On Sunday, Liam was thoroughly enjoying playing with his very loose front tooth, and took every opportunity to gross me out by clicking it around in his mouth. It was hanging by a thread, so he allowed Len to pull out, which he almost immediately regretted. He had lost the easy reaction-grabber from me, and it also felt different. I think I’ve mentioned before how this boy does not really like change?
He actually looks very different (I’ll share a photo as soon as I can get an operational camera). Len and I were both taken aback by how much older it makes him look. Can someone PLEASE slow this train down?!
So, after a little cry under the table, (Liam, not me) I coaxed him out to write a note to the Tooth Fairy. He asked her if he could keep his tooth, and still get some money. He sounded out the words, and carefully spaced his letters and words in neat rows. It’s the longest note I’ve ever seen him write, so it was an impressive effort.
We had dinner, bath time, stories, and bedtime. Len and I cleaned the kitchen, froze the seven litres of soup stock Len had made, made everyone’s lunches, signed Liam’s cahier de communication, got his skating gear ready, found the library books, got Meghan’s bag ready, finished folding two loads of laundry, and then finally fell into bed ourselves.
And we overlooked one very important little task.
Monday morning, I woke up with a start. Meghan was already up, which meant I wouldn’t have long before Liam was awake too. I slipped downstairs, grabbed a loonie and a twoonie from the laundry stash (I have a pile of coins there that come out of the washer), and slipped back up, only to find Liam awake and kneeling in his bed. He had his pillows pulled aside, and said with heartbreaking disappointment, “Mum! She didn’t come! I’ve looked all under my pillows, and there’s nothing there.”
I tried to slip the coins in under the note, but saw his eyes narrow onto my hand, and quickly pulled it back. I turned on the light, and said, “Maybe you just can’t see the money in the dark?” I put the coins under his duvet, and then asked, “What’s this under here?!” He looked me directly in the eye, and said, “Muuuum…I saw you put those there. I know you’re the Tooth Fairy.”
The game was up. I had no way out. I owned up, and told him in a whisper that yes, I am the Tooth Fairy. I told him that it’s a big grown up secret, and he’s in on it now, so he has to keep it. As I told him this, I could feel a little fear welling up inside, that maybe this honesty was about to ruin my favourite lie: Santa.
I made him promise not to tell Meghan, or the kids at school. I told him how a girl had made me cry in Grade One telling me that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real (when really, it was Santa she stole from me). He obviously empathized, and promised, even pinky-swore, he’d keep the secret. He said a boy at school had told him that the Tooth Fairy was really his parents. I wondered how much else this boy had said.
Then he climbed down from his bunk bed, ran into the bathroom, and said, “Meghan! I have to tell you something!!”
He said, “Meghan, I SAW the Tooth Fairy last night! And she has wings!”
He couldn’t stop himself there though. The story kept getting better and better. Next, he was telling her that “Actually, the Tooth Fairy? She took me with her to Fairy Land.”
Meghan looked at him, eyes alight, and said, “I know that is Wonderland. You went to Wonderland Liam?!”
He was just getting warmed up. He said, “Actually, Meghan, there’s a little door in Mum and Dad’s bedroom, and you can’t see it, but she took me through it.”
I stared at him, and when Meghan left the room, I said, “Liam, you have to be careful when you’re telling a lie, that it doesn’t get too big. If it gets too big, you might not be able to hold it together.”
He nodded, and left it at that.
So, last night at bedtime, he had a flyer (from Walmart of all places), and he was going through it with a pen and circling all the things he wanted. He doesn’t have very discriminating taste, because he had circled just about every item in the flyer. But at the end, he said, “Mum, I know that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, and neither is Santa. You and Daddy just go and buy presents and you put them under the tree.”
My heart sank. I wasn’t going down without a fight. Not on this one. So, I said, “But Liam, what would make you think that about Santa?” Lame, I know, but I wasn’t ready! I tried again with, “Of course, Santa is real. He is the most generous man in the world, and he really is magic.”
Liam looked me in the eye again, and this time, I saw trust. I felt a little guilty, but it’s all in the name of fun, right? I had no idea this was going to be happening so soon. I wasn’t prepared with answers, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for him to be too old for Santa. So, I said what I remember my Dad saying. I said, “Liam, if you don’t believe in Santa? Santa won’t come anymore.”
Well, that did the trick. He said, “Well then, I believe!”
I don’t think he really knows what to believe, but he certainly wants to, and this Christmas that’s going to have to be enough.