Last Friday night, the wifey and I spent the evening with some friends of mine from high school. This is unusual enough to warrant special mention. I have only seen high school friends a handful of times in the last 17 years – Facebook has made it easier to stay in contact, but it remains rare that I actually see anyone in person. So it was very nice to spend the evening with Abbie, her husband, and Kristina, reminiscing about wild times (that Abbie has mostly forgotten), danger at graduation parties, and ex-girlfriends/co-captains that terrified us back in the day…
We had a good time; in fact, probably too good of a time. We stayed out past midnight (gasp!), leaving our dynamic duo of daughters at home with my mom. Now, back in the days when I last hung out with these folks, coming home *past curfew* was cause for concern. I would walk into the house, and all the lights would be on, and the recliner in the living room would be facing away from me. Then, the chair would begin its inexorable turn towards the light. My mom, like the Emperor in Star Wars, was awaiting my arrival. This was followed by 1) the guilt trip (don’t you know how much I worry?) or 2) the threat (THIS IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN!) or 3) the shaming (I’m so disappointed in you OR I’m ashamed to call you my son!).
But now I’m 34. Certainly there was no reason to be concerned… right?
I got the first text at 10ish. “We’re going to bed!” The next one rolled in at quarter to twelve. “Are you still there?” We texted before leaving Abbie’s crib – “We’re on our way!” Thank God texting didn’t exist when I was in high school – just those giant grey car phones “to be used only in an emergency” because “roaming charges” were so expensive…
With that, wifey got a new text from my mom.
“Reagan lost another tooth tonight. She told me I couldn’t tell you. She has it underneath 3 pillows, and she’s sleeping on the floor. She said this time she is going to find out FOR REAL if there is a tooth fairy.”
For the uninitiated, my daughter has been attempting to figure out the truth behind the mystical beings that visit us from time-to-time, as I detailed in a blog a few months ago. Ever vigilant, she saw an opportunity and took it, wiggling a barely loose tooth until it came out just so she could spring her trap. Under three pillows, with her massive noggin on top? We didn’t stand a chance.
When we arrived home, I did feel a little trepidation – what if my mom was in the Emperor’s chair again? Sure enough, she was sitting in the living room, in the recliner, waiting… but it wasn’t facing away from us, and she couldn’t do her patented slow spin. Funny how those feelings can come rushing back…
But there were more important issues at hand…
I immediately surged into motion. A crisp dollar bill in hand, I crept up the stairs to the guest room, where the girls were to be sleeping with grandma. Sure enough, Reagan was tucked into a small space on the floor, head resting on a mountain of pillows. I slithered onto the guest bed, and snaked my hand down underneath the pile. As I did so, Reagan rolled over and opened her eyes…
Good Lord, what should I do? Here I am, half hanging off the bed, arm underneath the pillow, cash still in hand, tooth still out of reach. Was it Game Over? Had the magical lies been discovered? My mind was ablaze as I looked into my daughter’s sweet blue eyes.
“Oh, hi daddy,” she said groggily.
“Hey baby,” I whispered. “I just wanted to give you a hug before I went to sleep.”
“I love you, daddy! You’re the best daddy!” she whispered as she drifted off again.
Having nearly been caught, I decided to delay any further attempts at the tooth until such time as she fell more deeply asleep. I went downstairs, admitted my failure, and talked with my mom and the wifey for a time. Then, my mom said she needed to get to bed. This is understandable. I mean, she’s almost a senior citizen at this point – what the heck is she doing up at 1:00 am? So wifey decided to try her hand at tooth snatching. A few minutes later she flounced into the kitchen, a smug smile on her face and a tooth in her hand. Oh how I hate losing to the wifey…
Anyway, our custom is to set the tooth on the stove for “mama” to find the next morning. What, you’ve never heard of that before? It’s an extra service available through the Fairy Bureau so that mothers can keep their children’s discarded bones. The fairy drops off the dollar then drops the tooth off in the kitchen on the way out. That’s just the way it is in our household.
So the next morning, Reagan showed up in our bedroom clutching a dollar, and all seemed right with the world. The parents come through in the clutch yet again. But then, I went out into the living room and noticed that Reagan was very subdued. “What’s wrong, bud?” I asked as I plopped down next to her on the couch.
“Well, I don’t think the tooth fairy is real.”
“How can you say that? You just got your dollar!”
“Well, I got my dollar, but the tooth isn’t sitting on the stove. The tooth fairy ALWAYS leaves the tooth on the stove!”
My head whipped around towards the kitchen. “I’m sure the tooth is…” Not on the stove! But I had watched wifey put it there! Where had it gone?
“Well, I’m sure it’s somewhere, baby. Why don’t you go upstairs and do your chores before we go out for the day?”
I ran into our bedroom. “Didn’t you put the tooth on the stove?” I asked the wifey, out of breath.
“Yes, of course.”
“It’s not there!”
“What? I put it there!”
“I’ll go ask my mom,” I replied, feeling time slipping away.
At this point, I found my mother sitting in the recliner in the living room. “Did you find Reagan’s tooth?”
She laughed. “Yes, after all that, you guys left it on the stove! I took it and hid it so Reagan wouldn’t know you were the tooth fairy.”
It sucks when your lies are so complicated you get ensnared in the web…
After explaining my mother’s faux pas to her, she felt terrible… which made me feel bad – it’s not like she knew our version of the tooth fairy story. She gave me the tooth, and I had to act fast – before Reagan came back downstairs. But I couldn’t just put it on the stove – she already knew it wasn’t there. It would seem too odd if it had shown up somewhere else – that’s not the tooth fairy’s m.o. What to do?
As desperation started to set in, I noticed the small space between the stove and the refrigerator. Could this work? I tried to tuck the tooth (wrapped in paper towel) into the space between the two – just a bit too tight. I grabbed the stove and shifted it ever so slightly to the left. The paper towel fell to the floor betwixt the appliances. The tooth was near the stove – clearly some sort of accident had befallen it and it had slipped down into the crack. This was some quality work on my part.
As a team, we set Reagan to finding it. I hid it, Grandma told Reagan she didn’t have it and she should look around some more, and wifey guided her around the kitchen and told her to look on the floor around the kitchen to see if it had fallen. Eventually she found it next to the stove, and seemed placated. But I could still see the wheels turning behind those shrewd eyes… she’s very close to catching us, and she knows it.
So the legend of the tooth fairy lives on in our household. But she’s getting a bit too clever. And only the Good Lord knows what our parents will do next – between wifey’s dad and the Santa Claus fiasco and my mom and the missing tooth, its getting exhausting!
But the magic remains for another day. How long can we keep it going?