My son lied and I loved it

“There is no such thing as monsters”. I guess that is where it all started. Somewhere along the line, “There’s no such thing as…” extended to magic and therefore fairies. And then Jeremy lost his first baby tooth. How do you explain to a child that doesn’t believe in monsters and fairies that tooth fairies exist?

It took some explaining until he was moderately convinced, but it didn’t last long. One day Jeremy told us he didn’t think the tooth fairy was real and he insisted that we confirm it. Over and over again he kept asking us. My husband and I had a difference of opinion on how we should manage Jeremy’s constant questioning. I felt bad about the idea of lying and I could see he needed more definitive answers, while my husband wanted to preserve the magic of childhood (both valid approaches).

Our combined anxiety finally got the better of my husband so he relented and allowed me to answer him honestly. Jeremy’s anxiety abated with an unequivocal answer and logical explanations but soon his mood turned to one of devastation. He was sad that he knew the truth and angry at me for telling him. He said “I wish I could stop knowing it”. It was a lose/lose situation.

We had decided to keep up the tooth fairy exercise for his younger brother’s (Damian’s) sake, something that Jeremy appreciated. One day, Jeremy told me he wanted to write a letter to the tooth fairy to thank the fairy for taking all his teeth. I said “But I thought you didn’t believe in fairies?” He said he knew that the tooth fairy was me but he still wanted to write the letter to me as ‘the tooth fairy’ and leave it under his pillow.

So in the middle of the night I took the note and replaced it with a one from the tooth fairy saying “You’re welcome, from the tooth fairy”. Upon the notes discovery, Jeremy grinned from ear to ear, he hadn’t expected me to play along with it to that extent.

Over the last week or so, a few of Damian’s teeth have started to wobble. We are all a bit excited for him because he has been waiting for so long to receive that much sought after gold coin. However, this morning over breakfast he asked the question “Mum, do you believe in the tooth fairy?” I froze. I knew it would just be a ‘white lie’ but he asked me with such innocent, trusting eyes and his question caught me by surprise.

One of my sisters, who has studied and worked in human resources, once told me that if someone asks you a question that you don’t want to answer, ask them why they want to know. So I said to Damian “Why did you ask me that?” It bought me some time while I tried to figure out a way to confirm the existence of the tooth fairy without lying. Then Jeremy chimes in with “Mum does believe in the tooth fairy! She told me that!” I nodded my head in agreement and fiercely avoided eye contact.

Damian then went on to explain that he doesn’t believe that fairies have a magic wand and gave his version of how he thought tooth fairies took care of the teeth, which involved a convoluted plot including other types of fairies. I must say it was very cute to hear my son, who plays Minecraft on his iPad and hates being called cute (or gorgeous, or angel or beautiful etc.) talk about the role of ‘wishing fairies’ in the whole process. Jeremy had knowingly and intentionally preserved Damian’s innocence for just a bit longer.

Later, I gave Jeremy a big hug and explained that I was so pleased that he understood my limitations and Damian’s needs and found a solution. I reiterated what I have told him many times that he is such a thoughtful, caring boy. He smiled, pleased with himself and hugged me back.

My boys love this song about Minecraft and because it makes me laugh, I’d thought I’d share it with you. It’s called ‘Don’t Mine at Night’ (click here).

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