Lying, cheating and manipulation: a sample of the skills of parenthood.
My eldest daughter lost a tooth recently. Long gone are the days when we eagerly awaited a first tooth, and instead we get fleeced for the loss of each pearly white.
My daughter was thrilled that the tooth fairy would be visiting, which led to me considering the vast array of untruths that we feed our children.
While raising our kids to believe that lying is wrong, we gaily impart the erroneous information that compromises childhood. You may have your own family traditions but, as a starter, I give to you the fat man in the red suit: Santa.
We tell our kids that as they sleep, Santa will creep into their rooms, complete with bulging sack, to deposit presents.
Sounds wrong, no? Furthermore, winged creatures will swipe their teeth from under their pillows, replacing them with currency, and a giant toothsome rabbit swinging a pastel-shaded basket will bounce across the nation, leaving chocolate.
These lies can even be extended in order to bribe certain behaviours; the ‘dummy fairy’ for instance.
And then one day, before you know it, you’ve progressed from Partial Lunacy to Fully Fledged Mentalism: letters from the tooth fairy.
That’s right, no longer is it sufficient to put hard cash under a pillow; my girls expect some handwritten notes too.
This began because their friends were getting them, and is a vicious circle of parental madness.
My husband now finds himself writing letters from fairies, in teensy weensy font on tiddly widdly scraps of paper, while calling himself ‘Pearl’. However, last week Pearl went hardcore, and left a note suggesting that India tidy her bedroom before any cash would be distributed.
My friend Emma had suggested this radical idea and we were willing to give it a go. India takes pride in cultivating biohazards in her boudoir and on occasion I have sported a tea towel on my face before entering.
Initially, India took umbrage at Pearl the Tightwad. However, she conceded, tidied up and received £1.
If India even attempts to convince us that she should be getting the £5 per tooth that some children do, then the only thing Pearl will be in receipt of is a wingectomy.
· Verity Lush is a 36-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth. She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements. Follow her on Twitter @lushnessblog