“Dad is the tooth fairy real?” My daughter asked me on the way to school. We have had glimpses of this conversation before, but I knew this day was coming. I have made it a practice to never lie to my daughter, but I have been very consistent in circling around the truth. “The tooth fairy is real if you believe she is real” I said. That has been my go to answer about the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and even leprechauns at the end of a rainbow.
Today she wasn’t going to take that for an answer. “What does that mean, dad?”
“It means exactly what I said, my dear. ” I said and smiled. “If you believe that there is a tooth fairy then to you there is. As soon as you stop believing, the tooth fairy goes away ”
“Well my friend in class said there’s no tooth fairy and that she caught her mom putting money under her pillow ” she very matter-of-factly said.
“Then she must not believe in the Tooth Fairy ” I quickly replied.
“Dad, tell me the truth.” She then exclaimed in a very stern and serious manner.
I tried again to reiterate what I said before about how the tooth fairy was only real if you believe she was. I wanted her to catch on her for own sake. I wanted her to be able to decide if she still wanted to believe in the Tooth Fairy anymore. I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, nor did I her to feel like I had led her astray. I told her that all the magical and mystical things in the world are only as true as you believe in your heart. I told her that it didn’t make them anymore or less true, and that belief is a very personal thing.
“That’s not a good enough answer, Dad.” she said as she continued. “I want to know who is right and who is wrong, is there a Tooth Fairy or not?” she said to me now with tears welling up in her eyes.
As much as I could see the following conversation could potentially break her heart, I wasn’t going to stop my practice of always telling her the truth right now. I braced myself as I worked my way through the next set of words. I started slowly, and prefaced the big let down with a question first.
“What if your friends are right and you are wrong? “I asked “would do you want me to tell you then? ”
She thought about it long and hard. That minute in the parking lot of her school must have felt like an eternity to her. “I don’t think so.” she finally stammered.
“Well, then I suggest if your friends bring up the tooth fairy again, you tell them you don’t want to talk about it.
She breathed a deep sigh of relief. The conversation was over for now. “Yeah” she said “that’s a good enough answer.”
I could see that she already knew the truth. I could tell by her eyes, but she just wasn’t ready to let go quite yet. I know that she is smart enough to figure out what the real truth was. Her classmates had told her just as much as her common sense did. Perhaps I could have just reassured her that the tooth fairy does fly around from room to room picking up teeth and leaving money. However, that’s not the relationship I would like to have with my daughter. She knows that she can ask me anything and I will always tell her the truth. That is our deal. I won’t ever lie to her, however that doesn’t mean that I have to be blunt, cold and tell her everything she wants to know minutes before her school bell rings.
The absolute truth of the matter is that the tooth fairy is just as real as you believe it is, and for today, we will leave it at that.