The elf brings magic

Ri and I walked into her classroom on Monday morning and all of the kids were in a circle screaming at one another about what their “elf on a shelf” did the night before.

“My elf’s a girl and she took clothes out of my brother’s drawers!”

“My elf swung from one side of the room to the other side with my dad’s rope!”

Maria stood outside of the circle with her mouth opened just enough to form a tiny candy square and her eyes fixated above the kids as if she was watching their words floating in the air. She shifted her piercing blue eyes onto me.

“Mom, why don’t we have an elf?”

By Tuesday we had one: Christmas Elfie, Snowy Snowbell. A girl. I didn’t run out and buy one because everyone else had one and I needed to keep up with the Jones’. I bought one because I saw the magic and wonder in Ri’s eyes when the kids were talking about the elf. She believed. After last year’s trauma with St. Nick where she refused to believe in him and broke me down to where I had to admit it was dad and me who filled her stockings, I would have bought a continent to have her believe.

When we all got home Tuesday night, I placed our elf on the mantle and yelped “Guys, did you see what’s on our mantle?” They ran in the living room and Ri screamed and immediately belted out commands to Mario.

“Don’t touch the elf; she will lose her magical powers! Don’t bother her! Write down what you want for Christmas and lay it next to her!”

He listened intently. I told them that one of their friends’ elves must have told Santa to send an elf our way. I described to them how this elf would watch over us all day and head back to the North Pole at night to deliver a report to Santa. Their eyes bulged out towards the window imagining the elf’s travels to the North Pole. They each wrote up a list of desires: Maria, a pup, American Girl doll, a Barbie; Mario, a scooter, tic tac toe game, and a laser. They set it by the elf and we all went in the family room to play.

A half hour later, Jon rushed into the room and gasped “the elf is gone!” The kids bolted into the living room and he was out of sight. The front door was ajar.

“He must have headed back to the North Pole and taken your lists!”

Mario burst through the front door and stood on the porch looking into the black sky. Pointing to the North Star, he proclaimed “I see the elf riding towards Santa’s home!” Ri stood next to him and gazed up at the crystal star.


Jon moved the elf to the kitchen bookshelf that night and the next morning the kids ran downstairs screaming “the elf didn’t come back!” Jon explained that the elf may have landed somewhere else in the house upon his return from the North Pole. They opened a hall closet and found the green exercise ball shoved in it.

“Dad, the elf shoved your ball into the closet!”

Jon had shoved the ball in there on Thanksgiving to avoid someone tripping over it but he went with it. “Oh my! Where could that elf be?”

They finally found it in the kitchen. They did not touch it because they didn’t want it to lose its magic. They just yelled “We found Elfie! We found her! She’s back!”

Pure Magic.

Dad saves the day!

After that entire wrenching conversation about whether tooth fairies are real last night, I forgot to take Maria’s tooth from under her pillow and put money there instead. Nice job, Mary.

Jon and I were getting ready for work and Maria and Mario were sitting on the bed talking about the latest Turtleman episode. Maria shot up out of nowhere and yelled “I forgot to look under my pillow!”

My stomach sank to the basement. “Shit!” I mouthed to Jon. By that time, she had lifted her pillow only to find her tooth still laying there. She looked back at me quizzically and began sobbing. I went into reactive mode.

“Baby, it’s ok. I bet the tooth fairy heard our conversation last night and decided to wait to take your tooth until you really believed in her.”

“But mom, when I closed my eyes last night, I really believed in her. And she didn’t come.”

More sobs from her. More guilt from me.

Jon walked in the room. “Maria, this happened to me when I was little. I didn’t believe in the tooth fairy and she did t take my tooth. But when I began to believe, she came” Maria looked at him to see if he had on his straight face.He did.

She seemed to be turning a corner but then the sobs poured again. I hugged her and told her if she kept believing – even stronger than she did last night – I was sure the tooth fairy would come.

She stopped sobbing but laid in her bed pensive and melancholy. Jon asked her to come to him. I heard him tell her an additional fact: when the tooth fairy finally came to get his tooth the second night, he got even more money than he got with his other teeth.

She walked away with a huge smile on her face. Huge. She walked over to me and reiterated what dad told her. I reaffirmed that dad has told me that story, too so it had to be true. She smiled again and skipped into her room to get ready for horse riding lessons.

Jon saves the day. We are out an additional $5 but our girl has not lost faith in the tooth fairy. Job well done, dad.


Tell me the truth, is the tooth fairy real?

Maria lost her second tooth in two days.  She pulled and pulled at it in the bathroom while I cringed at the thought in the hallway putting up pictures of when she and Mario were babies.  She exclaimed 10 minutes after the start “My tooth is out!”  She had pulled out another one, blood and all.  She has no fear.

We went through the day hosting family for Father’s Day.  When everyone left at 10 pm, she asked where I put her tooth.  I had hidden it this time in a plastic bag behind the fridge because two days ago, we put her tooth in a plastic bag that Mario used to store his cheese and crackers.  It was only after he had eaten all of the cheese and crackers and thrown the bag away that we realized her tooth was in it.  When we pulled the bag out, there it sat next to a tiny remnant of american cheese.  Gotta love it.  I thought Mario would faint. 

She held her tooth and asked me to sit next to her at the table.  I sat down expecting her to ask me how much money I thought she would get from the tooth fairy.  Instead, the conversation went like this:

“Mom, you gave me money under my pillow and acted like the tooth fairy, didn’t you?”

“No, Ri, I do not put money under your pillow.”

“Mom, tell me the truth.”

“I am telling you the truth, darlin’!”

And then she glares at me and I feel like I am under the control of a lie detection machine.  This is the same glare she gave me when asking if St. Nick was real back at Christmas time.  The glare got me that time, and I admitted that me and dad were St. Nick.  But I refused after that time to ever let her get me again until she was much older.  I want her to believe in some things – Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy.  Why?  I guess because I like the thought of her believing in magical things and experiencing wonderment at the notion that she can put a tooth under her pillow and money appears the next morning. 

She continues, “Mom, I just have a belief that you give me the money and there is no tooth fairy. I just want the truth.”

Ok, so how many of you would admit at this point that it is you?  How many would continue to fib and say it’s the tooth fairy?

I thought back to a book we read a year ago by Jason Alexander called Dad, Are you the Tooth Fairy? We were walking around the used book store and Maria grabbed it off the shelf and asked me to read it.  We all plopped down on the floor and I began to read.  Much to my amazement, the dad admits that he is the tooth fairy!  But, he acts on behalf of all of the fairies and pixies that lived before him because the last fairy on Earth asked him to keep the magic going when she was gone.  Or something like that. 

I asked Maria if she remembered that book hoping that maybe she’d remember something that would help her process her dilemma.  To my surprise, she remembered the book better than I remembered it.  She explained to me that the dad was the tooth fairy because there were no more tooth fairies around and they asked him to deliver the money on their behalf.  Then she stared me down.  What to say now?!

I told her that I was not going to say anymore except that I always believed in magic and good things happening to people who opened up their hearts and imagination.  Surprisingly, she listened to me and then simply pondered my response without any retort.  When we went up to brush our teeth, she had a final thought for me. 

“Mom, I am trying hard to believe in the tooth fairy.  One side of my brain keeps telling me there is a tooth fairy but the other side keeps telling me it’s you and dad. I just don’t know what to think.” 

Poor girl.  She was about to move into cuckoo land if I didn’t tell her the truth.  So did I? 

Yes and no.  I just reaffirmed that she had to believe what she wanted to believe – and have faith that this world was good and magical and full of wonder no matter what.  I gave her a big hug and kiss and led her in her room to put on her pj’s.  She placed her tooth under her pillow and looked over at me.  I stared back at her.  She stared back at me. And, neither of us blinked.