Epic Fail. Again.

I have failed. Again.

I am truly and honestly a terrible tooth fairy.

Fortunately, my oldest child has a mouth full of permanent teeth and the middle one no longer believes so he cuts me a lot of slack as long as I eventually pay up. It’s the youngest who’s the problem. He believes, he’s currently shedding half the teeth in his mouth, and he does not appreciate his tooth fairy being so unreliable.

Yesterday was a very long and brutal work day for me. The kind of day where you come home comatose and just sort of ooze your way into bed as soon as possible. I didn’t get to do that, of course. I never do.

Hal showed me his tooth, which the cafeteria ladies had put in a Ziploc bag to take home with him. I suggested that perhaps he leave it on the dining room table to make it easier for the tooth fairy.

“No, I want it under my pillow.”

I suggested that he “hide” it in the candle sconce in the dining room to make it harder on the tooth fairy (as his older brother had done while coming to terms with the tooth fairy’s true identity).

“No! I want it under my pillow!”

Right. The pillow that’s covered with stuffed animals and blankets and sits on the top bunk. Tooth fairy should be able to extract the tooth and insert the money, no problem. *Sigh*

I got some double-sided tape and put it on the top edge of the bag. I then attached that to his bed at the top of the bunk stairs. He thought that was pretty cool. I was relieved. Now I’d just have to pull off the sneak. I wouldn’t have to conduct a search and rescue event beneath a sleeping child too. Oh, and remember. I’d have to remember to do it after he went to bed.

I forgot. Like, immediately. Twice. How do you forget twice, you ask? Simple. I attached it, walked out of the room, and didn’t think about it again. The boys brushed their teeth. I then returned to the room for hugs and kisses, noticed the tooth, and felt a great surge of a) guilt that I had already forgotten and b) relief that I had just been reminded. Then I walked out and didn’t think about it again.

Not at all. Not until this morning when my husband levied a censorious eye at me and said, “The Tooth Fairy had an epic failure last night.”

I bit my tongue to keep from telling him what I thought of this all riding on my little shoulders. Instead I asked how he handled it. Apparently, Hal had adopted a very sad face with droopy eyes and said, “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come…”

While my husband and I were discussing ways to overcome my mistake, Hal came in with an announcement: “I think I know why the Tooth Fairy didn’t come last night.”

“Why didn’t she come, honey?” I asked.

“Because Rose was in our room,” he explained. The dog has been sleeping in the boys’ room for the last couple of weeks.

Without missing a beat, my husband picked up the theory. “You know, I bet that’s why Rose was barking early this morning!”

“I bet you are right!” I said in awe. “I bet she was scared of the dog. Rose saw her and barked at her and scared her off!”

“Well that settles it,” Daddy concluded. “Rose will just have to sleep in her crate tonight so the Tooth Fairy can come.”

With that, Hal left the room, satisfied. My husband turned to me and said, “Boy, your butt got saved on that one!”

“Yeah,” I said, again not bothering to ask why it was only my butt on the line. And of course, Hal just tossed me a temporary lifeline. I still have to remember tonight.

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A Macabre Imagination

Hal wanted to play in the backyard at his Denver grandma’s house recently.  The problem is, he’s not allowed back there without someone watching him.  I stepped up to the task and joined him outside.  I was relieved that he wanted to do something besides either play a game on his Nintendo DS or stare in awe as his brother played Minecraft.

We were soon engaged in some very… imaginative… play.

He handed me a small tree branch with many, many thin limbs and announced that it was my sword.  He pointed to the largest one (still smaller in diameter than the average pencil) and said, “If this one breaks off, you have plenty of others to use instead.”  He brushed his hand across the other “blades”.  I swished it back and forth, which he appreciated.  I declared it a tickle sword and tickled his belly with it.  He shrieked and ran away.

He soon approached me with his laser death ray.  As he pointed it at me, I desperately swished my tickle sword in the air between us.  He declared me dead.  I objected, saying that my tickle sword had disrupted the air between us and his death ray had not made it to me.  He grudgingly admitted that I was indeed not dead.

We then went through several rounds of “Pretend that…”  That’s the game where only one person (the youngest) is permitted to use his or her imagination.  He’s the stage director, the script writer, the producer, and the main actor.  He helpfully supplies my lines each step of the way: “Pretend that you didn’t see me and you heard a sound.  And then say ‘Oh, no!  What is that sound?!'”

My husband joined us at some point.  He and I sat on the porch swing while Hal ran around and acted out his imagination.  At one point, he told us to close our eyes and pretend that he had been “over here sleeping” and we had failed to notice that he had sneaked out.  When Daddy didn’t close his eyes, Hal amended the instructions to just pretend we hadn’t seen him.  He then acted out a fantastical and dangerous scenario with dragons and then pretended to wake up and tell us that he had had this terrible dream!

To his delight, I hammed it up and joined in enthusiastically.  My husband glanced at me periodically with raised eyebrows.  I laughed even harder.

Eventually, Hal tired of being the sleeping boy and decided he was a “Zombie Pigman”.  He walked around the deck with outstretched arms and stiff legs, snorting loudly through his nose.  He approached me and attacked before I could fully raise my tickle sword in defense.  I tried in vain to fend him off but in the end, lost first my sword and then the battle.  The Zombie Pigman strutted triumphantly away.

He headed to the sleeping area of the little boy next.  “Aha!” he announced. “I am going to steal this little boy while he sleeps!”

I leaped from the swing.  “Oh no you don’t!” I announced. “You leave my little boy alone!”

I rushed toward him and he snatched the imaginary boy and took off.  I grabbed at him and he quickly pantomimed eating his victim.  I pulled away and declared triumph, cradling my precious cargo to my chest as I returned to the swing.  He claimed it was too late, he had already eaten my son.  I pretended to rock my child and explained that he had managed to eat only the right pinky finger before I had pulled him to safety.

The Zombie Pigman lunged toward the swing and reached for the child.  I pulled back.  He claimed he got it.  I disagreed.  “But I’m stronger than you!” he explained.

I laughed.  “Stronger than a fierce momma protecting her dear baby?!  I don’t think so!”

“Fine.” he said, walking away.  “I’ll just go find a baby that no one cares about.”

Sobo-be-nye-nye

This morning, Hal brought up someone I had not heard him talk about in some time. As he ate his (by his choice) cold blueberry bagel with cream cheese, he propped up half of a bagel slice on one end.

“Mommy, this looks like Sobo-be-nye-nye’s house.”

Sobo-be-nye-nye has been his most constant imaginary friend for at least three years now. But I hadn’t heard mention of him in months. Maybe even a year.

The thought of a quarter bagel shaped house intrigued me. Hal had resumed eating said bagel, but I asked him a question.

“What is Sobo-be-nye-nye’s house made out of?”

He swallowed the food in his mouth before he answered matter-of-factly.

“It’s made out of wood and it has a candy roof. And his room has a nest in it and there are leaves that cover him to keep him warm.”

This imagery made me wonder what Sobo-be-nye-nye looks like. I had never really thought about it. I suppose I always assumed he was human. Although, I should mention that even though Hal always uses the male pronoun to describe his friend, he has usually been clear that Sobo-be-nye-nye is actually a girl.

“So… what does Sobo-be-nye-nye look like?”

He finished another bite and then said, “Well, he used to look like… a baby dragon… but now he’s grown up and he’s… an ant.”

“An ant?”

He nodded.

“He was a baby dragon and he grew into an ant?”

Another nod.

“That’s kind of strange.”

Yet another nod. There was no smiling or laughing or any other indication – other than some slight hesitations as he spoke – that he was making any of this up. Imaginary friends in general, but his in particular, fascinate me. I wish I could get into his head for just a minute and see what it’s like in there. It must be a place of magnificent wonder.

Not Our House

As we pulled into the driveway this evening, Hal called out, “Mommy! This isn’t our house.”

“Yes, Hal. This is our house.”

“No it isn’t! This is NOT our house.”

“Well then where is our house?” I asked as I gathered my things and climbed out of the truck.

“Our house is in Oklahoma. A long ways away.”

“Oh,” I said. “Is it ok if we stay here until we are able to get home?”

“Yes.”

With that, we entered the house. I handed him his backpack and asked him to take it to his room. Yes, you see where this is going, don’t you?

“I don’t have a room. This isn’t our house.”

“Ok, can you take it to the room you’ll be sleeping in while we stay here?”

“Yes.”

About ten minutes later, a near eternity for a four year old, he opened the fridge to get a snack. “Daddy!” he called. “We are almost out of yogurt!”

“No we aren’t,” I said. He looked around the door at me, confused. “This isn’t our house. That’s not our yogurt. You need to get out of these people’s fridge. I don’t think you have permission to eat their food.”

A slow grin spread across his face. And then he apparently decided it was time to stop pretending since he responded by extracting a yogurt and sitting down to eat it.

Teddy’s Wisdom

The boys had a large stick in their room. In make-believe world, it was a bow, used for taking down evil orcs or some other manner of beasts. To the dog, it was just a stick, something to carry around.

And so it was that Rose found the stick and picked it up, walking out of the room. Hal was fascinated.

“Mommy! Did you know that Rose can carry a big stick?”

“But she can’t walk softly,” amended his Dad.

I love little moments like this when I feel like we are acting out a children’s movie. Enjoyable on the surface for the kids but a little extra reference that only the grown-ups understand.

*And, yes, I realize the quote is “speak softly” but that’s not what my husband said. It would have been accurate though. The dog doesn’t speak any more softly than she walks.

Addendum: I wrote this short bit a few days ago. It was trumped first by a tumbling bottle of soda and then by a boy who thought a potholder was a towel. Tonight the house seems especially quiet. Rose is spending the night at the vet’s office after slicing her foot pretty bad while chasing rabbits in the yard. It seems appropriate to share one of her tales in honor of the poor dog, who is certainly missing us as much as we are missing her.

It all started with a couple of matching trucks

Sitting at a traffic light with Hal.

“Mommy! There’s two trucks! Do you see them?”

“Yes, honey, I do.”

“No! Those two trucks over there! They are the same color!”

“Yes, Hal, I see them. They are both gray. One is bigger than the other one. Do you think one is the big brother and the other one is his little brother?”

“Yes!”

About then, a large red truck pulls up beside them.

“Look, Mommy! Another truck! It’s a red one!”

“Mm-hm. Is that their sister?”

“No. That’s the daddy.”

“How do you know it’s the daddy and not the sister?”

“Because their sister is dead.”

“Oh.”

Our light has turned green. As we pass in front of them, we see a white truck behind the little gray one in the turn lane.

“And the big white truck is the grandpa. And that other one is the mommy.”

“Ok.”

“And all the little cars are the grandmas.”

I am trying to not draw too many parallels between our make-believe truck family and Hal’s desires for our real one. Surely he loves his sister. Surely he does.

Germs’ll Make ‘Em Tougher

I have a dear friend who is a new mom and very concerned about germs. She dutifully followed the doctor’s instructions to keep the baby at home for the first six weeks. She also kept him away from children until he had his 3 month shots. And don’t even think about touching him if you haven’t washed your hands!

These may very well be good precautions that all mothers should take. In fact, I think more and more mothers are exceptionally careful about sanitizing their children’s environment. I am not one of them. Never have been, not even with my first child, and my children are almost never sick.

Daryl was born on a Wednesday, two days before Jane’s third birthday and three days before her party. Some of our friends assumed the party was cancelled. But, really, what is a mother to do? Tell her excited toddler that she doesn’t get to have her birthday party after all because of this little beast that she’s not sure she wants to accept into the household anyway? Take time away from cherishing my newest bundle of joy so I can try to remember who has been invited so I can call and tell them no?

Nah, party’s on! I even took him with me to Wal-Mart the day we got out of the hospital. I needed (wanted?) some things that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) let anyone else get. And of course, I couldn’t leave Daryl at home. What if he got hungry?

The day of the party, he was passed around and around. Every adult and even some children took a turn holding him. It didn’t occur to me to ask anyone to wash their hands first. It just didn’t.

When Jane was in preschool, her teacher took me aside one day. “Jane keeps spilling her Cheerios on the floor and then crawling under the table to eat them! I keep telling her to stop but she won’t listen.”

I flashed back to all the times I had picked up Cheerios from the freshly vacuumed carpet and put them back in her bowl. Oh, shoot. Who am I kidding? The floor wasn’t vacuumed! When we got home, I had a very serious talk with Jane. “Jane, when you are at school, you need to not eat food that you’ve picked up off the floor. Okay?”

I come by my “germs’ll make ’em tougher” attitude honestly. For one thing, I’ve been an avid backpacker for many years. It’s a little hard to worry about germs and cleanliness when you are not showering for a week or two, conserving water, swallowing your toothpaste, picking up food from the ground and either eating it or packing it out, pooping while squatted against a moss-covered log. Some of that necessarily lax attitude is bound to seep into my front country life.

It’s not just the back country lifestyle, though. As I said, I come by it honestly. I seriously do not remember my mother being terribly concerned about germs. I can remember playing behind the backstop at her softball games. I would build intricate farms from whatever I could find on the ground. Sticks formed the fences that separated the animals. Rocks were the cows. Cigarette butts made excellent sheep, especially if the outer covering had come off. My mother always smiled and listened to my descriptions. She never yelled not to touch that stuff and go wash your hands right now, young lady!

She and I are outright germaphobes compared to my grandmother, however. I’ll never forget the day that I complimented her on this scrumptious gourmet bread being served at a family meal. “Where did you get it, Grandma?”

“Oh, that? I got it out of the dumpster behind the 501 Cafe.”

I spluttered, “You got it where? What were you doing in the 501 Cafe dumpster?”

“Well, I was checking the day old bread store’s dumpster next door and noticed that they had dumped some bread in this other one so checked it out. It’s perfectly good bread. It’s always wrapped in plastic. They just throw it away after it’s a couple of days old.”

I can assure you that I have never been dumpster diving and have no plans to try it out. But I’m also not going to fret over my child continuing to eat his ice cream after the dog licks it or finishing off that slice of pizza after it hits the floor. I do not expect everyone to be like me though, so I promise not to snicker (too much) if you exercise more caution with your own children.