I left you yesterday with the hope that the Tooth Fairy would not let down the Hopeful Kid again. As Paul Harvey would say, here’s… the rest of the story.
The evening was very busy with two consecutive hours of basketball practice, one for the younger and the other for the older boy. We didn’t even leave the second gym until 10 minutes past their bedtime. And Hal, the boy I must not let down again, was a mess. He had been hyper and problematic all evening. Now he was tired and indulging in angry, tearful outbursts for any little thing. My nerves were fried by the time we got home. My patience shot.
We had already agreed on a bedtime plan but when we got home, Hal wanted to do it differently. So off Daryl went to the shower while I tried to help Hal with his homework. This might have been the most inappropriately matched homework I’ve ever seen come home. I think a third grader could have executed it successfully, but it was nothing but an exercise in frustration for my Kindergartener and his already exasperated mother.
Finally, Hal made it to the shower. My husband then asked if I wanted to go ahead and take care of the tooth.
“Um, he’s not in bed. Or asleep. He’d see the quarters when he crawled into bed. What good would that do?”
“He’s in the shower right now,” he explained. “You can tell him the tooth fairy came by while he was showering. At least this way you wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting.”
I didn’t like the idea but gathered the quarters and headed to the boys’ room anyway. Where Daryl was sitting on his bed wishing the dog could sleep with him like usual. He liked the idea of swapping the tooth for coins right then because “then Rose could sleep with me tonight.” When I asked what I’d tell Hal, he said, “Just tell him that the Tooth Fairy had so many kids to visit that she decided to visit some houses during the day and she must have done it while he was at school.”
It just didn’t sit right with me though. So I gathered up the tiny scraps of Tooth Fairy dignity I still possessed and said, “No. It’s just one night. Rose can come back in tomorrow night. I’m waiting.” I then placed the quarters in a stack on the toilet lid in our bathroom, knowing that the last thing I’d try to do before retiring for the night would cause me to see them.
The problem turned out to be that it was 9:40 before Hal crawled into bed. This was just 20 minutes shy of when I planned to go to sleep myself.
“He’ll fall asleep quickly,” my husband said. “It’ll be fine.” I secured his commitment to do it if I was ready to go to bed before Hal was asleep. And then I got so busy that it was 11:00 before I knew it.
I changed into my pajamas and carefully opened the door to their room. I tiptoed quietly over to the bed. I began to open the Ziploc bag that contained the tooth. Hal moved. I froze. Hal moved some more and then sat up!
Mayday! Mayday! Child is up! Operation Tooth Fairy is in jeopardy!
I glanced at the door wondering if I could escape. I glanced at the older child on the bottom bunk and wondered if I could use him as an excuse to be in the room. I hunkered down slightly and wondered if maybe I just wouldn’t be seen below the edge of the top bunk.
He, meanwhile, sat there and wavered slightly but did not lay back down. I decided to go on the offensive.
“Hal?” I asked. “Are you ok?”
He didn’t respond, just moved like a sapling in a light breeze and kicked his legs a bit. I noticed a rattling sound, like a wrapper.
“What do you have?” I asked, reaching under his leg to extract an empty party favor bag. “Hey, Hal. Are you ok?”
I reached out to him and touched his bare torso with the intention of helping him return to his prone state. Unfortunately, I forgot that since my husband keeps the thermostat in the low 60’s, my hands were like blocks of ice.
He cried out and pushed at my hands as he tried to scramble away, hampered by the mass of blankets and sheets. I thought I had doomed my mission to failure. But he was not awake. He resumed his wobbly sitting a little farther away from me. His eyes stayed closed. I stared at him for a minute.
Finally, I decided to try opening the bag again. As the faint zipper sound started, I decided to cover it with the rattle of the gift bag – a noise that he must be impervious to since he had been making the sound himself by rolling over it. Feeling silly, I crinkled the bag slightly with one hand while extracting the tooth with the other. Eventually, I had the tooth in my hand and the quarters in the bag.
He sighed and struggled until he was lying down again. I crept carefully out of the room thinking about just how much I hate being the Tooth Fairy.
Ironically, when he woke up this morning, he didn’t think about the tooth at all. He refused to get out of bed. Both siblings were yelling at him to hurry up which just made him stall more. He had no clean dress code pants. He was a mess. As he sat on his brother’s bed donning his shoes, I had to point out the quarters in mock surprise. His face lit up just a bit.
Parenting. Sometimes you have to work so hard to get a tiny little reward. Yet the screw-ups seem to come so naturally. Oh, well. One more tooth adventure completed. There aren’t that many left in that boy’s mouth. I might almost see the light at the end of this silly, self-constructed tunnel.