The Ongoing Saga of the Tooth Fairy

There was such a long break since the last activation of the Tooth Fairy in our house that I had almost forgotten the agony and stress that went with it. And then Hal showed me a bloody molar that I extracted for him one evening.

I don’t know if Hal still believes in the Tooth Fairy or if he knows it’s me. But he remembers the ritual. Basically. He put the tooth in a Ziploc bag (easier for me to find than a loose tooth) and put it on the bed. His brother’s bed, actually, which his brother (understandably) found odd. But I think Hal knew that the Tooth Fairy would never find it on his own bed, covered as it is by copious stuffed animals, blankets, books, toys, the real live dog that somehow picks out a place to sleep on it, and a large box that Hal prefers to sleep in.

I suggested we move the tooth to the dresser so his brother didn’t knock it off the bed and tucked him in. An hour or more later, when ready to pass out myself, I opened the door expecting an easy exchange of tooth-in-bag with coins-in-bag. But something about the air in the room made me hesitate. I walked over to the bed and peered into the box perched on the top bunk. No one was moving but I could see the bright glare of his Kindle Fire poorly blocked behind a raised leg.

I did the whole disappointed mommy shtick and took the device from him. He rolled over, pulling the blanket over his head in embarrassment and sorrow at getting caught. I then carefully placed the coins on the dresser, grabbed the tooth, and exited. I smiled a bit at the irony that arguably the least stressful tooth exchange had occurred while the child was awake.

But it left me wondering. What exactly was he thinking when he stayed up late on the night he lost a tooth? Here are my theories:

  1. He had already forgotten that his tooth lay waiting on the dresser.
  2.  He still believes in the Tooth Fairy and assumed that she would wait until he was asleep, no matter how late that might be.
  3. He knows it’s me and hoped the Fire would keep him awake until he caught me in the act but he either thought the box would adequately hide him or he failed to consider better hiding the screen.

Whichever it is, the Tooth Fairy is one of those Catch-22 situations. No one talks about Fight Club. You can’t ask if they still believe because that would be tacit admission that she doesn’t exist. And they are reluctant to tell you they don’t believe out of fear that you will stop giving them money for something as worthless as an old tooth. So we keep pretending. Or at least, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not sure what he’s doing. I haven’t asked.

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When Does Santa Come?

“Mom, what time does Santa come?”

This question came from my fifteen year old daughter, who is fully cognizant of the true reality of Santa. The question intrigued me.

“He comes after everyone goes to bed,” I replied.

“And what time is he usually done?”

“He tries to be done as early as possible so he can get a good night’s sleep.”

“So like 10 or 11 o’clock?” She probed.

“Yes, but he wouldn’t be happy if children were out and about after the presents and stockings were out.”

“Well, he’s just going to have to be ok with it.”

“What are you wanting to do?”

“I can’t tell you. It’s a surprise.”

“It would make more sense to set an alarm for 5 or 6 than to try to stay up past Santa’s departure.”

“Well, it’s something Daryl wants to do and we thought we’d set an alarm for like midnight or 1:00 because if we waited until morning, Hal might wake up early and ruin it.”

She then proceeded to spill the beans on what Daryl wanted to do, which is a shame because I like surprises and what he has in mind is really sweet. Then again, it’s probably better that I have at least an inkling since there’s no way they could slip out of their rooms and add some decoration in the living room without me waking up.

And movement in the living room during the night before Christmas is a surefire way to get me out of bed.

Of course, this presents me with a dilemma. I do what we call a scavenger hunt on Christmas Day. It’s not really a scavenger hunt, more a series of clues that the kids solve to lead them to the next clue and then eventually to their big gift.

It’s a lot of work to put together and this year, I plan on going big. I wanted to arrange something over the door with a string tied to the doorknob so that when they opened the door, tinsel (and the first clue) would come cascading down on their heads. I’d rather the tinsel not cascade down on their sneaky little heads at 1:00 in the morning.

So now I guess I get to be the one setting an alarm for 5:00 to attempt to install the contraption without waking anyone up. It’s considerably easier to make noise in the hallway without waking people up at the start of their night of sleep, not the end.

This could be trickier than the early-morning-oops-I-forgot tooth fairy money-for-tooth swap. So far, that’s always been successful. Maybe Santa will prove as gifted as his fairy counterpart.

 

In A Nutshell…

I haven’t had much time to blog lately and I don’t see that changing for awhile now. I’ve had a lot of ideas on things to write about but then things get in the way. Things like working overtime, my husband hogging the computer to work on our taxes, being too tired. Always too tired.

I planned to blog about our nearly-disastrous, certainly not-as-planned two-day Spring Break. The one that had us sit immobile on the interstate for nearly an hour because of downed power lines. And then we finally got to our destination to find it hopelessly overcrowded with no place to park. So we headed to Central Market. Yes, the Great Spring Break of 2015’s highlight was a trip to a grocery store.

But, you see, it was BaconFest! This cracked my husband and me up since Pandora had been ruthlessly advertising BaconFest during our morning workouts for weeks. We gave each kid a certain amount of money to spend and everyone had the time of their lives buying bagels, tortillas with bacon chunks in them, stinky cheese, fruit.

The next day, we traveled to another town 2 hours away just so Jane could see a couple of friends. Only one of them bailed. And the communication with the other wasn’t great. They still had a great time, although Daddy spent all his time unexpectedly ferrying people about. I played “Lunar Golf” (mini golf with glow-in-the-dark elements under black lights) with the two boys, who fought in such a ridiculous way that I was exhausted.

Trust me, the telling of their interaction was going to be so funny! Weeks ago, that is. Why bother now?

We drove from there to a town roughly halfway home so I could buy some wine from my new favorite winery. But they wouldn’t let me sample without sitting at a table and ordering a flight. Eight quickly consumed ounces of wine later (on an empty stomach), I was swaying at the counter buying 9 bottles of wine and joining their wine club.

And then we headed back home to some friends’ house, where we ate great food and drank more wine. All in all, a reasonably good but not-as-planned and way-too-short Spring Break. But all it gets is a light brush stroke because it’s simply not current.

Then there’s Daryl, who broke his right thumb last week. He’s the only kid in our family that is right handed. So now he’s in a splint and the school has to have a special meeting to secure permission for him to take his standardized tests without filling in the bubbles. He’ll read off his answers to a teacher who will fill in the bubbles for him. Assuming it’s all approved.

The tale of how he broke it (playing dodge ball at school) was a riveting tale as he shared it with me. I planned to share it with you. But the energy seems to have gone out of the moment and I no longer think I could do it justice.

Then there’s the ongoing Tooth Fairy near failures. Both Daryl and Hal lost teeth last week. I think Hal now has more holes than he does teeth. Some friends, some semi-local, some from two states away, came over Saturday night. I remarked at the beginning of the evening that I had to remember to perform my Tooth Fairy role for Hal.

Well… by the time everyone was loading up to go about 1:30 Sunday morning… yeah, I know… bad idea… anyway… by then, I had completely forgotten about the tooth. And in a lucky, saved-my-butt-but-also-demonstrated-what-a-lame-tooth-fairy-I-am move, one of the guests reminded me. Yes, one of the guests. In my defense, he was the only one who hadn’t been drinking. But still. He’s not even a parent!

Maybe that’s why he still has brain cells.

Then we get to today. When the big news was not who was announcing a run for the Presidency, not that voice recordings had been successfully removed from the black box in that horrific airline crash, not that Earth exists because Jupiter was a giant planet-eating monster back in the day.

No, the big news of the day was that Zayne Malik left One Direction. And my daughter’s world stopped spinning. It’s not the proudest moment of her life. She knows it’s silly and even stupid. Still, it is very raw and real to her.

She called her dad to leave school early. He wasn’t happy when he learned the reason. She cried and cried and cried. She threw away her teen magazines. She took the poster down from her wall – the one covered in lipsticky kisses. She can’t stand to see them now. She regrets not going to their concert last year. One Direction just isn’t One Direction without Zayne.

Some of her friends are supportive. Some are dismissive.

And it’s all so ridiculous. But it’s where she is. And it’s real. And I will do my best to not belittle her but to help her through it. Because, believe it or not, I can’t bring myself to dismiss her pain. Even if it is “just” over a boy band.

So there’s my last several weeks in a nutshell.

We shall see how long it takes me to crack the next nut.

Until then, take care.

Epic Fail Redemption

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?”

No response.

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.

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.