Last night my 6-year-old son went to bed with a lost tooth under his pillow. Next to the tooth was a note to the tooth fairy telling her how awesome she is and how he couldn't wait see what she left for him.
This morning my son woke up to the joy of finding money under his pillow. He ran up to me and his 10-year-old sister in his pajamas and bedhead to tell us the exciting news. I smiled a big smile. His sister, though clearly at the age where she is hugely skeptical about the tooth fairy and similar tales, smiled a forced smile and told him that it was great.
I looked at my two kids. One still at the age where he will pretty much believe whatever he hears as long as the source is reliable and the other questioning everything from the tooth fairy to human existence on a daily basis. One child had endless amounts of blind faith while the other was embarking on the next phase of life: the carefully taken steps to try and understand what everything means, what she can rely on and where this was all going.
When my daughter was 6 months old we celebrated her first Christmas. As a baby, Christmas, like most things, was celebrated for her parents sake, not hers. She enjoyed tearing up wrapping paper and gumming some mashed potatoes but mostly she was a huggable prop for family pictures. Still, my husband went in big with the smiles and discussion of Santa. Since I grew up Jewish, Santa was a bit of a foreign concept to me. I obviously knew the deal, but it was not as ingrained in my head as it was my husband's. Happy to welcome new traditions, I learned fast that when kids were around, the discussion of Santa was limited to when he is coming and have you been good for him. That was it. Period. It seemed a harmless charade so I rolled with it, and nearly 10 years later I am still rolling with Santa, the tooth fairy and other small charades I've had to keep up for my kids as time went on.
While the charade seemed harmless, in the back of my mind I still thought, as a rational and logical adult, that all that stuff was a bit silly. How could you not? Now, as my daughter gets older and more skeptical I realize how completely not silly these little charades are. As a self-proclaimed cynic, the older I get I try desperately to hold onto anything I can that allows me to just believe, to have faith, to relax and go with the flow.
How incredible would it be to awaken in the morning and genuinely believe that a winged creature came into your room and carefully placed a monetary gift under your pillow before magically flying off to do same thing to other children all over the world? How incredible is it that, if only for a brief part of their lives, I can allow my kids to have this magical kind of faith. They will no doubt grow to doubt. They will question, argue, be defeated and possibly become cynical in their own right. As my daughter is visibly heading down that path, I hold onto the little charades for my son. And for myself, I smile each time I imagine their smiles, their imaginations, their dreams of hope and faith filling them with the same joy I feel witnessing it.