3.54am in the early hours of Sunday morning and I am wide eyed and restless. That’s the problem with climbing into bed at 9-45 of an evening, your circadian rhythms jolt you awake and make you desire a soothing cup of tea at an ungodly hour. I was already fully conscious, contemplating life’s more pressing questions such as ‘did I cook enough bolognese for lunch or could I eke it out with the addition of chopped courgettes,’ when the Small Child wandered in, bleary eyed.
‘In you get,’ I said, drawing back the covers. LSB made a groaning sound and prepared to exit. ‘Night night,’ I muttered, feebly. Then I remembered the tooth. The Small Child was ever so excited about her tooth coming out, and the anticipation of a couple of quid under her pillow. I still, at this point, harboured some hope of returning sleep quickly, so as LSB was ousted to the bed downstairs, I told him to do the Tooth Fairy duty, in pigeon Spanish, lest the Small Child’s overhear.
<Necessito deneiro para ella – tu sabes, sus dientes’.*>
LSB had some wine last night and looked on, bewildered.
<Sus DIENTES > I repeated, pointing at the child’s head, in the direction of her teeth. <Ah, si, si> he mumbled, plundering through his bed stand drawer for change. There was much noise, and things clattering onto the wooden floor. I was rendered quite awake by now.
<Dos>, I said, because she has been a good child of late, most endearing. Au contraire, the Older One has taken to answering back, so when her tooth fell out on Tuesday she only got a pound. Tooth Fairies round this neck of the woods tend to listen in, a bit like Santa’s Seagull, who was a regular when I was growing up in Bangor. He was forever looking through the window with a beady eye and reporting any misdemeanours back to base in the North Pole. I held a grudge against seagulls for years, but I’m quite over it now, and even feel sorry for them with all the plastic in their tummies.
I toss and turn and sleep is not forthcoming. Apparently, in the olden times, pre-electricity, this was the norm. (Not pre-dawn raids hunting for change for in return for teeth,) but being awake at two or three in the morning. This was because everyone went to bed when it got dark (in the winter months anyway,) then woke a few hours later and had a snack and a chat and maybe some sex, before going back to sleep. How very pleasant, and how obviously never going to happen here, because between children and the cat our house is like an episode of ‘Whose bed is it anyway?’ Poor LSB knows the answer to that one, as he makes his forlorn way to the downstairs bedroom. ‘ Never my fecking bed,’ he says, trudging off.
While I’m in a ranty mood, here’s something else that I have issues with: over zealous parenting. Those ones who ‘go the extra mile’ seemingly with the only intention of making the rest of us frazzled mortals feel shit. I’m talking ‘rate per tooth’ here. IMHO, no tooth should ever warrant more than £2, except of course, if the tooth fairy was exhausted/tipsy or both and forgot to come for say, 3 lost teeth in a row. Then, fair enough, give the child a fiver, so they don’t that cast up to you as they heave you into a home when you’re eighty.
Also, for the love of God, don’t be writing letters in fancy calligraphy to your offspring on behalf of a mythical creature. If you’re contemplating such hijinks, have a word with yourself. Anyone with that amount of spare time on their hands can come round here and deal with a few loads of my laundry. Those sort off shenanigans set expectations, that we all have to start penning missives, waxing lyrical about the wonder that is children growing up. The only letter our fairy is going to write is: ‘If you don’t stop strewing your dirty socks and pants round the house I won’t be back. Ever.’
When I was looking up images for a tooth fairy to adorn this piece, I came across pre-written messages which you can purchase online. These spout lots of shite about the kid being wonderful and enquiring after their general health. Some frigger somewhere is making a fortune out of that racket and I want in on it. I might suggest threatening versions for when children have been horrid: I’d be good at writing those.
*Those fluent in Spanish may feel the need to offer some corrections. Please refrain. I don’t actually speak much Spanish and I’m thrilled to bits with myself with the odd bit I know. Don’t burst my bubble. Trust me, it’s already well punctured at this stage.