Which pretends do I invest in?


The tooth fairy made her first visit to our home this week.

My daughter’s tooth came out at bedtime the other night and caught me unawares. She’s had a couple of loose teeth for a while, but I thought I had more time to get ready. I was going to make these tiny little fairy-sized notes which would, in my less-than-crafty hands, undoubtedly turn out looking like post-it notes from a nightmare. But I had a plan until that tooth popped out during story time.


So I wrote a letter (after stealing lines from some “Letters From The Tooth Fairy” templates I found online…because I’m an asshole), found a dollar in my husband’s wallet, and made it work.

This half-hearted attempt got me thinking about my general lack of skill when sharing those age-old children’s fables. There isn’t much of a method to the way I pick and choose which lies/magical childhood stories I tell them, and I’m kinda half-assed about all of it.

Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones:

Don't rely on your mother to learn about me. That's what cartoons in December and Costco in August  are for. (image via sxc)

Don’t rely on your mother to learn about me. That’s what cartoons in December and Costco in August are for. (image via sxc)

Santa: Oh hell yes. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love all of it — decorating, trees, lights, cocoa, and Santa. When I first talked to my kids about Santa, however, I found it a lot more difficult than I expected.

Child: “How does Santa get in our house?”

Me: “He slides down the chimney.”

Child: “How does he get back up?”

Me: “He jumps back up the chimney.”

Child: “But I saw in a book that he taps the side of his nose and then goes up the chimney.”

Me: “Oh. Well, sure…maybe he does that. No one really knows for sure because no one ever sees Santa.” (KA-ZAM! Nailed it.)

Child: “Then how do we know about him?”

Me: “Um, because Santa has been around for so long that everyone knows about him. And also, magic. Hey, who wants to watch a show?!”

Honestly. Who does that? (image via sxc)

Honestly. Who does that? (image via sxc)

The Easter Bunny: No. My family was never that into it when I was growing up, either. One Easter my mother went down to the local bodega, bought us some candy bars, and tossed them to us while we were watching cartoons. Aaaaaaaaaaaand there’s your Easter. So when it came to deciding whether or not to celebrate Easter with my kids, I had nothing pushing me to do it. Honestly, I don’t think I could pull it off even if I wanted to. I have no clue how I’d be able to be convincing when talking about an enormous rabbit that leaves eggs under the couch. I can picture the conversation now:

“Why does he do that Momma?”

“Because the Easter Bunny is a dick, sweetheart. We don’t hide eggs in people’s houses and then offer them candy if they find them. It’s not nice.”

Sooooo many questions. (image via groceryshopforfree.com)

Sooooo many questions. (image via groceryshopforfree.com)

The Tooth Fairy: Yeah. I guess. I mean, what else do you do when your kid loses a tooth? All of their friends have already told them about it, so it’s become gospel among the kindergarten set. And I am more than happy to do the whole Tooth Fairy jive, but, again, talking about it gets me confused.

Child: “But Mom, if the Tooth Fairy is so small, then how can she lift the tooth?”

Me: “Because she’s magic, honey. She uses magic.”

Child: “And how does she get under the pillow without getting hurt?”

Me: “…Sooo much magic. Hey, who wants a cookie?!”

I have found that “magic” tends to be my last ditch answer to everything. When they hit me with a question I can’t answer or don’t have the energy to come up with a good lie for, I just say, “because of magic,” and we’re all good. Because magic doesn’t need to explained; it can’t be explained. Magic is the soft, elastic ground that childhood walks on; it cushions and comforts and thrills. And I keep up those fictions for the same reason most parents do: we want our children to float gently for as long as possible before they look down and realize that there’s nothing but dirt and rock beneath them, and that’s all there ever was.

So I force myself to create fun lies and reasonable stories, even when the easiest thing to do would be to throw up my hands and say, “You got me, kid. Sorry.” But we have a trip to Disney World coming up next year, and I’m not sure how I’ll explain that though Santa is real, The Little Mermaid is just pretend.

I’ll have to go with either Gloria Steinem or magic.

Image via aLouCreations on Etsy

Image via aLouCreations on Etsy

Author: admin

Meredith likes to write the funny at her blog, Pile of Babies (http://www.pileofbabies.com).


  1. Absolutely cracking up!!!!! Last night I had the same kind of ‘magic’ conversation with Kate at bedtime about Santa. She was worried about someone sneaking into our house in the middle of the night, so I explained that we have special windows and doors that absolutely can’t be broken into. Then she asked someone could sneak in through the chimney, so I said OF COURSE NOT but then she brought up Santa. So of course that was when I pulled out the ‘magic’ card. :). I was CRACKED UP at your post!!!!

  2. Can I just say how much I love your blog? I came across it a few weeks ago. I mean, first kale, and now this. We had a big Santa fiasco last Christmas, as my daughter is getting to that age where she is questioning things a little too much, but I’m not ready for her to know the truth. It involved a very quickly devised but very elaborate plan to keep her believing via emails and a perfectly timed wireless signal loss. It was torturous for my husband and I…but it was blogging material gold! 🙂 And I think we bought one more year of believing in Santa.
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  3. This is cracking me up! Being a strong realist myself, I accidently almost killed magic in my child before I even knew what I was doing. I thought I was telling him truth. Turns out, I was taking away Santa. That is, until he pried it out of my dry, truth-telling hands. “Santa is too real! I saw him! He came to my school.” So, now, in Cameron’s world, there is no magic, except for Santa. And mommy has learned a lesson about nurturing magic in her child. Though, it’s kinda hard to go back.

    • Oh man. It’s hard to tell the lie, isn’t it? Especially when they’re going to come to you in a few years and say, “why did you lie to me?” and all I’ll be able to say is, “Uh…I dunno. Everyone else was doing it.”

  4. As usual love your writing. The Easter bunny is in fact a dick. And, although I was raised by strict Catholics, I’ve been erring on the side of pagan practices and celebrating the fertility of spring via chocolate and chocolate-peanut butter eggs when everyone else is talking about the resurrection. It makes sense so far. Till they turn 5. And go to school. And open their eyes. etc.

    • Thanks, Isis. Yeah, this will be their first Easter in school. I think there’s going to be a lot of, “well, in OTHER people’s families….”

  5. So funny! Loved this: “…Sooo much magic. Hey, who wants a cookie?!”

    The only thing worse than awkward conversations about pretends is awkward conversations about sex. That’s why I have a husband.

    When my son was in 3rd grade, I was on a business trip. I was traveling in a car with two other women when my phone rang. “I’ve slain the childhood innocence,” my husband said.

    “What?” I asked.

    “We were watching a Peter Gabriel music video,” my husband answered. “There were questions. There were answers. Since I was laying out the birds and bees, I thought I might as well ax Santa at the same time. Clean break.”
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  6. Good stuff. “Magic” is like the next step when your kids stop accepting “because I said so.”
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