Saturday, January 15, 2011

On the Tooth Fairy and Other Highly Sensitive Subjects

This is an article I wrote for a school publication back in the 90’s.
as i am a terrible typist... there are errors;-)

On the Tooth Fairy and Other Highly Sensitive Subjects

While working with the young minds of the future some of their questions have filled me with hope. Other comments have scared me to death. Watching them imitate life, assume ideas, change their minds, wet their pants make friends and pick their noses has changed the way I see some things.

Many issues are raised and questions asked about the mysteries and wonders of life in my classroom. Deep profound questions like “Why does poop stink?” That was an easy one, and I was glad to answer it. I grossed them out so bad the question didn’t reappear for many years.

Occasionally, I get that one question that I know the answer to, but to answer would lead to other uncomfortable questions that maybe a parent should answer like: “Where do babies come from?” fortunately for me I have been blessed to have in my classroom that one child, who while is much younger than I, has lived and knows everything.

“Where do babies come from? You don’t know that?” This is the usual first response, which usually gets a “Yeah,” or “Please, I knew that since I was four” comment. The asker of the question still waits for an answer, while the know-it-all decides whether he or she is too learned to answer such juvenile questions. After all he or she is a second grader and could be to busy to deal with such drivel. I fade into the background to hear their theories of the world.

One year when this particular question came up they came close to the right answer. Someone knew there was an egg. While I squirmed in my seat hoping and praying they wouldn’t ask me where it was, the know-it-all of that year went on to say, “When the menstruation doesn’t happen, the egg is laid.” Her hand on what would one day be a hip.

I giggled mostly in fear, because I had no idea what would come out of her mouth next. “The mommy doesn’t have a menstruation for a lot of months, I think it’s like thirty-six, then she goes to the doctor and has her baby.” A little off but very well done I thought to myself hoping again the ball wouldn’t land in my court. “My mom says you can take it back if it’s not the right one.” Another student says and before I can interject the little miss know-it-all pipes in, “Your mother lied to you!”

Listening carefully I realize the proverbial cat is about to be let out of the bag.

“She did not! My mother doesn’t lie to me!” he shouts back at her.

“Please.” Preached Little Miss Know-It-All, “Adults lie to children all the time. Lie telling you if you eat your vegetables you’ll grow up big and strong, when all the vegetarians I know are skinny and scrawny. Like when they say the shot won’t hurt? It does!”

She paused, and I thought now would be a good time to go outside for some fresh air, but she wasn’t finished. “I bet you still believe in Santa Clause, don’t you?” Faces throughout the room looked shocked and shattered.

I stood up and spoke, “People have a right to believe what they believe, respect and don’t mess with that.” A sigh of relief seemed to flow through the room. That’s when I realized that I have exposed myself, and watching Little Miss Know-It-All, I see that she sees it too. I am now standing on that spot some of us don’t like to be standing on.

“Have you ever lied to you children Mrs. Theresa?”

I broke out in a small, but not to obvious sweat. “About what?” I recovered, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“Do your children think that there is a Santa Clause, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy?”

My eyes widened as I prepared to be exposed like all of the other parents who were not there to witness our demise at the hands of a seven, I mean seven-and-a-half year old. Just as I was about to respond, not exactly sure of what I was going to say. My daughter, who had been sitting quietly, spoke up.

“My mother doesn’t lie to us! We don’t celebrate Christmas we celebrate Kwanzaa our ancestors bring us gifts. And if I am sitting there dying eggs, why would I believe a big rabbit brings them to me?”

A series of, “Yeah! See you don’t know everything rises from the crowd of second and third graders.

“Line up.” I say sending the class scrambling to be the first in line to go outside. Little Miss Know-It-All turned to look at me, her head cocked to the side, then turned to my daughter and said, “What about the Tooth Fairy?”

The hairs on the back of my neck did a dance. My daughter stood up, looked her right in the eyes and said, “When I lose a tooth, my mom puts it in an envelope, and the next day I have two dollars. Of course I believe in the Tooth Fairy!” Then she bounced away to line up with her friends.

Just then I felt a tug on my jacket. A very reassured Little Miss Know-It-All wearing an evil little grin looked at me and said, “I told you. Adults lie to children.”

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