was not the sort of man who believed that children should believe in fairies so while he bowed to convention regarding the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus he simply was not going to play the tooth fairy game. My eldest was the only one losing teeth at the time and I convinced her that since the Tooth Fairy was a lady that she would find her way to my house easier than to her dad’s and so she should save her fallen teeth to put under her pillow at my house.
All went along well in the tooth fairy department for a year or two. The eldest has brought her teeth to my house with unfailing regularity, and had convinced her younger sister to do the same. Number 2 daughter is a spirit unto herself however, and one day she decided to test mom’s theory about the tooth fairy. She announced that the next tooth she lost she wasn’t going to wait till the weekend visit, she was going to put that tooth under her pillow that very night.
I was blissfully unaware of the crisis my eldest faced that night until later. By now she knew that her sister was going to be disappointed as she’d secretly tried this very thing herself, only to find the tooth still there in the morning. So she waited till her sister was asleep and snuck into her room replacing the tooth with two shiny quarters from her own allowance.
She told me the story the next weekend and I tried hard not to cry. Nevermore than in that moment did the guilt and selfishness I’d felt about the divorce rise up to confront me. Nevermore than in that moment when I saw her innocence draining away. I rewarded her with a dollar for her kindness to her sister, hugged her and told her how proud I was of her. She went out to play and I sat and cried.
Believing in the tooth fairy was one of the childhood dreams that are so precious and I had let that be taken from her, I berated myself. I was immensely proud of her though and through my guilt I found a glimmer of hope that some of what I was teaching her was the reason she’d been so compassionate towards her sister.
A few weeks later, she hugged me good night and whispered in my ear. “Mommy, I lost a tooth today.” She showed me the tooth proudly. “Do you think the tooth fairy will come if I put it under my pillow?” Her face was earnest, eager for my answer and innocent of all sarcasm or guile.
“Yes, baby, I’m certain she will.”