My son went to the dentist yesterday and had a stubborn baby tooth pulled in what was a far more gruesome procedure than I expected. We couldn’t even bring the tooth home with us, so he wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining the circumstances. “Write back,” he instructed.
He deserved a visit after the way the tooth came out. Sadly, H woke me up this morning with the news that the Tooth Fairy hadn’t come. I don’t know if he really believes in the Tooth Fairy, but I’m doing all I can to convince him, so this was a serious tactical error. I desperately want these mythical creatures to continue to exist for him.
Last year I sent away for a “package from Santa,” that came with a customized letter and official gold seal, along with a certificate declaring he was on the “good list,’ authenticated by a hoof print from Rudolph.
“He really knows a lot of stuff about me!” H exclaimed. He framed the certificate and hung it above his bookshelf.
One more year of Christmas magic preserved, I congratulated myself.
I patted myself on the back too soon. We flew to my hometown for Christmas. The gifts from Santa and and for H’s birthday the next day — unwrapped to speed the trip through airport security –were in a carry-on bag I surreptitiously put in the closet out of view. But H found it, and my curious kid could not stop asking what was in that blue suitcase. So I moved it again.
On Christmas Eve, he looked me nervously in the eye and confessed: “Mom, I looked in the blue suitcase.”
Tears instantly hit my eyes, knowing the truth was out.
“I only saw three things!” he said. “I’m sorry.”
I agonized into the wee hours about what to do. Ultimately, my husband and I decided to save the Santa gifts that had been on the top of the suitcase for his birthday and wrap up the rest to leave by the chimney.
The wait finally over for him, he dug through what was admittedly a more meager pile from Santa. Everything was going fine until he opened the art set I bought when we got to town and hid in my dad’s house. Instead of excitement, I saw disappointment.
“I saw this in Grandpa’s study,” he said, dejectedly, followed instantly by the question I feared: “Are YOU Santa?!”
He jumped in my lap and we both cried. I was overly emotional, but my sweet boy was still 7 for one more day. It was too soon. Even then, I couldn’t fully fess up. Santa is real, I told him. But there are so many people in the world, he just needs a little help from parents once in a while.
I knew this inquisitive, intelligent boy was teetering on the edge of belief. My 14-year-old nephew told me my son asked him if he believed in Santa. “Of course!” my nephew blessedly told him.
“Me too,” my son replied. “But a lot of kids in my class don’t.”
The jig is up, Mom. But I can’t admit it. He wants to believe, and I want him to.
His ninth birthday is still a few months away, and he already has to see the orthodontist and argues with me about why he can’t be on Instagram. His older sister recently announced she’s pregnant, and he has a lot of questions about how that whole thing actually works. The magic-seed-that-got-in-Mommy’s-tummy story isn’t an adequate explanation anymore.
Please don’t tell me I have to have the sex talk and tell him Dad and I are the ones who put those gold dollars under his pillow in the same week. I love that he is growing up, that he learns new things every day. But I am not ready for this.
Hoping to salvage something from the Tooth Fairy failure, I had my husband dash into our son’s room to stash the cash and respond to his note while Mr. Dubious was in the bathroom.
He ran to check under his pillow, grabbed his reward with a grin and read the note.
“Dad, this looks like your writing,” he said, looking at us both with those skeptical eyes. “But I know it’s not.”
He’s keeping the dream alive. For my sake or his, I’m not sure.