Children have interesting theories about things they cannot explain. These theories make perfect sense to them until they discuss their ideas with another child. Two events happened this week to provide the most evocative conversation.
My daughter had been worrying two loose teeth for weeks and finally, they both came out on the same day. Whether she believes in the Tooth Fairy or not is a moot point. She believes in the money that she finds under her pillow. The whys and wherefores are not important.
My son, however, is all about method. All of the questions must be answered. He only has three baby teeth left in his mouth. The rest are in a box where he has saved them, going out of his way to be sure that the box could never be mistaken for being “under his pillow.” Not once was he willing to trade a tooth for money because he couldn’t explain the method. The thought of some strange mythical creature coming into his bedroom and rooting around under his pillow while he was sleeping gave him the creeps.
My daughter thought that anyone who was willing to give her money for something she would never use again was A-Okay in her book.
Since the Tooth Fairy that comes to our house always leaves a gold dollar coin for each tooth, the difference between the way my son and daughter feel about her is precisely 20 bucks. If that didn’t sway him, nothing would.
“It’s money!” my daughter would say, exasperated with him. “Who cares about used teeth?” “Yeah,” my son teased, “but what if we got a rogue fairy and he wanted more than our teeth? Maybe we’d wake up and our nose would be gone.”
My daughter huffed, “What is a Tooth Fairy going to do with a nose?”
The second event was a rainstorm blowing in a southeasterly direction last night. My son’s northwesterly-facing windows were being pummeled by wind and rain and he couldn’t sleep. He schlepped his blankets across the hall and slept on the floor in my daughter’s room.
When they woke up, my daughter found two gold coins under her pillow. My son was stunned. If he had known the Tooth Fairy was going to make an appearance in my daughter’s room that night, he would have put up with the wind and rain.
“How did the Tooth Fairy get past me sleeping on the floor without stepping on me?” “Duh-uh. She has wings,” my daughter said with just the right amount of arrogance one should have when speaking of fairies. “If she has wings - and I don’t think it’s a she – then he would have a six-foot wing span. That would cause some real serious turbulence in here. We would have woke up,” Mr. Logical said, and grammatical errors aside, he had a point. “Fairies are tiny, silly.” My daughter obviously had some pretty strong opinions about fairies. “How do you know? Have you ever seen one?” he challenged. “Yea-ah. Tinker Bell.” She sing-songed. “Tinker Bell’s not real!” Which was an interesting observation, I think. “Uh-huh!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!” “She lives in Neverland with a boy who never grows up! You call that real?” And that, of course, led to an even more stimulating discussion about whether Neverland exists. Tomorrow we’ll move on to whether a crocodile could actually swallow an alarm clock and if so, would it still work? By the time they are finished, every vestige of innocence will have been trampled upon. Ah, childhood!