About a year ago, my 9-year-old son came downstairs early one morning with his money from the Tooth Fairy crumpled in his hand and announced he knew I was the Tooth Fairy because he was fake-sleeping the night before.
“I caught you, Mom! I had a feeling it was you who left the money under our pillow, so I stayed awake. I wanted to know the truth.”
He had asked me about it that night while I was tucking him and I lied, telling him she was real. My heart was only half in it. I was starting to lose my touch when it came to this crap. Kids are easier to manipulate when they are younger.
I knew I had crept in there a little early. I was exhausted and wanted to head to bed myself, so when I cracked his door and saw his sweet little face shining in the moonlight, he appeared to be sound asleep. I made my move, slipped the money under his pillow, and headed to bed.
As I laid there, I was thinking about how tiring this whole charade was getting. For over 12 years, I had tried to outdo myself every freaking holiday. It was my own fault. And this Tooth Fairy business, it was getting ridiculous. One year she left an entire coin collection for my oldest son. Really, all this exhaustion was self-induced. I had to stop.
So when my son made his announcement that day, I wanted to twerk on our kitchen island in my bathrobe. I wasn’t even that sad. This mother was done with this fucking masquerade! Good riddance to trying to outdo myself and so long to all this magical fairyland bullshit that is very unrealistic. Fuck off, all you Pinterest boards with great ways to surprise your kids during the holidays when you are already stretched out to the max. Guess what kids? It has all been one big fat lie and your mama is so damn tired from the trying too hard, she could throw up.
I decided then and there if the cat was out of the bag about the Tooth Fairy, I needed to come clean about all the other shenanigans too, and I did.
Really, they didn’t seem to care. Obviously, they had known for some time it was all fake and had just gone along with the game because they thought it made me happy. And it did, until I had to go and get all Buddy the Elf on everyone.
As magical as it has been and as much as I wanted to create this mystical childhood for my kids, I realized I had created that for them at one time, and it was okay to be done now. If they were old enough to stay awake to see if the Tooth Fairy was real, they were old enough to hear the truth. As they got older and smarter (damn them), it became harder and harder to pull things off like hiding the Elf, or trying to disguise my handwriting on the Santa letter, or buying different wrapping paper for the Santa gifts and hiding it away because God forbid they find the damn Santa paper!
Our definition of magic changes as we get older, and our kids are no exception. Right now, mine are at the ages where they can understand the magic in helping others. They appreciate what it means to give and think it is almost as fun as receiving. Almost.
Why, just the other night my daughter lost a molar, and asked my husband if he was going to leave money under her pillow. He told her that he would not be doing that, but the Tooth Fairy might. She responded by telling him she knew the Tooth Fairy was fake, but she still wanted her money. So instead of slipping money under her pillow, we handed her a few bucks and she said thank you. It was all out in the open — a clean, smooth transaction. She even threw the tooth away herself. We were honest; there was no hiding and sneaking. The days of lying about make believe characters are over in our house, and right now, that feels pretty fucking magical.
And just the other day, we were sitting enjoying bad fast food, talking and laughing about all the stunts I used to pull to reel my children into the land of make-believe fun, and they started asking me how I did it. They wanted to know where I hid the elf and the special Santa wrapping paper. They wanted in on all my inside secrets, so I told them.
And as I was teaching them how to become an expert on lying and giving away all my special hiding places, I saw two wide-eyed girls sitting behind us who looked to be about 2 years old listening to our whole conversation.
I stopped talking immediately and gave the mother the “No! I am so sorry look,” And she replied with, “Don’t worry about it, I don’t think they get what you are talking about. And by the way, I can not wait until this time comes for me. Please tell me I don’t have to do it until my kids are as old as your kids.”
So when the time comes to tell your kids that truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny and such (or if it already has), just be sure not to spew from the mouth about it in public, no matter how good it feels. Keep all that lying and manipulation shit inside your own four walls lest the children you reveal all the secrets to do not have a mother as cool as the one I met that day.