"No!! Of course I'm not the tooth fairy. Why would you say something like that?," Matt replied back to her, trying very hard to contain his surprise at the question she asked him one evening while my parents were in town.
"That's what the book said you'd say to me." "The Librarian read us a story last week that said the tooth fairy was the last fairy to go, and that our parent's are really the tooth fairy and that they're the ones who take our teeth and leave us money."
Matt yelled for my dad and me to come into the bathroom where he retold us what Riley had said, and pointedly asked us if either of us were the tooth fairy.
"No Riley, none of us are the tooth fairy. Sorry to disappoint you." I said, while subtly making eye contact with Matt, acknowledging through our furrowed brows and shifty eyes the unspoken conversation.
We were both devastated.
As you know, the tooth fairy has been working overtime here in Chennai, with Riley losing five teeth in one month! Every time she lost a tooth, she'd excitedly put it in an envelope and wrote a note to the tooth fairy. And every morning when she woke up, she waited until we were all together to take the envelope from underneath her pillow, and read the note the tooth fairy wrote, all the while beaming from ear to ear.
Riley is only six years old. I wasn't ready for this fantasy to be extinguished. I needed to find out the truth to this story.
So last Tuesday I went to the school and confronted the Librarian about the story she read to the first grade class. She pulled up the book information on her computer and showed me the premise of the story. It was a book titled, "Dad, Are You The Tooth Fairy?" written by Jason Alexander. The book is about a little boy who grows up and starts hearing things that bigger boys rather not have heard ... who then asks his dad if he's the tooth fairy ... and then the story the father tells about magical creatures from long ago.
The Librarian boldly assured me that the story said nothing of parent's being the tooth fairy, and that there is no way that my daughter could have misconstrued the meaning of the book. So I asked her to let me read it. Which she did, while watching my every move from behind her desk.
And she was right. The story was fine for the first seven pages. But when I got to page eight, I could feel my ears get red and my lips pursing as the first of many inappropriate sentences were whirling in front of my very eyes. Sentences like ... "Gaby also heard (and I'm sad to say he listened) that tooth fairies were nothing more than childish make-believe. That it was really moms and dads who tiptoed into children's rooms, threw away the old teeth, and left gifts behind."
Or worse ... "From this day forth, your parents must take the teeth from beneath your pillows. Then they will sit in a quiet place with a pencil in their hands. They'll close their eyes and soon they'll hear a voice inside their heads." "The voice will tell them what to write and what treasures to exchange."
I didn't even finish the book before I loudly shut it, walked up to her desk, and told her that I wanted the book removed from the Kindergarten - 3rd grade reading material. Dumbfounded, all she could do was show me her computer again, verifying that the book states it's perfectly acceptable for KG- 3rd graders. All she could say was that it's been approved by the American Library Association, and she even read it last year and never had a complaint.
I told her that it didn't matter to me whether she had any complaints or not. The book delved into situations that weren't appropriate for the school to address. The book introduced situations that kids may not have even been aware... That unless these 1st graders had older siblings, or didn't observe the customs of the tooth fairy, that 6 and 7 year old kids probably never remotely dreamed that the tooth fair may be an adult. Why take away the magic? Why not let them believe? Moreover, why are you putting ideas into their heads that weren't even there in the first place?
The Librarian didn't understand. So I complained to the head Librarian at the school. He didn't understand either. Instead, he gave me paperwork to fill out that requests a reconsideration of school library material. Which I will do. And copy the elementary principal and head of school as well. Until then, I checked out the book and have no plans on returning it ... at least until I fill out the paperwork.
In my frustrated haze I left the library and ran into four mom-friends outside. I told them the brief story and read a few sentences from the book. Their jaws dropped as well. It confirmed exactly how I felt. Cheated.
It's been three weeks now and Riley hasn't talked about the book since her initial questions. We tried to sound as nonchalant as we could when she asked us, and never asked her any more questions, for fear she would see right through us.
However, she came home from school yesterday and told us that she just learned the library has only two kinds of books in it; fiction and non-fiction. And the Librarian made a point of telling the class the tooth fairy book she read was definitely fiction.
Whew... Good thing because Sheridan just lost her first tooth. Crisis averted for at least another month.
The note she wrote was...
"This is my first tooth and my mom pulled it out. Love, Sheridan"