Laundry is the bane of my existence. However, tonight, while picking up innumerable clean but unmatched socks, I made a grisly discovery and found an Opportunity.
I found a small Barbie doll, a Kelly, in fact. From the knees up, she appeared perfectly normal. However, beside her suspiciously intact tiny pink plastic shoes, I also found her feet. In chunks. Dismembered. The tooth marks looked remarkably canine. In fact, the body was found not far from where the world’s laziest dog lounges all the livelong day. I imagine him carefully and lovingly removing the shoes before engaging in a gory and ritualistic foot gnawing.
This may be what educators call a Teachable Moment. Perhaps, I could use this opportunity to give the kids an object lesson in picking up their toys. The natural consequence implications are painfully obvious here. Pick things up or the dog will eat them. I’ve used it before, and it worked for a while. Maybe this will be the rude awakening, the grim reminder they need to help them focus their innate industriousness in useful ways (that is, ways that make less work for me). I want them to use their powers for good, not evil.
But I know there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth if Kelly’s gruesome fate is revealed. The resultant cacophany may well disclose the imprudence of the latest in a vast and endless series of parenting decisions (many of which, I am certain, will be discussed with their therapists when they are 40). So maybe I will quietly dispose of the body in a fitting and respectful manner, and pass by this Opportunity, if only to prevent the inevitable aching head.
Or maybe, I will forget about it, and leave her here on my desk, where I have placed her pending the autopsy, and they will discover the macabre scene on their own, prompting the latter scenario. This, I expect, is the eventuality most likely to occur. After all, they come by their slovenliness honestly (their father, of course).
My daughter is being exposed to influences outside of my control, way too soon, and I don’t approve. I think I mentioned the information she “heard” about the murder. Well this information, patently false, came from a particular child, a child with an older brother and an extremely obnoxious, mouthy mother. I will call this child Ingrid (it should go without saying that a name like that has obviously been falsified, to protect the identity of the miserable little so-and-so). Ingrid is positively full of information, information that she has extrapolated from evesdropped conversation, which I’m sure she believes is true, and which she passes off as truth to Aimee. Sweet, innocent little Aimee.
Aimee, who has her first loose tooth, and I had this conversation today:
A: The Tooth Fairy is you, you know.
Me: What do you mean?
A: Parents are the Tooth Fairy. They take the tooth and leave money.
Me: Oh, is that so? Where did you hear that?
Me: Of course, it was Ingrid. You know, Ingrid might be wrong. You probably shouldn’t believe everything she tells you.
But poor little Aimee is so gullible, that she will, no matter how farfetched. HA! Parents are the tooth fairy. What does she know.
She’s six years old!
Next she’ll be telling my daughter that Santa isn’t real. And then I will have to throttle the little brat. I will not have that magic spoiled by some snot-nosed know-it-all. I have a vivid memory of my friend and her older sister telling me that parents were Santa when I was exactly this age. But I managed to hold onto the belief for another year or two (at which time I remember dragging the truth out of my mother, who grudgingly confirmed my suspicions on the promise that I not tell my sister). I’m not ready for that part of her childhood to end. I know I can’t remain her central and most influential advisor forever, but on matters of this essential importance, I plan to hold on to that power with all my might. In no way am I ready to give that up, especially to a child who rubs me so far the wrong way.
So I shall take a page from my mother-in-law’s book. I told Aimee today that the Tooth Fairy only comes if the child believes in her. I will toe that line as long as I have to. I am fully prepared to engage in a game of psychological chicken: will she cave and continue to believe, or will I leave the tooth under her pillow, and sign all of her Christmas presents from us and not Santa?
In any case, I hope I can protect Aimee’s innocence enough to shield her from the knowledge that she is smack in the middle of what I suspect will not be the last battle that I wage with that little horror. And from the putative Facts that turn up at the mouth of Ingrid. It almost makes me want to home school. Shudder. Okay, not really, but you get the idea. So for those of you reading who may take a notion to contribute a Fact or two to my child’s database, beware my mother-bear instincts, and reconsider. I warn you.