Parents Beware Latest Childhood Myth: The Doughnut Fairy

Doughnut Creative CFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

My twelve-year-old son Ryan lost his last baby tooth a couple of days ago. I was out at the time and didn’t get home until after he was in bed, but he remembered to tell me the next morning. He had the tooth in a sandwich bag, which he dangled in front of my face before I’d even had my first cup of coffee. Ewww.

“So, what can I get for this I wonder?” he asked, cutting his eyes up at me for a reaction.

“Hmmm, I don’t know,” I responded. “It’s got a silver cap.”

“Those should be worth more,” he added quickly. “You know, silver and gold….”

Truth is, I was never a good tooth fairy. I never stayed awake long enough to safely slip into the kids’ rooms unnoticed. Without fail, the following morning I would always forget to collect the tooth and deposit the money while they were still sleeping. Poor little Ryan was no exception. I can’t even count the number of times I would remember while he was eating breakfast to rush upstairs, grab the tooth, and put a buck or two under his pillow.

“That’s funny,” he said after one such occasion. “When I woke up, nothing was here. I eat breakfast and the tooth fairy comes. How exactly does that work?”

“Even Ms. Tooth Fairy can run late you know,” I replied in all honesty. “Now hurry up and brush your teeth. You don’t want to miss the bus.”

The whole tooth fairy concept came to a traumatic crossroads when I was out of town on business and hubby called to tell me Ryan needed a button for a school project.

“Put him on the phone,” I said. “I’ll tell him exactly where to look.”

I directed Ryan right to the covered dish in my closet where I keep extra buttons. What I forgot at the time was that particular dish also contained several sets of baby teeth.

“MOM!” he practically screamed in my ear. “Why do you have all these teeth in here?”

I visualized him holding up the little bags to read the name identifying whose mouth it once belonged.

Another example of Tooth Fairy FAIL.

Realizing my blunder, I felt somehow relieved to think my tooth fairy days were finally over. This was obviously the time to come clean and tell Ryan the truth. Maybe I could clear up details about the Easter Bunny too. And Santa, of course. I took a deep breath and began…

“Well, Ms. Tooth Fairy has to carry a lot of teeth around and they get pretty heavy,” I offered. “Besides I like to save special momentos from your childhood, so I told her I’d like to keep your teeth. After she picks them up from you, she slips them under my pillow.”

Where did THAT come from, I asked myself in disbelief. It goes without saying that I’m not very good at revealing the truth behind popular childhood myths. One more year, I thought.

Ryan is a smart kid. He’s smart enough to know that if he plays along with Mom, he’ll get money under his pillow. He accepted my lame response and changed the subject.

Still, the tooth fairy adventure was down hill from there. After several Tooth Fairy no-shows, Ryan suggested the Doughnut Fairy instead. Essentially, whenever an unreliable fantasy gift-giving character falls down on the job, the Doughnut Fairy whispers in Ryan’s ear that hot doughnuts from the Krispy Kreme three miles down the road would be an appropriate substitute. I’ve made quite a few trips, needless to say.

I’m not sure what Ryan expects for his last baby tooth. He packaged it up nicely and turned it over to me for safekeeping. However, since the Easter Bunny got lost last Sunday on his way to Dog Hill, even Ryan knows two dozen doughnuts in one week is unacceptable. For the moment all is quiet, but I know that damned Doughnut Fairy is hovering nearby. I imagine that, until Ryan collects on his last baby tooth, it’s drawing interest, too. Lots of interest….

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Railroad Crossing Brings Memory of Train Hopping

A train in Kazakhstan.

Driving across town I was stopped when the railroad crossing lights flashed and the red and white bars lowered to halt traffic. It was a sunny spring day and I didn’t mind being caught on the waiting side of the track. I watched with child-like anticipation for the approaching train. In the U.S., trains bring a sense of nostalgia, a reminiscent feeling of yesteryear. I found myself feeling grateful for this moment as the black steel engine rolled noisily into view, followed by a succession of box cars. I noticed how slowly it passed and thought how easy it would be to jump. Instantaneously, I found myself half a world away on a cold January day in Akkol, Kazakhstan. That was the day I had run through the snow, thrown my suitcase onto a moving passenger train, and leapt on.

Jumping a train makes for a lasting memory. Even more so because my newly adopted children were already sitting onboard. The train had been late and, unable to wait any longer, I had run back into the station to go to the bathroom. Granted I was jet lagged, but It seemed only a moment that I was gone. Yet in that moment the train rolled in, picked up the few waiting passengers, and blew its whistle. When I returned, it was already rolling down the track. Standing at the only open door, my translator waved desperately and yelled for me to run. Run, I did!

I saw the eager faces of my six-year-old twin sons staring out the window as I ran alongside the track with my luggage. It was their first time on a train and they were too deliriously excited to understand that my missing it would not have reflected well on their new mom. Instead, they laughed joyfully and yelled for me to run in their sweet Russian-speaking voices.

Just ahead my translator reached for my suitcase with one hand while holding onto the train with the other. I flung it past her effortlessly, grabbed the metal bar next to the step, and hoisted myself into her open arms. From inside the passenger car I heard cheers and applause. I will never forget how I felt in that moment; surreal, as if acting a scene from a movie. It was my first and last train hopping and no-doubt one of my most exciting adventures.

My twin sons no longer remember the day they left their orphanage. They’ve long forgotten the train ride back to Astana where they played in the ice village in the evening after dinner. Nor do they recall flying to Almaty to visit the American Consulate and then taking the next plane to Moscow to finalize paperwork through the American Embassy before the long journey home. What they do remember was walking into our house for the first time and being greeted by two big dogs excited to meet them. They screamed in fear and hid behind me. Their first memory of coming home was the fear that my beastly dogs would eat them.

Memories are amazingly powerful and can be triggered by music, smells, and in this case the slow passing of a train. I was so deeply transported to another place and time that the car behind me honked to inform me the gates had reopened for traffic to cross. When my mind found its way back into the present moment, I had jumped the Akkol train several times to the cheers of my young sons.

I love reliving cherished memories that make my heart sing. Memories like this one where I was a super-shero, racing through the snow, throwing my suitcase onboard as if it were a shoebox, and then hopping a train.

Isn’t life one grand adventure?

Twins at Akkol Train Station

My newly adopted twin sons Alex (l) and Sergei waiting with the translator at the Akkol train station, Jan. 2001.

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After jumping the train, I celebrated with Sergei (l) and Alex.

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Twelve years later with Sergei (l) and Alex at their high school graduation.

 

Ah, Spring! How I Love Thee!

Spring on Dog HillEleven days in spring is a long time to be gone when you call North Carolina home. Here trees can sprout leaves overnight and grass can grow as high as your knees. One must take spring very seriously here — especially if one is a gardener.

I returned home from my trip to find dogwoods and redbuds in bloom, their respective creamy-white and magenta buds lighting up the gray backdrop I had left behind. I scanned the yard and saw the yellow arms of forsythia swaying in the gentle breeze as the white spirea danced joyfully. All around me trees had sprouted leaves which will soon blanket the woods with a thick canvas of green, screening the house from the street.

Ah, spring! How I love thee!

Never mind that my hands will soon be calloused from all the raking of leaves and digging to move plants from one place to another. Never mind that my fingernails won’t see anything but dirt for the next six months as I weed endlessly. Besides I love the smell of the earth, her soil rich and dark, just as I adore the aroma of burning brush.

Today I saw my first hummingbird of the season, hovering where the feeder usually hangs. This little feathered beauty knows exactly what is missing from this garden landscape and he’s demanding to know why I’ve fallen down on the job. Soon butterflies will flit amongst the lavender and yellow blooms of the buddleja, and the gardens, now only showing sprouts of green, will be overflowing with day lilies, echinacea, and rudbeckia.

When the sun warms a little more, we’ll spend every evening sitting on the back deck, looking into the picturesque landscape of trees stretching up to a perfect blue Carolina sky. Below us the young chicks will peck the ground for moving insects we can’t see. And, as the night begins to fall, the songs of the tree frogs and crickets will blend perfectly into a soothing melody.

This past winter was harsh, even for North Carolina, yet we bravely managed the cold. Now on the other side, we sneeze as we hose the yellow pollen from the loblolly pine off our cars for the second time today. Looking around, it’s a joy to see mother nature waking up after her long winter’s nap and waving her paintbrush to create strokes of rainbows everywhere.

Ah, spring! How I love thee!