As I type this, my mental to-do list is running through my head in a constant stream, like those fast-rolling credits that fly past your eyes at the end of syndicated TV shows. There are chocolate-covered pretzels to dip, about 90 of them or so (hahahaSOB), and errands to run, and three Halloween parties to either plan or attend (costumes! gifts! decorations, oh my!) in the next couple of days. There are emails between other homeroom moms that I am sort of keeping track of through my phone. My house is a disaster. The laundry is a disaster. (My hair is still a disaster.) I’m totally in the zone with this book I’m working on (it’s either crap or awesome. In another couple of thousand words I’ll send the first chapters to my agent. It’s taken me months to get to this point, a mere 15,000 words of awesome. Or crap. It could go either way. Months and months of dancing around this new book, and Agent Katie will be able to tell me in an instant if she’s still glad she signed me on or if I should just pack away my laptop and scuttle away to join the circus). There are bills to pay and a checkbook to balance and so. much. STUFF. to do. Some days are better than others, I know. This week has been kind of terrible, in a totally first-world-problems sort of way. Not complaining. Actually, yes, I am. I’m totally complaining. The past couple of weeks have been a mess of HARD.
But this morning, something kind of cool happened. See, a few weeks ago, Saoirse lost one of her teeth while I was away at a writer’s conference. Due to reasons involving a high-maintenance puppy and an incredibly un-independent two-year-old, the tooth fairy didn’t make it to the house that night (did I handle it well, being far away and discovering that the tooth fairy didn’t come and my daughter’s heart was possibly broken, ruining her trust in imaginary benevolence ever again? I’ll let you guess), though everything got sorted and the fairy made her appearance the next evening. We’d all moved on until yesterday, when Saoirse lost yet another tooth (the kid looks like a jack o’ lantern herself. Happy Halloween!). When she went to bed last night, I discovered that she’d added a note to go along with the tooth tucked away under her pillow. “Dear tooth fairy,” it said. “You are great but why last time you did not come?”
My mama heart broke all over again, because that’s what mamas do. Or at least hyper-sensitive ones like yours truly. So the tooth fairy did what the tooth fairy has never done before, and wrote the first-born a note. I will not admit that I may have dabbed frosted eye shadow on the paper to create oh-so-subtle fairy pixie dust, because then you’d think I was weird. So I won’t tell you about that part. Shhh. You don’t know. I asked David if he thought Saoirse would buy it, this fairy-note-writing, and he was immediately like, “Nope.” But then I was all, “But I should do it anyway, right?” And he was all, “Yep.” So a new note went back under the pillow.
See, here’s the thing. Saoirse is seven and a half. And like many seven-and-a-half-year-olds, she’s a smart thing. I sometimes stop to wonder if she really does believe in all this Santa/Tooth Fairy/Scary Large Bunny That Has Nothing to Do with Easter mumbo-jumbo, but then I remember my own childhood, and wanting so desperately to hold on to the magic of believing that I did so far beyond the time my brain told me that it was actually kind of creepy that a dirty, large man in a furry red outfit could break into my house once a year and nobody blinked an eye. So it makes sense that my daughter–smart but with an imagination that reaches for ages–still believes. (That and she’s still only a teeny child. I forget about that part sometimes, too.)
Her room was dark this morning when I walked in to see her. I thought she was asleep until I heard this voice–this tiny, excited voice–say, “Mom! The tooth fairy left me a NOTE!” She gave it to me and watched me, her eyes wide while I read. “She wrote it in cursive,” Saoirse said. “And I could READ it!”
My daughter still believes in magic. To think that David and I initially didn’t want to even introduce the idea of Scary Christmas Burglar Man to our kids–we were lying to them! we said. It takes away from the real meaning of the holidays! we declared–makes me want to bop my pretentious former pre-parenthood self over the head. My kids don’t buy into princesses, and super heroes, and the more realistic ideas of what can be supernatural in make-believe land. But they do believe in magic. They believe in fantasy and imagination and dreams coming true and fairies making amends. They believe in giving and being taken care of and going to bed at night feeling safe and hopeful. My kids bounce–I mean, BOUNCE–out of bed in the morning, talkative and chipper and ready to dive into play or food or whatever the day holds for them. Because they don’t care about to-do lists. They don’t care that the coffee table is covered with laundry that hasn’t yet made it up stairs to their drawers. They don’t care in the slightest that the pretzels haven’t been made chocolate-covered yet, because they will get done and they’ll get to help, and boy, isn’t that FUN?
It’s trick-or-treat night in our town this evening. My children will dress up in costumes and wander the streets with their neighbors, banging on stranger’s doors, fully expecting to be given gifts of chocolate just because they asked. They will be dressed as crayons tonight, having chosen Crayola costumes just because they liked their colors. They will be surrounded by Jedi knights and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Elsas and the characters from Inside Out. They will be walking around the streets of this big subdivision, just a mile from our local Target, within hearing distance of the interstate’s noise, surrounded by the same houses and the same cars and the same types of lawns…and magic. All they’ll see is magic.
But first, I am off to face the errands and the cleanings and my crazy hair right now, like a proper grown-up in Reality Land. And I will come home and shove all the papers off the kitchen island and clean it off (I promise) and make those 80 billion chocolate-covered pretzels because I said I would, so I shall. And then, after it’s all said and done, I will eat all of the Snickers bars out of my kids’ trick-or-treat buckets, and drink some autumn-themed beer, and sit down on the couch in my possibly messy or possibly clean home (like my new manuscript pages, it could go either way) and read all of the rest of the homeroom parent emails about our school party tomorrow, and realize that sometimes we have to create our own magic.I am the Tooth Fairy, after all. It shouldn’t be all that difficult.