“Mommy, is the tooth fairy real?”
Emma’s question from the back seat of the van startled me. One, because we were in a hurry, on the way to school before the late bell rang. Two, because I’d never really considered the possibility of having to answer this question.
Sure, I keep bracing myself for the inevitable day one of my children questions the reality of Santa Claus. I can still remember being crushed when I found out the truth in first grade. Because the revelation came so early in my childhood, I always thought I would do everything I could to keep my children believing for as long as possible.
But in that moment in the car, I froze. Could I flat out lie to my daughter?
Up until that point, I’d always used deflection as a way of dealing with questions I didn’t want to answer. Eli just asked me the other day if we could take five of his best friends to the beach with us next summer. He happily laid out his plan: where his friends would sit in the van, where they would sleep at the beach. Talking about it made him so happy, I couldn’t just dash his dreams; doing so was sure to bring a mountain of tears. So I simply nodded as he told me of his plan and I said, “That sounds exciting. We’ll see.” He’s still young enough that I am sure he’ll forget all about this and move on the something else in a few weeks. No harm done.
But deflection is not going to work on Emma. If I said something like “I don’t know if the tooth fairy is real, honey. What do you think?”, she would immediately see through it. I had to make a choice, and I had to do it in a split second, right as we pulled up to the school.
“Yes, honey. The tooth fairy is real.” I said with confidence.
Emma smiled at me, showing off the recent departure of her two front teeth.
It was a flat out lie. But if it keeps my daughter happy and innocent for a little longer, I am all for it.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," came out last month. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.