Does a bit of magic make a tiny lie more palatable?

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STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

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Last weekend my son lost his first two milk teeth in the space of two days.

While it turned out to be an expensive weekend, I was glad to see the end of the loose-tooth wiggling I’d been forced to endure in the weeks previous.

I remember putting my own mother through the same as a child.

How enjoyable it was to twist them around and how satisfying it was when the last thread finally broke.

Yet here I am, a grown woman and barely able to look at those teeth flapping around against his lip without cringing.

The tooth fairy is the only one of our make believe figures that brings a monetary reward.

Father Christmas brings presents, the Easter bunny brings chocolate, but the tooth fairy brings cold hard cash and this made me think about the rules surrounding these fictitious characters we spend so much time kidding our kids about.

The main problem of course is there really are no rules.

We all try to conform to the whole lying to our children thing. Sorry, but I can’t help wondering how much damage all this could be doing to my son’s fundamental trust in human beings, not to mention his mother!

We are not however, always all on the same page about how we go about it.

We leave ourselves open to: ‘So and so got £2 for his tooth, why did I only get £1?’ (Or 50p – it was buy-one-get-one-half-price that weekend in my house.)

There are similar issues with Christmas.

You spend the whole of December telling them Santa can’t afford a Nintendo 3DS, only to find out come January that’s exactly what Mr Claus gave your son’s friend at school. Explain that one.

As parents we are forced to learn how to be creative with our explanations.

‘Santa thought you would enjoy that 100 piece puzzle so much more…’

But it’s not always easy.  

So, in fear of undercutting my son’s worth, I asked some mum friends what a tooth goes for these days.

Considering our current economic downturn, the rise in VAT and general cost of living, not to mention any handling fee the tooth fairy may administer, what was the right amount to leave?

Of course, I discovered the correct answer to that was, there isn’t one.

One friend suggested I leave a small red note saying ‘Sorry, you were out…’

I am dreading that awkward conversation the day my son finally uncovers my deceit, demanding to know what else I’ve been lying to him about for the last 10 years (is 10 too optimistic? Should I be expecting this conversation sooner?). 

I can only hope when I tell him that the magic of his innocent excitement made all my dishonesty worthwhile, he is able to forgive me and that the cost of therapy for his trust issues doesn’t bankrupt me.

Of course, he’ll do the same when he’s a father – but by then the tooth fairy will be leaving £5 notes.