My eight-year-old daughter lost a tooth yesterday. It fell out during gym class. There is a generous excitement bonus when a tooth is lost at school, but along with her delight at being that one tiny step closer to big, comes a very familiar dilemma for me.
When is it the right time to tell children that the Tooth Fairy is about as real as talking pigs and Prince Charming?
My daughters are eight, nine and ten-years-old (yes – very close, no – not on purpose). And they all still believe.
They believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and magic. I’m not sure how or why, for they all have friends at school who have been telling them otherwise for years. My eldest even had a pre-school friend who reveled in sharing her wisdom that Santa was ‘fake’ and parents were liars – when they were five years old!
I’ve always responded to questions about Santa and the Tooth Fairy’s existence with the tried and true – “If you believe in them then they are real.”
Was that a lie? I suppose, but I happily stuck with it without too much thought for a very long time. It did the trick. They were sufficiently satisfied with my answer and it’s kept my girls sweet, little and innocent for just a little longer in a world where Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are constantly nipping at their still baby soft heels.
Recently I decided that the time had come. Their commitment to fairy playgrounds, elves and rodents bearing chocolate had begun to make them look like fools, ripe for playground ridicule. My eldest was speeding towards puberty and she still believed in fairies. I wish it didn’t matter, but it did.
So, one opportune evening when my littlest had gone to bed, I gathered my two big girls and came clean about Phoebe, the Tooth Fairy who services our local area and has left them so many miniature, lavender-scented notes over the years.
Their reactions surprised me. Miss Ten said straight away, “I knew it!” Immediately followed by “But Santa is still real right?”
And Miss Nine, tears streaming down her face, said in the cutest possible way, “Can I still believe if I want to?”
Perhaps she was worried she wouldn’t get two dollars for her teeth anymore, perhaps she was clinging to her childhood in an age when it doesn’t last long enough. Either way, Phoebe visited Miss Eight last night and we are expecting Santa in December.
Kim Kind is a freelance journalist and mum to three pre-pubescent girls. Before having three babies in three years she worked in corporate communications.
When did you find out the truth about Santa and the Tooth Fairy ?