WTF. Couldn’t y’all have warned me (or maybe you did and I didn’t listen)? I was so smug. It felt like a really sneaky parenting initiation ritual. I’d prepared and was ready months ahead of time. I had the special pillow. I had the golden coins. The Tooth Fairy is only 3 inches tall with a tutu, wings and a dusting of glitter. I figured I could totally take her. For six years, I’d taken on Santa and the Easter Bunny and had come out swinging (if a little tired) every time.
Being Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy is like being able to visit only the highlight reel of childhood. The adult gets transported to a time when magic was real and the world and possibilities were infinite. When Santa or the Easter Bunny come, the joy in the kids’ faces jumps directly into my heart and washes over me like fairy dust.
The fatalist in me counts down the opportunities, “If by chance he believes until he is 12 years old, we’ve only got 6 more Christmases. He’s so analytical though, we’ll be good to make until he is 10. That’s only 4 more Easter Bunnies!” Then I start tearing up and try to shore myself up by denouncing the holidays as materialistic or scrounging for the bag of Dove chocolates with placating messages on them.
Evans placed his tooth in the pocket of this little tooth fairy pillow that seemed like a good mom idea. As soon as Evans put the tooth in the pouch, he put his hand right back in there to make sure the pocket wasn’t a black hole directly linked to the Tooth Fairy’s lair. I hadn’t paid for that feature on Amazon Prime, but he started screeching that the tooth was missing from the pillow. Well it wasn’t, but it took some digging around to find it because baby teeth are the size of a piece of lint in your blue jean pocket.
I was beginning to get nervous. Their entire childhood of make-believe, fun, happiness, magic and the joy of life are riding on me not screwing this up. Not to mention all the other parents that would be pissed at me if Evans went to school the next day and ruined their magic.
I do my nightly chores of unpacking backpacks, scrolling through Instagram, cleaning up dinner, scrolling through Facebook, switching out the laundry, finding the best lighting for Snapchat selfies and wiping down the counters.
Seemed like the kids are probably in REM sleep by now. And I’ve scrolled through enough Facebook that seeing Jessica’s inspirational quote meme for the third time passive aggressively aimed at her mother-in-law is getting boring.
10:37 pm: Tiptoe, tiptoe, COUGH, COUGH, heavy breathing, HACK cough, heaving mouth breathing, COUGH HACK, backwards tiptoe, tiptoe.
Fail. I crept in. My 14 year old hound dog who I suspect is currently decomposing from the inside out came too, with her funeral bagpipes going. She’s got a bad leg, arthritis, a misfiring thyroid, an enlarged heart, the cough of a two pack a day smoker, and apparently a dying wish to wear a tutu and glitter wings as the Tooth Fairy’s side kick.
11:03 pm: I hear deep, slow breathing from Evans’s room. I take some deep breaths, readjust the gold coins in my hand so they don’t jingle and give the dog a stern order not to cough or breathe. I get up on my toes and creep in. Tiptoe, tiptoe, CLICK CLICK CLICK CLUMP, tiptoe, tiptoe, CLICK CLICK CLICK CLUMP, wheeze, wheeze.
Fail. Knees pop up under the covers. Double fail. I scream at the dog and threaten to take away her wings. She hounddog hangs her head and hides under the table. Now I feel guilty because she can’t help her toenails are two inches long, since I don’t bother to trim them. The mom contract I signed only includes clipping 60 nails. The kids’ and my hands and feet use up that allocation. (Off topic, I think there should be hazard pay for trimming nails on children under 5 years old.) I head to the pantry to medicate with chocolate and wait for the rhythmic breathing to begin again.
11:42 pm: Deep breaths, gold coins in my hot hand, on tiptoes. Dog has passed out. This is it. Let the magic begin. I’m so excited as I think about his little face lighting up in the morning when the tooth has disappeared and the money has appeared. I can already see the twinkle and joy in his eyes. My eyes are getting heavy, so I’m also imagining crawling into my bed and dreaming fairy dreams.
Fail. I get all the way up to the bed and he is hugging the tooth fairy pillow to his chest with his arms wrapped around it like an octopus. I start to worry he’s grown a couple new sets of arms.
11:46 pm: I regroup. Give myself a pep talk that I’m agile enough, stealth enough and dammit people like me.
11:48 pm: Tiptoe in, reach towards the pillow and WHAWWWW! WHAWW MAMA!? MAMA?! AHHHHHHHH MAMA!!!!
Fail. Three year old little sister Pearlie who’d been in Evans’s bed is up. No worries, I think. I’ll put her in my bed and get her back to sleep and then I’ve actually removed a booby trap for the big switcheroo.
11:53 pm: WHAWWWW! WHAWW heave, AHHHHHHHH, WHAWWWW
11:58 pm: WHAWWWW! WHAWW heave, AHHHHHHHH, WHAWWWW
12:07 am: Realization that this is one of those epic, overtired toddler meltdowns. Why? Why? Why? What a cruel joke that when they are overtired, they sleep even less. Sleep begets more sleep makes zero rational sense.
12:16 am: WHAWWWW! WHAWW heave, AHHHHHHHH, WHAWWWW
12:23 am: WHAWWWW! WHAWW heave, AHHHHHHHH, WHAWWWW
12:27 am: Text to my Ex: “If you ever don’t get her a nap for 3 days in a row again, I swear to god I will send DHR to your house for violation of nap agreement.”
12:45 am: Pearlie is asleep. Let’s be real, she passed out stone cold toddler screaming drunk.
12:51 am: I’m considering pouring myself a glass of sherry, but my head already hurts. More chocolate.
12:53 am: Realize my oversight, I failed to note a major difference between Santa or the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. Santa and the Easter Bunny work while the child sleeps. The Tooth Fairy takes that and double downs it by working UNDER a sleeping child.
12:56 am: Sending the text and eating the chocolate has calmed me enough that I feel I can manage the switch of the tooth that is smaller than a baby fingernail clipping (our fingernails may be a little long–my contract didn’t specify how often I had to trim them).
12:57 am: I get to the pillow without any movements from Evans. I’m not entirely sure he is actually asleep because he’d told me how he likes to “fake sleep” these days, but I’ve got a now or never mindset at this point.
12:58 am: DONE!
12:59 am: Wait. What am I supposed to do with the tooth?
1:01 am: Ziploc and sock drawer. That’s where everything important goes right?
1:07 am: In bed, tired, but still looking forward to seeing him in the morning.
1:15 am: Can’t sleep
1:24 am: Can’t sleep.
1:28 am: How much caffeine does chocolate have in it?
1:29 am: Research caffeine and chocolate on my phone.
1:32 am: Damn how much chocolate did I eat?
1:33 am: That may have been 2 Venti Starbucks worth of chocolate.
1:37 am: Readjust my pillow.
1:40 am: Put on my fuzzy bunny socks.
1:44 am: Pee.
1:50 am: Get some water.
2:02 am: Ahhhhhhhh comfy.
2:03 am: Hear door open.
2:04 am: Evans appears groggily clutching the Tooth Fairy Pillow.
2:05 am: He hears it jingle and his eyes light up and there is magic. Except he was really hoping for $7 because that’s how much he needed to buy the Pokeman cards that he wanted, but he decides it’s okay because he can combine the tooth fairy money with his allowance coming Saturday and it will be just right. Mad middle of the night math skills Kiddo.
2:07 am: I’m still not convinced he doesn’t know it was me, but I realize we see and believe what we want to and he wants to see and believe in magic and the Tooth Fairy and so do I.
2:13 am: All three of us, and the tooth fairy pillow, and the coins, snuggle together dreaming of wings and glitter and magic.