My daughter, Eva, lost her first tooth (finally) last night right before bedtime. She was so excited about the tooth, and she was even more excited for her first visit from the Tooth Fairy. She has already figured out that Santa Claus isn’t real (the dangers of first graders talking and comparing notes, apparently). But if her enthusiasm is any indicator, the Tooth Fairy is a completely credible character. I contemplated her enthusiasm over the Tooth Fairy, as well as her confident, easy acceptance that Santa Claus isn’t real. I contemplated whether I should be encouraging the Tooth Fairy lie, or if I should tell her the truth. She would be one step further than most of her classmates. She would also be one step closer to cynicism and past the age of innocence. My mother’s heart never wants her to grow up; I would prefer to just freeze her in time and keep her in the here and now where she is safe, sweet and only responsible for things like brushing her teeth and picking up her room. The thought of her even thinking about boys as cute…well, words can’t describe the feeling that grips my belly.
As I continued with my thoughts and waited for her to be sound asleep so the Tooth Fairy could make her switch, my thoughts progressed. Why do I, or any parent for that matter, allow these fictional characters to live in our child’s mind? I can’t speak collectively for parents everywhere, but I came to the conclusion that the reason I further the lie of these creatures like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny is to encourage her ability to believe in things not seen. I want her to believe in things like miracles. This thought brought me up short, though. Do I believe in miracles anymore? I certainly believe in things not seen, but miracles? Well, honestly, not so much. I’m the person who lives in a permanent world of pragmatism and realism. Is that such a bad thing? It has served me well over the last several years. Having realistic expectations in life has managed to protect me from some heartbreak and helped me deal with unavoidable heartbreak. Am I doing the right thing with Eva? Two things occurred to me:
1. My pragmatism might be a defense mechanism, and
2. living only in reality could really limit one’s dreams.
I hope that I can pass the important things on to her. Things like making plans and dreams and then working toward those dreams is something that every person needs and deserves. Believing in things like attaining lofty goals, or miracles, is a good thing.
Believing in miracles is something I need to start doing again.
So, the Tooth Fairy not only made the switch, but she also left a note for Eva. Hopefully, she dreams big, lofty dreams. Hopefully, I also teach her its important to work for those dreams. Hopefully, she also believes a miracle is possible in impossible situations.