The tooth fairy.
She's very forgetful now that she's in perimenopause.
It is from the back seat of the car that all momentous pronouncements come. So it was inevitable that the curtain came down on the Santa myth from the back seat of the car on Sunday as Lilly and Grace and I drove to pick up our fast-food Sunday dinner at Steak N Shake.
"Umm, Mom?" Lilly says "I know about Santa."
Oh thank god. I had not been looking forward to that conversation but I had also not been looking forward to another year of playing Santa. Frankly, I'm not cut out for that role.
Too much sneaking. I'm not sneaky. Too much planning. I'm not a planner. Way too much to remember. I have no memory. Thus I would all too often say, "The doll I got you, no I mean the doll Santa brought, hee hee, I'm so confused, who gave you that?"
It is perfectly appropriate that Lilly would tell me. With three kids proper protocol diminishes with each child. When I told Atticus he was crushed like kids are supposed to be; Grace asked me outright and just shrugged when I broke it to her; and Lilly told me.
"I've known for two years," she adds.
"Why did you tell me today then?"
"I told Grace and she told me I had to tell you."
"Thank you Grace." Grace is well aware I do not relish my Santa job. I've been pawning more and more of it off on her in recent years--first under the guise of "softening the blow" of the truth but more recently out of sheer laziness. Here, help me pick something out. Hey, would you wrap that. Oh, here's a twenty, ride your bike to Toys R Us and find something. Go ahead and get yourself a little something too.
"So that means I can stop all the nonsense? Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy?" I confirm.
"Yeah. And that tooth fairy trick you do...it's lame. We know about it."
I know exactly which trick she means. In fact, it's the only way the Tooth Fairy has delivered money in the past four years. Here's how it goes. She tells me she lost a tooth. She puts it under her pillow. I forget and go to bed without taking care of it. In the morning at the breakfast table Lilly says, "The Tooth Fairy forgot to come. Again." and I say, "Oh, I have to get something in my room," and slip away with a dollar hidden in my hand. From her bedroom I call, "Hey, look the dollar must have fallen down behind the bed!" and she comes in and acts surprised.
Over time I got sloppier and sloppier on this until the last time when I think I walked to my purse took out a dollar and said, "Oh look, the Tooth Fairy left the dollar in my wallet."
And so it was that when Lilly made the pronouncement from the back seat I surprised even myself by not being remotely sentimental about it all. No tears, no regrets, no sadness at the obvious marker of a childhood slipping away.
All I felt was great relief at finally being able to drop the facade I had erected so long ago and maintained so poorly over time.
Ho, ho, whew.