A few weeks ago Jade, our eldest, lost a tooth. When I came home from work she proudly presented it to me and told me all about the experience. Then followed the inevitable question. “Will the tooth fairy come to take it away and then give me money?”
Damn… tricky. As parents we have long ago decided that lying to our children is something we are not comfortable with. So what exactly was I to answer to that?
On the one hand I would love to give her some of that childhood magic, where everything is real and possible. A world where little fairies do come at night and put coins under your pillow as a payment for lost teeth. On the other hand I really don’t want to betray her trust. Especially not when she clearly told me to NOT sneak a coin under her pillow. She only wants it to be there if the tooth fairy put it.
Sometimes I wonder where this urge to tell our children stories has come from. Is it a remnant of that ancestral memory of humans sitting around a fire, trying to make sense of the dangerous world around them? Science has driven off most of these monsters or has given them a different place. But in a way children are still searching the dark for magical beings and explanations. And maybe we should allow them the joy of the quest and the satisfaction of the discovery. Because once you know something, it is hard to un-know it. So perhaps the lesson for me is that I should applaud Jade’s inner scientist. The fact that she wants to test reality by prohibiting me to cheat is an admirable attempt at placing things and accurately defining the world.
Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard to hand her made up magic but instead allow myself to see her make real magic happen.