Our Tooth Fairy is really bad. She might even be the worst. It is not unusual for her to be late. She has written apology notes, added interest to the going rate, and been such a repeat offender than even calendar reminders have been ineffective. The latest failure was enough to put her on probationary status here. DAYS (not even sure how many, so THAT many) after the tooth went under the pillow, she somehow remembered and panicked. She felt under the pillow to no avail (dang, Ethan’s head is big and heavy!) and the load of guilt was so large that she dropped the money without a traded tooth even though her husband said to forget about it all. The next day the customer placed the bright green box containing the tooth prominently on his bedside table. The money under the pillow had been successfully retrieved and put away without a single word. Husband’s guess that the gig was up started to sink in as the Fairy felt her fairy days drifting away.
Ethan is almost 11 years old. As a 5th grader, he has noticed other kids his age sitting in the front seat of their cars at school pick up. He has asked to do the same since school started, but I wasn’t ready yet. For some reason, it signified change: closer proximity to the steering wheel of freedom, a crossing over from which there was no going back, adulthood. In my dramatic motherly mind, I wanted to keep him buckled in the back seat with his pacifier within reach. 🙂 Then the tooth fairy hit probationary status. I realized that there should probably be a discussion of some sort before we fired her. The next time I took Ethan to Tae Kwon Do (which is also the nights Connor has soccer and our family is split), I invited him to sit in the front seat for our just-me-and-him ride home.
He was excited, and I could not resist telling him to not want to grow up too fast, that he’ll be able to sit in the front the rest of his life, and that he should temper his excitement to up and leave me. (Ok, not really the last part.) I noticed with a sigh how fully he filled that front passenger space. With my fairy wings dampened by the passing of time, I started my flittering around the topic of her last major incompetency.
Me: (Sigh.)”E, so did the Tooth Fairy finally bring you money?”
E: “Yeah. But she didn’t take the tooth.”
Me: “Maybe she couldn’t get it. Was it under your pillow the whole time?”
E: “Yeah. The tooth actually broke in two.” (It probably couldn’t take the weight of his heavy head atop it for COUNTLESS nights.)
Me, finally stopping the flittering and descending in defeat: (SIGH.) “Ok, so I guess you know who the tooth fairy is now?”
Me: “You knew it was mommy, right?”
E: “Uh….it is? You’re the tooth fairy?”
Me: (ARGH, I could’ve kept that pacifier a little longer!) “Yeah, daddy and I thought you knew that and had figured it out by now.” (Because how incompetent can she be?)
E: “Well, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t really know…”
Me: “How do you feel about finding out?”
E: “I don’t care as long as I can keep getting money for my teeth.” (Truth. He is his father’s son.)
He took it like a man. If there was a child, it was me, holding on tightly to things that may be ready to be let go. He agreed to not tell his little brother. He went on to the next topic quickly and naturally not allowing me to linger in my fairy dust. (I am still going to sprinkle it on thick at Christmas. Santa is definitely fully employed here!) From that conversation on, Ethan has automatically gotten in the front seat after Tae Kwon Do. We decided that was the only time, so he still sits in the back with his brother every other ride. But those short treks back home are no longer filled with motherly sighs. I find myself truly enjoying his company beside me. Sometimes I get lost in so much nagging, the struggles of his whining or negativity, the frustrations of his having to get his own way, and on and on. These precious front seat rides are miraculously free from those typical trials. We are talking about funny parts of our day with Harper dog. We are reminiscing about things he remembers with the precision of an observant historian. We are having conversations about school, friends, life. There are no pacifiers, but there are new joys for my mother’s heart that I hold onto even tighter. I am loving his presence next to me when I thought it would be hard to no longer have him behind me.
As if on cue, the same night of Ethan’s tooth fairy reveal, Connor had a bad dream and crawled into our bed. Those occurrences are not common, but they are not rare either. Some nights when I get little feet on my face and restless sleep, I wish they were over. But in light of a kid in the front seat, I savored his little sleeping body finding comfort in mama’s bed knowing that those days are numbered.
Connor has a habit of coming out of his room after being tucked in to get a drink of water. One night recently while sipping, he told us that when it’s his turn to have Harper in his room at bedtime, he always goes over and has a snuggling heart-to-heart talk with her before getting his water. I asked him what he said and he answered that some of the conversation is just between him and his dog. He did let us know tidbits like asking her how she likes her new toy or telling her that even when she (play) bites him that he still loves her. My baby somehow reminded me with his amusing dog talk that he is still my little baby. Mike managed to record one of these nighttime canine conversations. It ended like this:
“…so Harpy, I want to say to you one last thing. You’re just a little…cute…pup. And that will always be for the rest of my life. (BIG SIGH.) Night-night, Harpy.”
Boys, you are both little, cute, sons. And that will always be for the rest of my life. BIG SIGH. Lots of savoring. Love, your melodramatic mother aka former Tooth Fairy.