My daughter has that look of Nanny McPhee at the moment. In normal circumstances, if you can see past the attitude, which is almost a physical presence in itself, she’s all Rapunzel length blonde hair, broad grin and flashing Steve McQueen blue eyes. At the moment though, all I can focus on is the one great big haggle tooth, going greyer by the day and hanging by a thread. I am struggling to resist the urge to just reach over and give it a good hard tweak. It’s a bit like that spot you shouldn’t pick at, but just can’t ignore.
When she sees that look come over my face, she bats me away and tells me to get off, in no uncertain terms. She knows quite well what I have in mind. I respond by telling her that the tooth fairy will be very slow to visit if she doesn’t get on with it. She rolls her eyes and laughs. ‘Mum I am a bit OLD for that now you know.’ She’s 7 and I think I’ve managed to keep the fairies alive until very recently, but now they are definitely on their way out. I tell her that every time someone says they don’t believe, a fairy dies. I dramatise the death. The fairy’s light goes out, she gets paler and thinner, starving and in pain, clutching at her sides and groaning, she eventually collapses to the ground and fades into nothingness. And I tell her that everytime she says this, this will be all her fault. Unfortunately she knows my sense of humour and just grins. I curse myself for not taking the opportunity to make the death gorier.
I love the fact that she has held on for this long. Last year, her friends began to tease her for still believing in fairies. She was angry with me for keeping the myth alive and I didn’t know quite how to respond. Is it wrong to want to keep my little girl little for a bit longer? I dragged it out for a bit. On one occasion, she swallowed a tooth and was desperately upset that she wouldn’t get the cold hard cash that the fairy brings. Fortunately however, the tooth fairy is resourceful. She wrote a note explaining that one of her best friends the drain fairy had located the disappeared tooth after it had eventually made its way into the sewer, and had passed it on to her. It hadn’t been the most pleasant of jobs, but you know, friends do things for each other. When she found the note in the morning, C’s eyes lit up – and mine too.
She knows the truth – but we have reached an understanding now. She asks about the tooth fairy and about Father Christmas. A smile flickers over her face as I tease her with what is only ever a half answer.
Photo of the Dan Baines Derbyshire ‘dead fairy’ from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/derbyshire/6545667.stm