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I am a recovering Pinterest addict. The obsession started as a very slow burn and then without warning exploded in an apocalyptic fashion, raining the debris of recipes and crafts and school activities and parenting advice and home improvements all over my computer screen and home. Over the past year the passion has fizzled and what was once a several hours a day activity now only occupies about an hour of my time a week, if that. There are still many awesome things to peruse and glean from the hundreds of pins I've collected and I'm grateful to have such a great resource at my fingertips, but I think I've come to learn that I will never - not ever - rise to the level that the majority of pinners display.
Recent case in point: the "Is there really a Santa Claus" letter that shows up multiple times a week this time of year. The idea behind it is fantastic, and in a perfectly scripted world maybe I would have attempted this approach. But our house is not Pinterest level perfection, and instead of a well planned, expertly executed approach like this:
We instead end up with something like this:
Her: (as I'm closing her bedroom door after tucking her in) Hey, mom, a couple of kids at school said the tooth fairy isn't real and that it's actually you and dad. Is that true?
Me: (open mouth, look of terror in my eyes) Um, what?
Her: Is the Tooth Fair real?
Me: (walking slowly back to her bed) Well . . . why would you ask me that?
Her: I was talking about my loose tooth the other day and I said something about the Tooth Fairy coming and some kids in my class said, "You know the Tooth Fairy isn't real, right? That it's really your parents?" and I was like, "Uh, no. I didn't know that". So it is really you?
Me: Well, what you do you think?
Her: I don't know!
Me: Um, okay. Hang on just a second, I'll be right back.
*running to living room to find The General*
Me: (frantic under the breath shouty-whispering) Uh, you might want to come back here. She just asked me if the Tooth Fairy is real.
Him: And did you tell her?
Him: So she asked you and you just ran out of her room, leaving her there all alone, to find me without telling her the truth?!
Me: No! Well, sort of! I asked her what she thought was true and she said she didn't know and I thought I better get you because, you know, this could lead to other conversations.
So, we returned to her room as a team and destroyed every childhood story in which she ever believed. The End.
She actually took the news of the Tooth Fairy's true identity very well. I don't think she was too bothered by the idea that we had made her believe some mystical fairy flitted into her room to fetch nasty teeth leaving four quarters as the prize especially when we assured her she'd still be receiving the handsome reward for random body parts falling out of her mouth.
The General and I have had several conversations in recent years about the when and how logistics for breaking the news about "The Guardians". He has been itching to tell her the real story for at least a year and was slightly discouraged to see any belief solidified after our Elf on the Shelf's debut last year. I kept saying she wasn't ready, not yet, let's give it some more time, she'll let us know when she's ready to hear it. During the Tooth Fairy conversation, The General kept gently leading her, asking at least three or four times, "So, do you have any other questions? Is there anything else you want to ask us about?", and it took some time before she finally looked at him with those big blue, trusting eyes and said, "Don't tell me Santa isn't real". And what happened then instantly became simultaneously one of the most hilarious and devastating moments of my life as a mother.
The General slowly scrunched up his face, stretched his arms out slowly, and apologetically stated, "Merry Christmas?" to which McKenna's immediate reaction was eyes filling with tears and the release of what can only be described as a nearly manic belly laugh that lasted almost a minute. Her laughter kept me from breaking into sobs, but those teary eyes betrayed her if only slightly which completely broke my heart.
We explained all the ins and outs, fully disclosing the years of betrayal. We assured her that she would still receive presents, explained that she was now in on a very important secret and that we were trusting her to help us keep Elaina in the bubble of belief, and asked repeatedly if she was okay. Finally, she asked the last question, "Please don't say you are Elfiebell too". Of all the truths told that night I think that blow hurt the most. As we discussed all the behind the scenes tales of her beloved Elf on the Shelf she made a connection between a moment that now made total sense:
Her: So that time when Addyson's elf fell over and then they came back into the room Buddy was sitting back up, that was Adam or Steph that moved him?
Her: Because you actually can touch the elf.
Him: Is that a rule? You aren't supposed to touch the elf?
Her: No, because if you touch it all the magic wears off.
Now, read that exchange again and picture McKenna using the most perfect use of air quotes around the word "magic" with a slight eye roll and you can image the pride her father felt at her immediate descent into the world of sarcasm.
Shortly after that we left her room. Basically immediately after that I started crying, concerned that she was now laying scared and alone in her room crying her eyes out and wondering what other lies we've led her to believe for nine consecutive years. Dave instructed me to go back and check on her (more for me than for her) and I found her there, wheels turning, totally calm and collected. Dave checked on her again after me and they both had a good laugh at what an emotional train wreck I am.
I've played out this scene in my heads dozens of time, always picturing it ending with McKenna in sobs and devastation. It goes to show that I don't give her nearly enough credit for how mature and grown up she can be - she handled this news like a champion. She has taken on this new responsibility of being in on a huge secret with enthusiasm and expertise, and yet again my heart swells with pride at the amazing human being we have the privilege of raising.