Dammit! Who told you about that?
No one! I mean…I just…I...I don’t understand. What’s the problem?
Look, I don’t even want to talk about this.
But, this could be so helpful for other mothers.
No. No, it can’t.
What do you mean?
I mean…. Wait….you know what? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you alllll about it. Then you can decide if I am a good example, or a horrible warning.
Great! So, what’s the secret?
The Goodnight Fairy.
The Goodnight Fairy? I don’t get it. I’ve never heard of The Goodnight Fairy.
Of course you haven’t. I made her up.
You made up a fairy?
Yes. I did. And now I hate her.
How can you hate an imaginary fairy that helps your child go to sleep?
Because she doesn’t.
She doesn’t what?
She doesn’t help your child go to sleep. And she didn’t help me get any sleep, either. Bitch.
Now I’m confused.
Okay. Okay. I guess I should start at the beginning. See, Iris saw something on Sesame Street or Super Why or one of those shows about the Tooth Fairy. And, from that point on, it was “the Tooth Fairy this” and “the Tooth Fairy that”; she just wouldn’t stop talking about it.
Does Iris understand about the Tooth Fairy?
Not really. Well, maybe a little. The show, apparently, just said that the Tooth Fairy comes and visits kids and leaves something under their pillow. So, I told her the truth…that she’d have to lose a tooth before the Tooth Fairy comes to visit and she started crying, “I don’t want to lose my teef!! I don’t want to lose my teef!!”
Awww. That’s so cute!
No it isn’t! It is NOT! She cried for twenty minutes because she was afraid I was going to make her lose her teeth! It wasn’t cute at all. Then she cried for another half hour because I explained that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t come if she didn’t lose a tooth. Then she cried some more because I told her that it would be years before she lost a tooth. For those of you doing the math at home, that’s more than a full hour of crying. Right while I was trying to get Iris to go to bed. Which is why I made up the Goodnight Fairy. Because my husband, Quinten, was out of town and I needed the crying to stop and because I needed Iris to go to bed. Also because I am, apparently, not as smart as I think I am.
What, exactly, is the Goodnight Fairy?
Well, I told Iris that the Goodnight Fairy comes to visit children that go to sleep at bedtime like good little girls and boys. She asked me if the Goodnight Fairy would bring her a goodie like the Tooth Fairy does.
And what could I say? Of course the Goodnight Fairy brings goodies. But only if you’re good and go to sleep at bedtime. Iris then theorized that, since they both bring goodies, the Goodnight Fairy and the Tooth Fairy must be sisters.
Are they sisters?
Are you high? They are IMAGINARY. They are NOT REAL. They cannot be sisters because they do not exist!
Well, how did Iris react when you told her that?
Seriously? I’m not a complete dolt. I wasn’t going to tell a three-year-old child that fairies aren’t real! Why would I do that? Children are supposed to believe in magic and all that other bullshit. Of COURSE I told her the Goodnight Fairy and the Tooth Fairy are sisters. It made her happy. And it was definitely faster than arguing the point with a three-year-old.
Was she excited about the Goodnight Fairy?
Sure. Wouldn’t you be excited if you were going to get a goodie when you woke up? And, at least that first night, the Goodnight Fairy was successful. Iris went to sleep like a champ. I did not hear a peep out of her all night long. It was like a miracle. I felt very clever. All that evening, I congratulated myself on how awesome and creative a mother I was. I may have toasted myself with my Crystal Light before I went to bed. I even wrote Iris a note that purported to be from the Goodnight Fairy and left her a little present on her dresser because she’d been such a good girl.
This is amazing!
Yes, it was amazing. For exactly twelve hours. Then Iris woke up.
Well, the present I’d put on Iris’s dresser was a little toy. A small My Little Pony figurine I’d purchased and hidden so I could use it as reward sometime (Mom Trick #483). She really likes My Little Pony and had a number of pony figurines that she was always playing with. And this one wasn’t just a pony, it was a pony princess. I thought she’d be thrilled to see it sitting on the dresser with the note from the Goodnight Fairy. Instead, she cried.
Yes. A full-on, snot-running-down-the-face-screeching-words-you-can’t-understand crying jag.
Because Iris thought the Goodnight Fairy would bring her a goodie.
Wait. There was a goodie, wasn’t there?
Yes. By my definition, there was a goodie sitting on the dresser. By your definition, there was a goodie on the dresser. By Iris’s definition? Goodie means food. Preferably something chocolate. And then things got worse.
Yes. Worse. See, Iris was very disillusioned and I thought maybe the Goodnight Fairy, having not brought an acceptable goodie the night before, had lost her luster. I thought maybe Iris wouldn't want the Goodnight Fairy to visit and I could put the whole episode behind me. I thought maybe I could forget I had ever even tried to be clever. But I was so completely wrong as to have transcended mere wrongness into something so much worse. That night, Iris kept asking if the Goodnight Fairy would be visiting her. Asking and asking and asking and asking. So I told her that, yes, if she was good and went to sleep at bedtime like she was supposed to, then the Goodnight Fairy would pay a visit. But, I added, she would not be bringing any food. Maybe a toy, but no food. Iris seemed to accept this, but then she said the thing that should have scared me, “I’m going to see the Goodnight Fairy tonight.” I'm so stupid I didn't even really pay attention.
I should have paid attention. Because, at midnight, Iris woke me up with her yelling. I thought she'd had a bad dream or had fallen out of bed or something. Adrenaline pumping, I woke up ran into her room. She was sitting up in bed, grinning, “Mommy? Is the Goodnight Fairy here? Can I see her???” It took me five minutes to get her back to sleep and another half hour for me to get back to sleep.
At 2:00am, I had to explain to Iris that the Goodnight Fairy couldn't come to visit if Iris wasn't actually asleep. Iris spent twenty minutes singing herself back to sleep while I cursed myself for trying to be creative.
At 4:00am, after I'd gotten Iris to go back to sleep for the third time, the Goodnight Fairy sat down and wrote Iris a stern note explaining that getting up multiple times a night to try to see a fairy was very, very naughty and Iris wasn’t going to get any kind of treat at all.
Did the note help?
You tell me. On the third night, Iris didn't wake up at all. But, before she crawled in bed, she insisted on drawing theGoodnight Fairy a picture as a present. And I realized I didn’t have any little toys to leave on the dresser. While I dug around in the toy closet to see if there was something in there that Iris might have forgotten about and I could pass off as "new," I realized that I really had not thought this thing through.
What do you mean?
You know how the Tooth Fairy only comes when a kid loses a tooth? Well, kids go to bed every fucking night.
I don’t get it.
You really aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you? What I mean is that there was no natural end to this. I hadn't built in an out; I hadn't made the Goodnight Fairy visits finite in nature. See, I didn’t want to give Iris a note and a toy every fucking time she went to bed like a good girl. That could go on every night for years. YEARS! At least until Iris finally figured out that fairies aren’t real. The way this was playing out, I was going to have to write notes and spend a fortune on little, crap toys because the Goodnight Fairy was never going to go the fuck away.
Ohhh. So, what did you do about that?
I had to figure out a reason for the Goodnight Fairy to get the hell out of Dodge. So, I told Iris that the Goodnight Fairy only comes around to help kids whose Mommy or Daddy are out of town for a while. That, when Daddy came back from his business trip, that the Goodnight Fairy wouldn’t be coming back.
Did she accept that explanation?
Are you kidding me? Hell, no! Quinten has been back for four days now and Iris is STILL asking if the Goodnight Fairy is coming back. Last night, she decided that, because Quinten was walking our dog, Penny, at bedtime, that he was “Away” and that meant the Goodnight Fairy would come to visit.
Oh no. What are you going to do?
You know how, in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell needs applause? Something like if no one pays attention to a fairy, she dies? I’m hoping that, if I just don’t talk about the Goodnight Fairy, that bitch will fucking kick the bucket.
That’s kind of evil. Do you think it will work?
You tell me. It’s almost bedtime right now, and Iris just brought me a drawing she wants to leave out for the Goodnight Fairy because Daddy is "Away" walking Penny again. I'm pretty sure I'm doomed.