The other day I went to our kids’ elementary school and had lunch with Son Number Two for his birthday. I got to sit at the table with his class, and let me tell you; if you ever have the chance to go to an elementary school and eat lunch in the multi-purpose room with 200 little kids, go ahead and pass on that. Just take your lunch and eat it quietly in the car by yourself. Holy crap. The twenty minutes I was in that lunch room took at least three years off my life.
The noise level alone is enough to make you nuts, but when you also factor in the constant barrage of questions directed your way by your tablemates and the children from the surrounding tables, your head is spinning the entire time. Yes, I can help you open your applesauce. Yes, I am his dad. No, I am not as bald as your dad. Yes I am much balder than her dad. No, I am under seven feet tall. Yes, I do like guacamole. No, I do not have a riding lawn mower. No, I do not want any of your yogurt. No, Pluto used to be a planet, but now it’s just a rock, I guess. And Mickey’s dog. No, seven million is much smaller than infinity. Yes, I do know how to play kickball. Yes, George Washington was the first president. No, I don’t know what your front door looks like. Yes, we do have a backyard at our house…
Amid the myriad of questions, one of my son’s classmates pipes up out of nowhere with a statement. Sam, we’ll call him to protect his identity, since I suspect he will be in trouble with the law one day, says, “There’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy.”
Why, Sam? Why do you have to be like this? My son, who is about to lose another tooth, is sitting right here. Why are you undermining me by trying to disprove this universal parental lie?
“That’s crazy talk, Sam. The Tooth Fairy is totally real. Why do you think she (or he?) doesn’t exist?”
“Because my tooth has been under my pillow for a week, and I haven’t got any money.”
OK, Sam, I can see your point.
“Do your parents know you lost the tooth and put it under your pillow?”
OK, Sam’s parents, you’re killing me here! Write yourselves a note and put it under YOUR pillow! Come on brain, work with me, here. I know you’re tired from all the questions and the noise, but we need to focus on solving this problem. Must lie convincingly…
“OK, Sam, here’s what you need to do. Ask your parents to call the Tooth Fairy hotline. In emergencies like this, we parents have a special number to reach the Tooth Fairy. She was obviously too busy to get to your house the first night. That happens sometimes when lots of kids lose teeth on the same day.” (Or when your dad has too much of his “special drink” and forgets to take care of business before his head hits the pillow.) “Usually she just comes the next night, but your name must have fallen off the schedule somehow due to a clerical error at Tooth Fairy headquarters. It’s rare, but it happens.”
“Are you sure? I think you’re making that up. I don’t think she’s real.”
“Of course she’s real.” Work with me, kid. “Who do you think takes your tooth and leaves you money?”
“What?!? Parents? That’s crazy talk. I have never left a nickel under any of my kids’ pillows.” (I leave gold presidential dollar coins, not nickels.) “Why would we want your teeth, anyway?”
“I don’t know, but you do.”
This isn’t going well. This kid is not buying any of this. Sam’s parents, this is all your fault! If you were here right now, we would be having some words!
Just when I thought the ship was sinking and I was going to lose the battle, and my son’s reality would be shattered right in front of my eyes, my own child came to the rescue. Son Number Two, who had been listening intently and rather wide-eyed to this whole exchange, suddenly had a flash of brilliance. He said to his doubting classmate across the table, “There has to be a Tooth Fairy, because there is no way your mom or dad could put their hand under your pillow without waking you up.”
“That’s true,” said Sam.
Nice going, Number Two! Never mind the fact that at eleven o’clock at night I could grab you by the ankles, drag you out of your bunk bed, stuff the dollar coin up one of your nostrils, and throw you down the stairs without waking you up, but OK. I guess when you’re debating a seven-year-old, it helps to use seven-year-old logic.
“See, I told you so. Have your parents call the hotline.”
Crisis averted. The lunch may have taken three years off my life, but it was totally worth it. I helped keep my kid, and hopefully a bunch of other kids in his class, from growing up too quickly. Plus, I got to trade my lame Cheez-Its for someone’s awesome fruit roll-up.
I answered about 30 more random questions and opened five or six more yogurts and snack packs, and then it was time to be dismissed for after-lunch recess. As we were about to get up from the table, Drew, one of my son’s best buddies from class pipes up, “Well, there might be a Tooth Fairy, but there’s no Santa Claus.”
Come on, Drew’s parents! Give me a break.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen
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