Memory can be tricky, and sometimes when we tell a story we can embellish it slightly to make it more appealing to the listener. If the bones of the story remain true then there is probably no real harm done, particularly if it is a good or amusing tale. When something happens that is remarkable I want to remember it, and I have often wondered why I didn’t write things down at the time so that I could remember every little detail and nuance of what it was that I wanted to remember. Life happens and interrupts all these good intentions and resolutions, and sometimes memories fade and are lost.
Tonight I was gazing into my back garden looking in wonder at the solar sparkly fairy lights that my darling sister Annie bought for me before she died three years ago. They were shining brightly in the darkness despite the years that have gone since she died, when suddenly I remembered a fairy story from my own past.
It involved my then six year old daughter Jayne and her first baby tooth which had fallen out during the day. At the time I told my children (like many other parents) that if the child put their tooth under their pillow at night time, the fairies would come and take that tooth, carve it into toys for the baby fairies, and that they would leave money in its place under the pillow. This story needed little embellishment and most children knew the drill and minded those precious tiny teeth until they could be safely stored under the pillow in return for cold hard cash.
During that day Jayne wandered around the house with her precious tooth rolled up in a wad of tissue paper clutched tightly in her little hand. She was noticeably quiet, and a few times as she drifted past me during the afternoon I clearly remember asking her if she was alright. She was vague, but replied that she was fine. I watched her doing the strangest things like sitting on the floor in the sitting room, gazing up the chimney for a long long time. Our chimney was manually blocked up as we had gas central heating but there was a working fireplace in the house that we didn’t use. She also stood on the top of the sofa in the window area in the sitting room and opened and closed the windows! When I asked he what she was doing, her reply was “I’m just checking”…..
She spent a long time in the downstairs toilet and she flushed it several times while the door was open and when I asked her again if she was alright, she reassured me that she was “fine”. All through that afternoon she checked exterior doors and windows. I was highly amused but as I was busy with household chores, getting dinner ready etc, I really didn’t pay too much attention or press her on her investigative meanderings and never linked her behaviour to the recently “lost” tooth.
While we were sitting having dinner that evening she was quietly munching away when she put down her knife and fork and announced that she had “finally worked it out”. “Worked what out?” I replied.
In one of the sweetest moments of my life my little six year old daughter told me that the whole day she had been worrying as to how the fairies would get into the house to take her tooth for their fairy baby’s. She had checked the windows and doors and as we lived in a City she knew that they would be well secured when we were asleep and in our beds. She had checked the toilet and knew that they couldn’t get in that way and the chimney was blocked so that was not the entry point for sure.
She smiled with the conviction of Agatha Christie as she told me that there was not one fairy that arrived and took the precious tooth and left the money, but that there were in fact seventeen fairies involved in the operation. “Really” I asked humorously, “how have you worked that out”? Her reply was “Well I figure that it takes sixteen fairies to open the letterbox (which was a tightly sprung brass fixture on our front door) and only one fairy to fly up the stairs to collect the tooth”!
That was a beautiful and special moment. A moment that will be forever etched in my memory as I looked upon her innocent little face, so pleased with herself having worked out the miracle of how the tooth fairy accomplished the swap.
I promised myself that I would write it down, but I didn’t. I remembered it though with clarity throughout my life as I promised myself that I would record it. Perhaps that childish logic was the basis for her scientific persuasion and her eventual career in the police force, who knows. I am just glad that finally I have written it down and can faithfully attest that it is the absolute truth with no embellishments. This is the way that it happened.
Was it part of her destiny to establish the facts or was it part of mine to wonder at her innocence. Who knows, but I believe that it’s a great story that needed to be told.