It was five am and I was creeping around the bedroom trying to find loose change to place under our youngest child’s pillow. She’d lost a tooth the previous day and I had woken up in a panic realising the Tooth Fairy hadn’t paid a visit.
Unable to see what I was doing, I turned on my mobile phone’s torch and accidentally shone it directly into my wife’s face, waking her up. With surprisingly good grace, Mrs Adams informed me she had already taken care of the situation.
You’d imagine this would be the end of the matter. Far from it. As if waking my wife up at five am by shining a torch in her face wasn’t bad enough, what followed was a bizarre turn of events that led to Izzy discovering the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.
A couple of hours after my little faux pas with my mobile phone, Helen, my eldest daughter, woke up and we started having breakfast together. I went to check on Izzy a few minutes later but found she was asleep. I gently had a few words and asked her to come down for breakfast. So far, so mundane.
It was at this point Mrs Adams told me she’d been unable to find a pound coin or two to leave under Izzy’s pillow. She’d only been able to find an English £10 note and a Scottish £5 note and had taken the decision to leave the £5 under her pillow.
I was a little surprised by this. It was considerably more than we, sorry, the Tooth Fairy, had previously given the kids. Also, the Scottish £5 note in question had been on my office desk for a couple of days. I thought there was a very high chance Izzy would recognise it.
Before I tell you what happened next, I have to confess I’m a bit ‘bah humbug’ about both the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas. I find it odd that us parents spend out lives telling our kids to be honest and yet when they loose a tooth or December 24 comes along, we lie to their faces and create this huge fantasy. Worse still, they’re huge fantasies that can come crashing down, as I was about to discover.
Over the years I’ve had to put my personal beliefs to one side and go along with the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas thing. It’s just too difficult to go against the grain because the traditions are so entrenched. What happened on this occasion was a funny story, but it shows exactly why us parents should have a major re-think about both of them.
So what happened? Well, Izzy never appeared at the breakfast table. As half past seven approached, I took it upon myself to check on her.
When I got to her room, I could see things had gone awry. The Scottish £5 had been flung out of her bed. My daughter was crying and wouldn’t speak to me.
Eventually Izzy opened up. She explained that the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist. She knew her mum and/or dad had put the money under her pillow. She’d recognised the bank note (keep this in mind, it’s relevant) and wanted an English one to replace it.
Although I thought the placing of this particular Scottish £5 note would probably blow the whole Tooth Fairy thing out of the water, I was a bit surprised by the strength of Izzy’s reaction. The previous Christmas she’d figured out the truth about Santa and hadn’t been remotely bothered.
While I was very concerned about Izzy being unhappy about the Tooth Fairy not being real, I was also worrying about other things. As every minute passed, we were getting closer to 8am. My children should have eaten and been getting washed and dressed by now. Helen was doing okay but if Izzy didn’t move quickly, the school run was going to be a disaster.
I had an idea. It was far from ideal, but I asked if she’d get ready quickly if I went down to the shop, broke the £10 note and returned with an English £5 note that she could have instead of the Scottish one.
She agreed, but there was one further demand. She wanted me to put her scooter in the car so she could scoot some of the way to school.
I was more than a little impressed by her negotiation skills. In fact, I felt just a twinge of pride. I’ve always encouraged my kids to develop bargaining skills and here she was, putting them to use.
She was using them against her own father, sure, but hey, that was my fault. Inside I was applauding her approach, even if I found it ludicrous that I was scrabbling around the dirty clothes on the bedroom floordrobe so I could find something to wear to the shops, unwashed and with unbrushed teeth, simply to get my hands on an English £5 note and placate my upset daughter.
Izzy got her £5 just a few minutes later. Her mood slowly improved and we got to school on time and I fulfilled my part of the deal by allowing her to scoot some of the way.
The punchline to this story? Well, that Scottish £5 note was no ordinary fiver. It was instantly identifiable and I wasn’t remotely surprised that Izzy recognised it as the one from my desk.
It was, you see, a limited-edition banknote dating from the early noughties. It stood put because it was paper and not plastic. Better still, it featured a distinctive image of the golfer Jack Nicklaus on one side. It was a foregone conclusion that Izzy would recognise it. The note was simply too unique for her not to realise where it had come from.
While I concede I find this element of the tale quite amusing, I also feel this is a perfect example of why we should rethink the Tooth Fairy and Santa thing. It’s fun and it’s harmless fun, until a child discovers the truth.
That said, I’ve had words with Mrs Adams. Apart from the fact she tried giving our daughter a limited edition banknote, no tooth is worth a fiver. A couple of quid at a push but a fiver? Absolutely no way.