“A long time ago, a little girl was sad because her beloved tooth had fallen out. And so her Mommy and Daddy tried to cheer her up with a beautiful story: a tale of a special fairy who took that tooth and placed it as a star in the heavens above. The fairy brought money or a little treat in exchange for the tooth. And that was how it began . . .”
That is how it began a few months ago, and that is how it will begin this evening when we sit down with the Maiden. But even the sweetest tales must eventually come to an end, and tonight this book will be closed. Tonight we will say “Good night” to the tooth fairy.
The Maiden is a funny child–given to both hard practicality and flights of sentiment. It was a wrench for her to give up her first tooth, but the wonder of the tooth fairy tale lessened the pain. Her second tooth she kept; Timmy the Toothie now shares space on the shelf with her other “museum” finds.
On Saturday, the Maiden’s long-awaited third tooth came out. She put it in an envelope. She wrote a letter. But then when she went to bed, she sobbed and cried; fairy or no, she just couldn’t bear to part with the little tooth. Not yet.
So the tooth fairy wrote a sweet note. She told the Maiden that she could give up the tooth when she was finally ready for it to become a beautiful star. Sunday, the Maiden woke with a smile: yes, today was the day. She’d do it. She was ready.
Then Sunday night came. The Maiden was in turmoil. It was breaking her heart to give up the tooth, but she really wanted the quarter, and she was angry, angry, angry with herself that she couldn’t let it go. Her brain and heart were locked in a fierce battle, one which could yield no winner.
The Man and I looked at each other. This wasn’t working.
So the obliging fairy wrote another note: Don’t worry, give it when you’re ready. Even if it takes weeks. Oh, and I have a surprise for you. Maybe this would help her over the hump.
This morning, the Maiden was in tears. She wanted the surprise. She guessed she would have to give up her tooth. But really, deep down, she knew she never could.
As of tonight, she will no longer have to try.
It’s time. Tonight we are going to break the spell and put her little heart at ease; tell her that the tooth fairy is just Mommy and Daddy continuing a childhood custom like other parents around the world.
There will be tears. There will be hugs. There’s no fairy, yes; but we are real, and so is our love for her. That’s no silly fairy tale. That story won’t end.
I hate for her to lose this mystery so soon. I really do. But it’s like playing peekaboo with a toddler: Everything’s fun as long as the squeals and giggles come, but when Junior gets scared or confused and upset, the game is over and it’s time for something real.
The Maiden’s desperate for a solution to her dilemma. But the only answer is the truth, and the truth is that she doesn’t have to choose. There is no tooth fairy; teeth don’t become stars; and she doesn’t have to make the choice between heartbreak and a harmless fantasy that’s no longer serving its purpose.
She can keep her tooth. Close her eyes. And know that Mommy and Daddy will always love her, and the real stars in the sky will shine down upon her sleep.