gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

Lying through their teeth

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We seem to lose teeth in spates in this house. Last year, the tooth fairy came four times in four days. Today, she is due back after a visit last night, with another tooth loose and looking like it could fall tomorrow. That’s what happens when you have a small age gap between children.


But it leads to the perplexing question of tooth fairies. And Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. All of whom we vehemently believe in in this house. And that’s what I’ve been thinking about today. When do we stop, and how?

In the car today, my son said, “Mommy, do you swear on your life that you are not the tooth fairy?”

I have previously told him that “swearing on lives” is a serious business.

“Yes,” I said, not lying. “I am definitely not a tooth fairy. I’m a mommy.” In my head I added, “Who puts money in your slipper when you lose a tooth.” No lies, but not quite the truth.

And what makes it more complicated is, because of a mixture of beliefs in our house, we are much more honest about religion. When the kids ask, “Is there a God?” the answer starts with, “Well, some people thing . . . and others think. . .” until the children’s eyes have glazed over and they are wondering what is on TV and whether they would be able to fly if they tied feathers to their arms.

One day, probably soon, my children are going to realise that I’m lying about the tooth fairy, Santa and the Easter Bunny. Well, I hope they are, because the alternative is a bit depressing.

And while I’m sure they will understand that I did it to make life magical, I can’t help thinking that deep down inside their trust in me will be a little bit damaged, a little bit less. And that breaks my heart.

Meantime, the tooth fairy is due tonight . . . so I’m off to find some glitter to sprinkle as fairy dust. Because if you’re going be lying to your children in the name of magic then dammit, you’d better make it magical.



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