The other day, my seven-year-old daughter looked me in the eye and asked, in a lawyerly tone, “Is the Tooth Fairy real?”
Something about the directness of both her gaze and her question made me stop and, after years of tap dancing around the issue, answer her honestly. Her reply? “Finally, I get a straight answer out of you!” She then asked me why I had never told her the truth before. So we talked, in our way, about real and not real, about the importance of magical thinking, the power of our imaginations, and the beauty of believing. All questions that inevitably come up for families around the holidays.
Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy. They’re all cut from the same fantastical cloth. How was I so certain my daughter was ready to hear the unfiltered truth? I wasn’t. Even now I wonder, Did I do the right thing? And did I do it too soon?
I do know this. Somehow, in that moment, the lovely game of pretend we’d all been playing (including 10 PM scrambles to the ATM for fairy money and my ritualistic hoarding of human teeth) felt less like fun and more like…lying. It turns out she’s at the age when this shift happens for a lot of kids.