The Tooth Fairy visited our house last night to retrieve the tiniest tooth ever plucked from a five-year-old’s wee mouth. There was much joy and celebration for this bizarre custom of worshipping milk teeth. Violet regaled the twins with tales of a friend whose tooth was whisked away by a Tooth Fairy so delicate and special she left sparkly footprints all around the site of the exalted tooth.
I brushed away the annoying thought that Pinterest parents are ruining life for parents too busy to make every childhood experience magical.
“Tooth Fairies don’t leave footprints, guys – they fly. They only walk if they’re too drunk to fly.”
Did you know that was going to be the title of my memoir? Your Tooth Fairy is Drunk: My Journey into Single Motherhood. It was going to be all witty and glib and blithely condescending – like Tina Fey.
But then 2016 happened. It takes second place to 2013, which was the year that simply broke me as it thrust me into the machinations of someone else’s midlife crisis.
Suddenly the thought of a comedic and light-hearted take on a situation which gutted me (and occasionally still does) shriveled in its frivolity.
2016 both started off with and concluded with the kinds of losses that remind us that our baby boomer parents aren’t immortal, that they are not always going to be a loving familiarity in our lives. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Janet Reno… so many cultural icons who shaped the way we saw the world.
Loss turned to disbelief as, in court after court, rapists were given angel food sentences so that their lives weren’t ruined, never mind that their deliberate actions stole from their victims, hurting them, terrorizing them, and forcing them to witness the public opinion that the quality of their lives meant less than the quality of the lives of their perpetrators. Seriously – how difficult is it? You see human, you do not rape human. What more can be said?
Disbelief turned to outrage. This election… this election… this election… The fallout. Devastating. Humans living here – I stand with you, no matter who you are. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and anything less is criminal.
All leading me to the limp flannel of my planned memoir, a dusty pink shadow I don’t want to create anymore.
Someone told me I was a supermom. A wonder woman among mothers. It left an icky taste in my mouth, like peppermint chased by orange juice. I am not a superhero. I am a privileged, educated, financially stable white mom who happens to not have another adult living with me. My kids are privileged. They live in a safe, welcoming, supportive town and go to safe, welcoming supportive schools taught by safe, welcoming, supportive teachers. They are surrounded by hope and love and adults who care about them.
To this point, my pale-as-enriched-rice blonde beauties have a very easy life. They can walk down the street and people smile at their rosy cheeks and mischievous grins. I do not have to worry that the things they do will be misunderstood, that they will be accosted by authorities or bullied for being different – because they’re not. The most different my children get is that they rarely wear matching socks.
I try to explain privilege to them. I tell them this – that there are children who live in places that are not safe or who are scared to go places like school because others are mean to them. They blink at me with wide hazel eyes which show their complete innocence and lack of guile.
“Are you ever mean to kids because of the way they look?”
“No, mom. That’s silly.”
“Do you ever touch someone who doesn’t want to be touched?”
“No. We don’t touch people unless they say it’s OK.”
“Do you ever say mean things about people when they’re not with you?”
“No. Who does that, mom?”
“Do you ever joke about kids who have different skin or different manners or different ways of talking than you?”
“No, mom. Different is cool.”
“You know that it’s OK for boys to love boys and girls or anyone they want, right? And that sometimes people are born with bodies that aren’t who they really are inside, right?”
“Yeah. Love is love, mom.”
I don’t know that I’m doing it right. I try. Every day I try. I try to tell them the truths of the world to teach them empathy and sensitivity and caring. I try to show them that our road is easier even if it seems hard to us. But when Milo doesn’t get what he wants and he throws a tantrum, I ask myself – is this because he’s a white male, a firstborn child, or just him being a tween? I tell him that he doesn’t get extra or something special just for existing. That doesn’t always fly.
But the Tooth Fairy does. And last night she left shiny glitter nail polish footprints all around the tooth-manger where Juliet’s wee tooth had hidden. Because that little lie is a whole lot easier than the big truth of the world.