Allow me to back up a bit.
When my first two children were small I was all over the Tooth Fairy thing. My husband and I decided we would not get suckered into the monetary aspect of the tradition so we exchanged a tooth for a single dollar and a foreign coin or two. The idea was a cute way to have a backstory ("Ooh, it looks like she was in Italy last night!") and inspire a conversation about a different country, it's music, food, language, etc. The coins were pretty cool; some had holes in the middle, some multicolored or even square shaped. My girls were inquisitive and would leave letters to the fairy, asking not about the exotic locales, but things like if she lived in a castle, and if she flew wearing a gown. I would reply on special stationery in teeny, tiny print (she is small, after all). I thought I was so clever and being excited for the experience, I never missed a tooth night. That is, until I had the second set of kids.
My boys are as loved and special to me as my girls. I'd like to make that clear. It's just I've gotten older and life has picked up from the four corners of my house and scattered itself as my daughters grew, had sleepovers, jobs, and dates. It's harder to remember everything. And the Tooth Fairy duties have slipped.
My nine year old lost a tooth last week while my husband and I were out. We weren't there for the announcement his tooth fell out as he ate popcorn. We weren't there to bear witness to the bloody aftermath of waded toilet paper stuck in his mouth. It was mentioned with a smile when we came home. Easy to forget.
And we did, even after I said "Don't let me forget about his tooth," five minutes before I crawled into bed and fell asleep.
"MOM! The Tooth Fairy didn't come!" he said the next morning with the saddest face. I knew I was responsible for that disappointment. He even had those huge puppy dog eyes like Puss' in Shrek when he's all innocent looking.
"Uh, maybe the holiday slowed her down. Try putting it under your pillow tonight." The whole time I'm saying this I'm thinking "I'm a loser, what a loser." So the tooth, wrapped in our protocol tin foil, went back under the pillow. We wrapped our dollar and coin in tin foil once we thought the coast was clear and high-fived after the covert mission was completed without a hitch. Yeah, we rock.
The next morning, the boy runs downstairs, I'm thinking to announce his renewed faith and satisfaction. Instead he bypasses my husband and me to run to the utility drawer where he pulls out the tin foil box. Triumphantly he exclaims, "I knew it! You're the Tooth Fairy! I cut the tin foil a special way and it's different now! Ha!"
Busted. Not only with being caught, but the loss of another innocent childhood belief. I know he's old enough, but still. A landmark has been passed. I told him he was now in The Club along with us and his sisters and it's a special duty to keep the sacred secrets. He seemed pleased with this passage.
He didn't ask about the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause and for that I'm thankful. I'm not ready to grow up quite yet after all.