The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Jane: The Holy Trinity of Trickery And Fraud

“Mom? Are you the tooth fairy?”

Stunned, I can’t look up from the puzzle I’m working on. “No, Sweetie. I’m your mom.”

My son walked away satisfied.

Oh. God. What did I just do? I lied to my son. But I was unprepared and I knew the inevitable question was next, “Are you Santa Claus, too?”


My husband chastised me. “You can’t lie. If he asks the question it means he’s ready for the answer.”

Well. That might be so. But maybe I’m not ready for the answer.

I’m not. Ready, that is. I fully believe in Santa Claus. Not in the concrete way that children do. But in the esoteric, allegorical sense. Think Miracle on 34th Street or the amazing Colonel Harry Shoup. And the Pollyanna in me clings to this belief for dear life.

I’ve tried to prepare for the inevitable. I’ve practiced speeches in my head. But I stumble and fail. I found this amazing letter that another mother wrote for her child. I’ve bookmarked it, hoping to be inspired when the time comes. But that moment will sneak up on me, just as it did the other day, and catch me by surprise. And I will bumble and fumble for the right words. I pray they come to me.

Think back to the time when you believed in Santa. This extraordinary man, who encourages goodness and kindness and magic. The joy, racing down the stairs, to see what was left under the tree. Finding just what you wanted and he only wanted a cookie, some hot chocolate and a carrot for his reindeer in return.

As my children grow older, I’m trying to come to terms that this magical time is ending. The mysteries of Santa will be revealed. And to those of you who have never lied to your children about this mythical man, you may now smile smugly as I wrestle with my lie and the fear that my children will lose confidence in me. I am a fraud, just as Santa Claus is a fraud, and I may never again be trusted.


“Will you put the dollar under his pillow?” I ask my husband.

“Me? Why me? You ALWAYS do it!” My husband is panicked and I try to get him to take the dollar.

“Well, that way I haven’t lied. I’m not the tooth fairy. You are.” Loopholes. I’m always on the lookout for loopholes.

“Well, I can’t. I mean. Uh. I don’t know how.” He stutters and stammers.

I glare at him. “You don’t know how? What is that supposed to mean? You slip your hand under his pillow, remove the tooth and leave a dollar in its place.”

He sheepishly trudges upstairs and I follow for moral support.

He tries to sneak his hand under the pillow but our son shifts in his sleep. “See? I’m going to screw it up.” He hisses.

I glare again.

He tries again, barely slipping his hand under the pillow and gives up. “I can’t find it. It’s not there.”

Ticked, I snatch the dollar, slip my hand under the pillow, immediately find the tooth and replace it with the dollar bill. My glare has now turned icy and menacing.

“You made a liar out of me,” I snarl.

My husband just stands there, with a sheepish grin.

I guess he’s not ready for the inevitable either.


Filed under children, Holiday, Motherhood

7 responses to “The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Jane: The Holy Trinity of Trickery And Fraud

  1. Oh, I can so relate. My daughter doesn’t believe anymore, but pretends she does. Bless her heart. That certainly helped when she lost a tooth last month. She put it under her pillow and then the dog jumped on her bed and ate it. If she’d been younger, I think she would have panicked that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t come. As it was, we all just laughed and wondered when the tooth would reappear. 😉

  2. I must admit I was never very convincing with my lies. I couldn’t help feel that as my kids are adopted, that they’d feel that if I lied about this what else have a lied about. Now we all go through the motions of Father Christmas coming, leaving him a mince pie and glass of sherry, knowing it’s not really him, but me. 😀

  3. What I took away from this post is all the sweetness! I would (and will have to) lie, too. It’s an act of preservation, I think. They only get to believe these things, live in that little magical space of awe for such a short time. I’d hate to be the one to tell them it isn’t so!

  4. I really wrestled with this when my children were little. Is it a lie to pretend about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus? Or is it imaginative fun? Mr. Rogers (you remember him) had an episode about this topic – helping children understand that Santa isn’t real.

    I told my children the truth. It was a personal choice. There are good stories associated with all three gift givers, and we told them the stories. We still put their teeth under the pillow in exchange for cash, hid Easter baskets and eggs, and put the presents under the tree. We had fun, but now I question whether or not I should have gone the other way 🙂

  5. There is little magic in our house. Sadly, I’m so logical I border on Vulcan, and my son is such a scientist he can barely tolerate fiction. So we tell the story of the tooth fairy and the easter bunny and santa, but we also tell where they come from, why they’re fun, and why nobody’s dressing up or hiding anything.

    I’m a party pooper. But my kids will never call me a liar.

    (And my son is so distraught about losing teeth that he picked out a special corked bottle and keeps them all in there. And I give him a present that I buy as soon as a tooth starts to wiggle. There’s magic in that secret, which doesn’t even come close to making up for the loss of fairies and goblins and all other gods.)

  6. My mom actually just went through this with my brother last year. It was hard for her, as I am sure it will be for you. But what she told him, and all of us, was that she didn’t lie when she said that Santa was real. Santa is real and he is alive in all our hearts when we give to others. Parents work to show their children the love that is shown through giving. After all, St. Nick was a real person, and telling that story can really show kids that the whole thing has a purpose.

  7. If it helps I don’t remember when my folks told me about the tooth fairy OR Santa Claus….so obviously it didn’t scar me for life.

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