The Tooth Fairy and Other Myths

It all started with a Dec 9 trip to the dentists office after weeks of a loose tooth:

"Mama, can the dentist just pull it out? It hurts."

And pull it out the dentist did, which is how on opening night of the Highrock Christmas Concert AND The Christmas Revels, with Mama and Daddy on different stages and our good friend Bill hanging out with the boys, we suddenly had to figure out Our Version of the Tooth Fairy.

When Nathan first discovered he had a loose tooth he promptly announced that he knew the tooth fairy wasn't real, so we figured we'd get to skip this one. But as the tooth got more and more loose, the idea of a tooth fairy took hold. So when Nathan came home from the dentist, tooth in hand, just two hours before I had to leave for the theater, asking "Do you think the tooth fairy will leave me a treasure chest? I hope it has gold doubloons..." I sent a panicked note out to a strategically selected group of friends:

"Hey Friends,

We are wholly unprepared for Nathan to lose his first tooth today. He's had a loose tooth for a while, but has also been unconvinced of the tooth fairy, so we thought we were getting off easy. Nope! And of course Tim and I both have performances this evening.

SO - We are now in search of international currency. (Nathan loves collecting foreign coins, seems to think the tooth fairy is a pirate, and we really have no idea how much a tooth is "worth" these days anyway.)

If you are going to see me or Tim tonight, or live close enough to swing by our house, and you have an interesting looking coin or bill that you can afford to part with, would you mind bringing it to us? Tell us the exchange rate - we'll happily buy it from you.

Nathan plans to leave the tooth fairy a snack, so who knows, there might be something interesting in it for you too.

Thank you!"

And thus began our globe trotting pirate tooth fairy. I gravitated to international currency rather than spending money because 1) I didn't want to get into the arms race of tooth prices and 2) Nathan is so torn by the concept of money (is it better to have a $20 bill or to spend part of it on those marbles I really want??) I just didn't want to add to his wallet. And he does love collecting coins.

For his first tooth Nathan received two coins from New Zealand and we got to see how the queen had aged from one coin to the next (who knew?). Tuesday night for his second tooth Nathan received a coin from the USSR (I guess our tooth fairy is a time traveler too). And thanks to our fast acting friends we're in good shape for the next few teeth.

The fact that Nathan has lost his first two teeth on either side of Christmas seems appropriate to me, since we treat the tooth fairy and Santa in about the same way - we're fine with these stories being out in the ether, we think they add a bit of fun and magic, but we mostly let society talk about them and aren't going to go to great lengths to keep up the story.

We manage our vague Santa by talking about how Santa is not the point of Christmas, but a reminder of God's love and generosity that we want to share with others and with the world. It helps that the message of love and generosity can work even for a family that doesn't believe in God, so it's an idea of Santa that works out in the world. AND it means that whether or not Santa is real doesn't really matter. We also talk a lot about the things that are magical about Christmas and highlight how they don't have to reply on Santa to be magical. Tim and I are already preparing how to celebrate when the boys stop believing in Santa, so that they feel the new knowledge is a new gift, rather than a letdown. I think we have a few years though.

So those are the myths that hang out at our house these days.

Daylight Whatever Time YEAR TWO

We set the clocks back and then we had an election that could very well set the country back.

But in our little family Daylight Saving continues to be more a blessing than a curse. For whatever reason, the boys who were up excited for school in September are getting tired and ready to sleep in by November. And the clock saying it is an hour earlier than their bodies think is just the trick for smoother mornings. Now a week into it, feeling I'm sure the stress of the adults around them, by the end of the day they are exhausted, happily asleep by 7pm, but that's okay. Shifting the whole day forward an hour feels good.

These days Liam comes home from school singing new songs. Nathan is becoming an incredible artist. And while we're exhausted (both parents doing Christmas shows this year, what were we thinking??) and sometimes short on patience, this is a great season with our boys.

This is not becoming a political blog (we can barely maintain a blog blog!)

When we found ourselves in the NICU almost 6 years ago, we started blogging to keep family & friends up to date and to keep our own record. When we launched this blog into the world we said we were preemie parents learning that parenting in the real world is really just parenting. What does that mean almost six years removed from our first NICU stay? I think it means learning to love and parent wherever or whatever moment we find ourselves in, even if it is not the place or moment we hoped for or expected – it’s still all the same learning to love because the real world is unexpected. I think that is why at this unexpected moment, this feels like a good thing to take up again, mostly for our own record. And maybe there will be some cute kid photos along the way.

Bread and Roses

There is the Ring Theory for times of crisis - Comfort In; Dump Out. Offer comfort to those in greater stress, closer to the crisis than you; Share your grief and pain and fear with someone further removed than you. In this way we are best supported and best support each other.

Today I take a deep breath and open my arms to be a place where those I love who have more to fear than I do can dump out.

The song in my head and in my heart all morning has been Bread and Roses. A union poem, a women's song, a strike anthem, but why today? And then I saw these powerful thoughts shared by an amazing MHC musician, scholar and classmate:

"Teach them to sing 'Bread and Roses.' Teach them to go marching, marching. Teach them that we also fight for men. Teach them that we want a strong economy that leaves no one behind, but we also want education.
In the face of fear, we still want bread but it has never been more clear that we must fight for roses, too."


In four years Nathan will be nine

Yesterday, after going through the usual morning routine, getting Liam off to school, playing with trains, and a suspenseful game of snakes and ladders, Nathan and I headed out the door to vote. On our walk to the elementary school gym Nathan said "Mama, I really don't want our country to elect a bully."

This morning when Nathan got up I told him the news - our country elected a bully. He literally crawled back under the covers. He wanted to know why.

All morning I've been asking myself if our privilege means my family will get through the next four years unscathed. And if so, how we will use that privilege to serve those who are targeted and marginalized. And how, how on earth, we will raise our boys so that four years from now when we are again electing a president, and sixteen years from now when Nathan can vote for a president, they are still saying I don't want our country to elect a bully. In four years Nathan will be nine. Nine year olds have heard a lot and formed plenty of opinions. I keep thinking of those lines from South Pacific: "You've got to be taught before it's too late, / Before you are six or seven or eight, / To hate all the people your relatives hate, / You've got to be carefully taught!" I have some confidence we're doing pretty well on the not hating thing, so I'm less worried about who my children might learn to hate than that we won't teach them well enough how to love.

So as a person of faith and privilege the best I can figure is to start with St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.