Grasping at straws

So my son -Leo?- I may have mentioned him a time or two (or a million) before on this blog, lost a tooth today at camp. He was thrilled.

“I can’t wait to put this under my pillow for the tooth fairy,” he said.

“Why,” I asked.

“You’ll see.”

Later on, Leo found a very nice card and a very nice pencil and he sat down to work.

“Mom,” he said. “How do you spell ‘fairy’?”

I told him. The house deepened into open-mouthed silence. Then:

“Mom,” he said. “How do you spell ‘please’?”

Then: “How do you spell ‘bucks’?”

Finally, after a long time working, he came to my office to show me his work. It was in his very best handwriting. Each word was exactly one fingerspace from the word before it. He had decorated it with wings and hearts and lightsabers.

“You worked hard,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “Because I have a new strategy.”

“For what?”

He looked over his right shoulder. Then over his left. Then he cupped his hands around my ear and whispered earnestly. “I know how I can get a Lego Death Star.”

Ah, the Lego Death Star! Lego Death Star II Coming Soon

It is, in the Barnhill house, the Holy Grail of toys! It is our World Cup, our Pennant, our dragon’s gold, our doorway to Valhalla! It haunts Leo’s dreams and occupies his waking moments. It is all he wants, all he dreams about. It is the one thing – the one thing! – that child covets.

“A lego Death Star?” I asked incredulously.

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. The tooth fairy! The tooth fairy has LOTS of money!”

He showed me his note.

Dear Tooth Fairy, his note said. Here is my tooth. I took care of it. Please give me 400 bucks. Love, Leo.

Then, he lovingly placed the note in a quart sized ziplock with his tooth, decorated it with stickers for good measure, and put it under his pillow.

Right now, that child is dreaming of going to Legoland in the Mall of America, plunking down his four hundred bucks in shiny new quarters, and skipping home with the death star under his arm.

Right now, under his pillow, is a new note.

Dear Leo, the note says,

After careful consideration, we decided, instead of four hundred bucks, to give you four quarters.




The Tooth Fairies.


Who’s the meanest mom alive? This girl, right here.

7 thoughts on “Grasping at straws

  1. OMG. How much do I love this story!!

    And trust me, you aren’t the meanest mom alive. At least you remembered! With my youngest son I botched the tooth fairy thing so many times, it’s mortifying. The first couple of times I was able to palm a dollar bill and pretend he just hadn’t looked hard enough, but boy, I totally botched that part of his childhood.

    Also talk about grasping at straws, my oldest son had a real life PACIFIER fairy. There was a toy he wanted more than anything in the world, and we got the bright idea that he could leave his pacifier under his pillow in exchange for it. It totally worked, too! For about a week, and then he started sucking his thumb. 🙂

  2. Mean? Hardly. You teaching your son the first rule of being a capitalist, if you want to raise your price, you have to add value. Granted he did add value, but not $400 of value. Had my son been devious enough about the value of his teeth to attempt such a deal I would have been strongly tempted to reward his efforts. Not with $400 mind you, and not anything even remotely close. Make the reward too valuable then all the kids will all be doing, and at every opportunity. No, that won’t do. The note sounds like a nice compromise. You have provided him with exactly the same value he gave. (That’s not quite true. You happen to make money when you write, he does not. Presumably when you write a note it contains more monetary value. Possibly this is offset by the emotional value he provides to his notes) In any event, well done.

    Our son is now 10, and has the lego death star (thank you Santa), but only because his mom uses the internets as a finely honed weapon to find the very best price imaginable. Her shopping Fu is strong.

    BTW; I stumbled upon your work when I got Weird Tales #350, and greatly enjoyed “The Stone-Hearted Queen”. Such a wonderful story. A story-tellers story. I can’t wait until Jack comes out.

    • Your wife must come to my house and be my shopping fu trainer. I shall call her master.

      And thank you so much for your kind words re: The Stone Hearted Queen. And I hope you enjoy JACK!

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