Fairies help us link fantasy and reality: A love story


One of the most gratifying experiences
of being an older parent with a young child is allowing yourself
to become part of that child’s fantasy world. In our household, it extends beyond Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny deep into the world of fairies. The fairies bring good to us; they can also be a convenient scapegoat, oddly enough.

My daughter usually stands atop the closed (duh) toilet seat each morning and night when we brush our teeth. She pulls the cabinet door mirror close enough that she can see her reflection. (Her overwhelming interest in her own reflection is a thread through our lives.)

She had returned to camp yesterday, and last night we celebrated my birthday in our gazebo, in the back yard.

Once she had gone to bed, I went into the bathroom and saw the dirty smudges where she’d stood on the toilet seat cover. I was distracted before I could wipe them off, so they were still there this morning.

Fast forward. I’m folding clothes.

“Daddy, why is the toilet dirty? I need to go potty.”

I thought perhaps she was referring to my recent slackness in scrubbing the bathroom fixtures, so I followed her back.

She pointed at the smudges.

“Honey, those are from your dirty feet last night, when you brushed your teeth.”

“No they’re not. My feet were clean.”

“Seriously, honey, that’s what they are.”

I decided against checking the sheets on her princess bed. Probably wouldn’t have been anything to see, with her constant contortions. (Note to self: How she slept while camping.)

OK, I’m thinking. I won’t press the matter. Dirt smudges on the toilet lid is not on the list of chosen battles.

She re-examined the evidence.

“These are from the fairies,” she concluded. “See? That’s where their school bus was.”

Right. School bus? I’ll let that one pass.

This is what happens when the fairy garden in our kitchen becomes a pagan altar of sorts.

Notes, offerings and requests are left for the fairies.

In return, the fairies leave trinkets, small gifts, and notes of their own.

As we prepared to make our annual trek to the Gathering of the Vibes, my daughter came up with a creative but unusual request.

She gathered three photos of herself from last year’s Vibes, a small toy the fairies brought her while she was on vacation, and a pen and a pencil stored in a metal Muppets container.

Her note asked the fairies to please make a dress for her, with the elements she’d presented.

This was a pretty big challenge for the fairies. Her offering sat for a few days, while the fairies consulted with Amazon. When the answer to her request arrived, the fairies saw fit to return the wonderful gifts.

My daughter was thrilled when she came home from camp and saw what the fairies had delivered (she’d checked every day).

She carefully perused the items she’d left on the counter.

“The fairies kept the pen,” she announced.

“How could she figure that out?” I thought to myself.

Then, I saw the pen on the floor where it had rolled underneath the overhang of the cabinets.

I ducked down and snagged it, under the premise of scratching my foot. I slipped it in my pocket.

“Well, you know the fairies need a pen to write their notes,” I replied. (Good save, Dad, I thought to myself. Bernie Parent would be proud.)

She loved the dress — and wrote a note thanking the fairies.

She loves the fairies. But I think I might love them more.

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