My son caught me not too long ago, sneaking around the front porch in my bathrobe, sprinkling 'fairy dust' and emptying milk and honey from the tiny little thimbles she'd so carefully placed inside the fairy house. He stood inside the screen door, with his arms folded across his chest like a dad who'd just caught his daughter sneaking in after curfew, and when he caught my eye he just shook his head back and forth and tried to stifle a smile. I can just imagine what was going through his mind; either that his strange mom had finally lost it or that he now had concrete proof that I pull double duty as Santa Clause once a year.
The late night glitter spreading started innocently enough, and it seemed to me like an extension of the tooth fairy game we parents have played for so long. But my girl isn't fascinated with the tooth fairy; she's fascinated with fairies in general and defends their existence vehemently to her disbelieving brothers. So when she asked if she could make a fairy house, I couldn't say no. Her eyes were so bright and full of light, and she beamed with something that I can only describe as pure, unbridled and innocent joy. What would be the harm in letting her celebrate her imagination?
At first it was easy enough to empty the treats, sprinkle the glitter and let her 'chase' it to the flower bed where she searched to see if she could find the fairy's entry point. And, for a short time, she even decided to abandon the fairy house, letting it sit in the hallway. Then over this past weekend for some reason, she asked to put it out again. But this time she upped the ante: she asked the fairy to leave her a note. What fairy could turn down such a sweet request? Fast forward to tonight, and I'm on night three of embracing my new alter ego, Briar the fairy, and waiting until I'm sure everyone is fast asleep before I sneak out with my container of glitter and pink-inked note.
My son asked me how long I planned to keep lying to Erin. I know he meant it innocently enough, and that he's amused by the entire thing. I also know that there are some parents who would chide me for encouraging my daughter to believe in something that doesn't really exist. I don't really care. What I do care about is that, for this moment in time, she is the perfect combination of smart and innocent. She's researched enough to lecture me about 'fairy lore' but innocent enough to overlook the fact that I left the glitter bottle on the kitchen counter early Sunday morning. She believes in all things good, and magical, and sparkly and hasn't yet experienced the hardships–and heartbreak–that we all do at some point in life.
I think that being a mom means different things at different times. Cuddler, boo-boo kisser, teacher, disciplinarian, playmate, chauffeur, cook….the list goes on. Right now, though, it means protector. If a tube of glitter dust and a few notes allow her to be an innocent 8 year old for a little while longer, then I'll sneak around in my bathrobe. Just like it's my job to feed her, it's also my job to cultivate a belief in miracles, in magic and in the sheer joy and wonder of being a child. She'll find out soon enough that the fairies share space with Santa Clause in reality. What I hope she never forgets, though, is that there's a little bit of Briar in all of us if she continues to see the world through those innocent and hopeful eyes.