• Clare

In which the Tooth Fairy gets busted

Updated: May 3, 2020

Last night I made an epic parenting fail! My Daughter woke up as I was reaching under her pillow to retrieve her tooth and demanded to know what on earth I thought I was doing...

I've often wondered if it's morally right to tell our children lies. I don't mean minor, unscrupulous lies like "If you don't go to sleep now, the Bogey Man will come and get you" or "If you sit there quietly, you can have an extra £1 pocket money this week" or "yes, of course I love your painting of a dinosaur/football boot/continent" (what the hell is that?") I mean the deceitful, dishonest, unethical lies about the Tooth Fairy, magic tricks, Father Christmas and Disney films. We spend a lot of time trying to instill honesty in our children. I often find myself saying to my kids "I won't be cross at you, I just want you to tell me the truth". Even this is a bit of an untruth, as how can you possibly keep your cool when they've been styling each others hair with your Estee Lauder face cream!

Obviosuly, there is a lot of joy to be had and, indeed, innocence maintained by telling innoculous lies to children. There is so much magic and enjoyment for parents and children alike on Christmas morning, when they come downstairs and find presents under the tree, flour footprints around the fireplace and stockings bursting to the brim. (Both my kids refuse to have their stockings at the end of their beds, or even inside their bedrooms, as they don't like the thought of an unknown man creeping into their rooms in the middle of the night while they're asleep. At least the stranger danger awareness is working!) But where do we draw the line? Why is the lie about the Tooth Fairy deemed acceptable?

The Tooth Fairy has been very busy in our house this week. First my 7 year old Son lost one of his top front teeth. This is considered to be one of the "major" teeth by him, as the gap is clearly visible each time he opens his mouth and he can proudly show off "the gap" off to all and sundry. Unfortunately "all and sundry" happens to be his Mum, Dad and Sister at the moment, due to the Coronavirus Lockdown. The Grandparents, Cousins, Auntie and Uncle have all received an update and photo of his toothy grin via Messenger at his insistance. A few days later my Daughter lost one of her premolars. Now, this is a big deal, as she's already had to endure a lot regarding her teeth, even at her age. When she was 7, she suffered with recurring tonsillitis. If memory serves me correctly, she had it seven times in one year. Apparently, this is not considered recurring enough to warrant having her tonsils out (and in the long run, this proved to be true, as she hasn't had a single bout of it after that time), but it did result in a lot of antibiotics. What we weren't made aware of, is the fact that if antibiotics are used frequently at a time when teeth are developing under the gums, it results in Hypomineralisation - a condition where the enamel doesn't form properly on the teeth, leaving them extremely brittle and unprotected. As a result, she's had four adult teeth removed under general anaesthetic, four baby teeth crowned (Your Majesty) and lots of fillings. So she is understandably quite nervous when a tooth becomes wobbly.

For a few weeks, my Daughter had been complaining of a wobbly tooth. We kept trying to persuade her to gently wobble it in order to receive a visit from the Tooth Fairy, but she was very reluctant to do that. She will leave teeth wobbly in her mouth until they are absolutely hanging on by a thread, begging to be released from their gummy shackles. As it happened, the tooth in question came out in a Mars Bar, so we didn't have to endure weeks of anticipation and worry on her part that she might swallow it whilst she was sleeping. We made a little trip to the bathroom to wash off the muck. (With the plug in! I've made that mistake before!) My stomach turning and trying not to gag at the sight of her bloody little tooth, mixed with caramel, saliva and chocolate. (Really! Why must children be so revolting?)

The tooth was wrapped in tissue and left on the windowsill in the kitchen for the rest of the day so that we wouldn't loose it before bedtime. I'd lost count of the number of times it was unwrapped and rewrapped, just so that the kids could make another thorough examination of the tooth and it's remaining contents. At bedtime it was placed under the pillow, in the centre. I persuaded my Daughter to move it neared to the edge of the pillow, because the Tooth fairy is only small and won't be able to reach back that far without getting crushed under her giant head! At this point she confronts me unexpectedly: "Mummy, are you sure the Tooth Fairy is real and it's not just you that's putting the money under my pillow?" To which I gasp and dramatically clamp my hand over her mouth. "Sssshhhh, she's listening right now to find out whether you're asleep yet or not. Of course it's not me. Why would I put money under your pillow when that's her job? I wouldn't dream of taking that away from her in these times of economic uncertainty. Plus, I don't have time to come up in the middle of the night to fiddle around under your pillow. I've got far too many Mummy jobs to be carrying on with downstairs (watching telly in peace, drinking wine and eating your easter eggs without your knowledge) and how would I manage it without waking you?"

This is where the problem lies. My Daughter is an incredibly light sleeper! My son wouldn't wake up in a hurricane! I can stomp into his room, making as much noise as I like; singing at the top of my voice, or re-enacting a particularly brutal murder seen from Killing Eve involving a machete and he wouldn't even stir. My Daughter, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of fish. Her converted bedroom is up in the loft and the minute I place my foot on the bottom stair, she opens her eyes. If, by some miracle, I make it all the way to the top of the stairs and into her room, I will inevitably breath too loudly, or a whisp of my hair will fall from behind my ear, thus creating a slight breeze across her face and she'll sit bolt upright, demanding to know why I'm disturbing her.

Following a lengthly discussion downstairs with my Husband about who would partake in this challenge, I reluctantly agreed that it was my turn. (He'd taken the bins out earlier). As I approached the landing, I turned the light off and removed my slippers, lest the small amount of fabric between my feet and the floor should impact on my ability to be nimble. I crept up the stairs to her room, at a rate of one per 30 seconds and stood triumphantly at the top, holding my breath and trying to see if she was in a relatively deep sleep. After three minutes of trying to determind whether or not she was actually breathing, I realising that, if she wasn't breathing, I'd left it far too long to revive her anyway and decided it was time to make my approach.

I tiptoed towards her bed like a cat sneaking up on a bird. The phrase "softly, softly, catchee monkey" running through my mind. I breathed an inaudable sigh of relief when I eventually reached her bedside. Then crouched down, my knee and ankle clicking loudly thanks to early onset arthiritis; careful not to exhale as I gently slid my hand under her pillow. Suddenly she's awake, sitting bolt upright and staring at me accussingly. "Mummy! What an earth are you doing?" I faulter. "Err, just checking whether the Tooth Fairy has been yet, which she hasn't, so I guess I'll go back downstairs and see you in the morning. Good night...Love you...Don't let the bed bugs bite... (Sheepish smile and hasty retreat down the stairs). Bugger, bugger, bugger! That was about as convincing as my performance in the Year 2 nativity as 3rd Shepherd! Needless to say, we didn't discuss the night's events at breakfast the following morning. We just conceded that she was deeply disappointed in my antics and I had made yet another epic fail in my role as a parent...

Have you had any recent parenting fails? If so, leave me a comment in the section below.

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