parenting

The tooth fairy

After what’s seemed like months of wriggliness, Joe has finally lost one of his top teeth.

Unlike Hattie, he’s actually got enough room for a big tooth to grow through (Hattie’s already lost her top two teeth, but her face is so little that her big teeth have started growing in crooked – the orthodontist savings account starts now…), and he looks adorable with his gappy smile.

The imminent departure of this tooth led to a dinner time conversation a couple of nights ago: the ‘Some Kids at School Say Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy Aren’t Real’ conversation. Other kids can be such a buzzkill! But my kids still want to believe, so I dredged up a script from the deepest recesses of my memory – some wise advice I remember reading before I’d had children.

Here’s what I said: “Oh, it’s such a shame that they don’t believe! When kids stop believing in things like that their parents have to pretend to be Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy – but it’s never quite as good as the real thing”.

The kids were totally satisfied with this explanation, and remain in the Believer camp. So, if your kids are getting reluctantly swayed by worldly naysayers, I recommend trying this approach. Other good supporting arguments for the intricacies of Father Christmas, in particular, is that the mall Father Christmases are obviously not THE Father Christmas – they’re his helpers, because he’s busy at the North Pole; and all the birds work for Father Christmas and keep an eye on kids to note their good behaviour and listen out for clues about what present they’d like.

I know that some parents are dead against any form of ‘lying’ to their children, and choose not to differentiate between harmless fancy that makes kids happy and creates some magic in childhood, and more substantial lies, like – I don’t know – “of course you’re not adopted”, or “I didn’t eat your chocolate”.

Sometimes this approach comes from a concern for equity, as in “I don’t want little Johnny to get presents from ‘Father Christmas’ that his less fortunate friends down the road don’t get”. I do appreciate this consideration, although the friends down the roads are going to get less than little Johnny regardless of whether Father Christmas or little Johnny’s parents have signed the gift tag. In our house Father Christmas only tends to bring one proper present.

I’ve heard other parents talk about how the don’t want Father Christmas getting the credit for presents they’ve bought their kids. I struggle to relate to an adult who needs positive feedback to such an extent that they’ll even begrudge Father Christmas getting props for something. Given that kids are not always lavish with their positive feedback, I fear that life must be challenging for this kind of parent. If you know one, tell them they’re doing a good job – I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

If you really don’t want to talk about the Tooth Fairy or Father Christmas then that’s fine – to each their own – but my view is that kids have their entire adult lives to deal with stark realities, and if I can do something to make life wondrous for my two, I’m going to do it for as long as they’ll let me. Joe woke up this morning to find a $2 coin and a note from the Tooth Fairy under his pillow, and he was stoked. And if your kid could avoid being the one who shatters my kids’ illusions, that would be much appreciated!

2 thoughts on “The tooth fairy

  1. I’m in the “can’t be bothered keeping up an illusion and don’t like flat out lying to my kids” camp. Instead I gave non-committal replies like “well what do you think?” to questions about such things. However if the kids really want to believe they will anyway. My son worked out the Father Christmas wasn’t real after I failed to give a non-committal reply to the question “Is Rudolf real” (oops). But then when I did the videos from Santa thing that was going around he turned around and told me I had lied to him and that Santa was real so there. But I clearly tell my kids they are not to burst anyone else’s bubble on these things.

    1. I think you’re dead right – my kids seem to love everything like this and are very willing to believe it – they’re also the kind of kids who’ve never gone hunting for hidden presents, which makes it easier to keep the illusion going. It’ll be interested to see how long this lasts. Recently Joe has been very quick to dismiss other flights of fancy as not being real, but he seems to 100% believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy still!

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