A while back (before kindergarten started) Elie posed a shocking question while we were driving in the car (oh yeah, the car is where the most painful of conversations take place, it's like a vacuum where children are only allowed to ask hard questions, seriously). She asked if the tooth fairy was real. WHAT??? Oh yeah, out of the mouth of a little girl who hasn't even LOST a tooth yet, a little girl who witnessed the magic that a house full of adults created for her cousin when he lost his first tooth, a little girl who just a few months ago was PLANNING on being a tooth fairy when she grew up. She had it all lined up. She was going to be a teacher during the day and at night she was going to go to fairy school where she would learn to make herself so small she could sneak into houses at night and gather teeth. Then we she was done with school, being a tooth fairy would be her nightime job.
When she asked me this question I was shocked. I was amazed. Why is she asking this?? Why can't she be asking about why the sky is blue? How do cars work? Where do babies come from?????? I hemmed, I hawed, I finally reached back to my parents' wisdom and said "What do you think?" "I don't think she really exsists. I think she's imaginary. Am I right?" HOLY COW! It's come to this!!! "I think we'll have to see what happens when you loose your first tooth." "Yeah, we'll just have to see."
So she doubts the tooth fairy. But then, just last week they talked about Noah's Ark in Religious school. I happen not to believe that every single story in the Torah really happened. Call me a heretic if you like, but I just don't. She came home in quite a funk and when she started talking she told about a video they watched, told the whole story of the flood, and says "And it REALLY happened." Oh. My. Gosh. It didn't happen, God didn't flood the earth, Noah didn't have a giant boat with all the animals, I'm pretty darn sure it didn't go down like that AT ALL. The worst part was she was in tears. So I talked with her about how it is a story with a moral and that it didn't really happen. I'm not sure she really believes me, but I sure hope she does.
Am I the doubter or is she? Who knows? Life is so complicated and hard to explain. It's so clear to me how my beliefs and perceptions shape what she is going to see and do for the rest of her life, but I don't want them to over ride her thoughts and experiences. Do I insert my own beliefs? Do I always give her the whole truth? How do I teach her to question and challenge, without becoming someone who believes in nothing? What do I believe in? Magic? God? Science? Who are all these questions really about? Do I not know the answers because I don't know what I believe in? That might be part of it. I want her to believe in the tooth fairy, magic is, well, magical. Maybe her belief in the tooth fairy today might spark in her a desire to seek magic in everyday occurences later. But will NOT believing that God flooded the earth, in anger and dislike, cause her to later doubt the exsistence of a being with higher powers?
What the hell are the answers to all these questions? Can I push pause, go on a spiritual search and then come back to the game?
I believe in love. I believe in a higher power. I believe in the power of nature. I believe in the power of science. I believe in the power of questions and of knowledge. I believe I can give my children the tools they need to live good, fufilling, amazing lives. And I might just, still, believe in the tooth fairy.