“I wanted her to be real …”

13 Feb

Disclaimer: This post is a killer of magic and wonder. I only hope other curious little ones with the google machine don’t discover the truth from my words. I write this with hesitation because I’m fearful of disappointing any other children besides the two I am responsible for messing up. 

“I wanted her to be real,” Nia lamented to us at 3 a.m. She had just asked her daddy, “Are you the Tooth Fairy?”

Busted.

She saw him, let him make the exchange and then came to our bedroom to make sure she saw what she knew she saw. He answered her honestly and then asked her if she was sad.

“I just wanted her to be real.”

I was in the bathroom when the discovery happened and immediately went and cuddled in her twin bed with her when I heard about it. My little girl – growing up. I kissed her on her head and she snuggled me. Our middle of the night discussion then began.

I said I was sorry she was sad and that mommy and daddy just wanted her to experience some magic and wonder. I explained the Tooth Fairy is real through us and assured her that money for teeth will still happen while she sleeps – but let’s not tell Nate yet. She giggled with relief that she would still get the dollars and told me she wouldn’t reveal the secret to him or her friends because she didn’t want to ruin the magic for them. I let her know mommy and daddy went through it all too when we were little. I also shared more secrets and told her I kept her teeth. That made her giggle more and ask why.

“I couldn’t throw them away.”

“Where are they?”

“Oh, all over in hiding spots in my room.”

“But what if Nate finds one?”

“Well, I guess I’ll have to think of something. Kind of like mommy and daddy had to when the Tooth Fairy didn’t show up for your Friday night lost tooth. We felt so sad about that, Bean.”

“I still love you,” she assured me.

“I hope so!”

Giggles and hugs.

Luckily, she didn’t ask about any other magical characters in her life. I tried to stop the conversation before that happened though – plus, it was 3 in the morning. Andrew warned me before I went to her room, “Be careful not to tear down the entire fake person organization.” I’m sure she’s on to those as well and those questions will be coming. I think she’ll be ok with it all though. Before I left her room, I reflected, “I guess it was time. You’re almost double-digits.” She reasoned, “And that’s how many teeth I’ve lost. I’m now in the double-digits at 11.”

I think I cried more than she did.

Update: Later that night …

I cried more than she did – until later that night. She had the entire day to process that what she had believed for so long, wasn’t true. She told her teacher and cried. Her friends asked her what was wrong but she couldn’t tell them because she didn’t want to ruin anything for them. She had to wait all day and then some more because she couldn’t talk about it around her little brother.

She whispered to me as I dished dinner, “I’m just really sad about it. I really wanted her to be real.”

“I’m so sorry, sweetie.”

She then asked it. THE question. “What about Santa and the Easter Bunny? Are you and daddy them too?”

I paused and then mustered, “I’m not sure we should talk about this right now …”

Seeing her struggling still, I went over to her and asked, “Do you want them to be real?”

“Yes.”

“What if I tell you they aren’t?”

Immediate tears.

Nate then came to the table and we had to pause the conversation. After dinner, she told me, “I was thinking about it. Even if you and daddy are all those things, it’s ok because you are doing it out of love and because you want to do something nice for us.”

I hugged her but we had to leave the house then and I asked if she’d like to talk about it later with her daddy too. She wanted to and that’s when she really broke down.

She cried and cried as she leaned on her daddy’s shoulder. He told her about how disappointed he was when he found out and that he cried too. He told her we never meant to trick her in a mean way – that we were just trying to create a special thing for her to imagine. He said she may like to do the same for her children but she can decide that when she’s older. She asked again about Santa and the Easter Bunny. We danced around it but never really said one way or the other. It was too difficult and too much at once. Too much.

One thing that helped heal her heart was hearing Andrew talk about what he felt like when he learned. We also asked if she wanted to help us when it was time for Nate’s next Tooth Fairy visits. She really liked that idea but also worried about keeping the secret. She felt it was lie and didn’t want to lie. We talked about how I tell her things that a lot of other kids her age may not know (like what bad words mean or puberty things) but then I’ll add, “Now, don’t tell your friends because their parents may not be ready for them to know yet.” I said since she was ok keeping that a secret, maybe she could treat this the same way. That helped her but I know she will still be worried.

Thinking back on all of this, it really is her first big disappointment in life. There is something to be said for making it to almost 10 years old without major heartbreak. Andrew brought up an excellent point to her and she seemed to understand. He said, “We know this is so sad and hard to deal with but this also will teach you about how to handle disappointments and express your feelings in a healthy way. It isn’t good if you never learn how to let your feelings out or know how to get through situations that hurt you.”

It’s a tough lesson for all of us. I still struggle with it. Andrew and I both are now, knowing that we essentially set our child up for this disappointment. She tried to blame herself for waking up and “ruining it.” We tried to blame ourselves for ever starting it in the first place. We told her it wasn’t her fault at all – she told us it wasn’t ours. In fact, we asked her if she wishes she had never experienced the magic of the Tooth Fairy and she said no. She still wants it to be there.

So do we, sweetie.

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4 Responses to ““I wanted her to be real …””

  1. Adriana February 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Ugh! Love this one but it made me cry! Just celebrated my son’s 5th birthday. Makes me sad that one day (too soon) I’ll be having this similar conversation 😦

    • nikkival February 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

      It’s heartbreaking and so hard to know what to say. Sorry to make you cry!

  2. baddestmotherever February 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    oh, that’s a punch in the stomach! Vivi has her first wiggle tooth and the very thought makes me a little gaggy. I love Andrew’s “whole fake person organization!”

  3. Abo February 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Nia’s sweetness and innocence. Your and Andrew’s openness and honesty with your kids. It always amazes me…good people, those Valleses. I don’t know how I’ll ever decide how to handle the fake people organization!

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