What we pay attention to, and how we pay attention, determines the content and quality of life.
-M. Csikszentmihalyi, 2003
Labor Day weekend 2012 found our entire family at our mountain cabin. Our granddaughter, Katie, age 7, came running to a group of us and announced that she had lost another tooth. She was so excited! “Wow,” we all responded with appropriate enthusiasm. Aunt Julie asked, “Will the tooth fairy find you here?”
In a confident tone Katie responded, “Well she always finds me at Catalina and when I am on my trips. I think she will find me here! I cannot believe that it fell out while I was eating an Oreo!”
A little later, her 10 year-old sister, Ella, came in and announced that she too had lost a tooth.
“Oh, no,” I said. “What is happening to your teeth girls? Is it the candy?”
“No, Mimi. You silly. It is natural, our permanent teeth are coming in!”
“Oh,” I responded thoughtfully.
Not much more was said about the lost teeth, as Ultimate Frisbee was played, a contingent went on an exploratory hike, then dinner, and finally a big dance.
After the dance, everyone went to bed. Suddenly my daughter, their aunt Julie, realized as she was fluffing her pillow that perhaps her brother and sister-in-law forgot about the tooth fairy. Julie found Katie’s older sister, Jill. In an urgent whisper she asked, “Jill, did they forget the tooth fairy?”
“Oh gosh, I’m not sure. I’ll go ask my parents.” Jill quietly roused her dad who was asleep. “Dad, did you guys do the tooth fairy?”
“Oh, no! I forgot all about it. Take care of it for me. Please.” And he rolled over and went back to sleep.
Jill came back downstairs and reported, “Aunt Julie, they forgot.”
Julie frantically rummaged through her purse and found only twenties and a five. She knew Ella had also lost a tooth that day. She needed to find some money fast! The usual tooth fairy amount was two dollars per tooth. Julie ran around the cabin asking anyone who was still awake, “Do you have some ones? “
Jake, her 17-year-old, responded, “Mom, I have a five. But it is only a loan!”
“I’ll take it!”
With that Julie slipped quietly into the little girls’ room. She bent down to kiss each sleeping girl good night and surreptitiously slipped a five under each pillow.
Julie came upstairs to where her dad and I were reading in our room and reported this little drama of how Rick and Jenny forgot to be the tooth fairy! We laughed and thought maybe by the last of five girls, it is harder to remember all these details. We said goodnight and enjoyed talking about Julie’s little adventure.
Early the next morning, I awoke and quietly went downstairs for coffee. Katie was already up and had quite an exciting story to share.
“Mimi, you won’t believe this,” she paused and took a breath, “But that tooth I lost yesterday must be my lucky tooth because I am seven! Guess how much the tooth fairy left?”
“I think two dollars.”
“No, Mimi. It must be my lucky tooth. She left five dollars! I just knew she would find me here but five dollars?! I cannot believe it! What is so odd is that when I went to the bathroom about an hour after I had gone to sleep, I found the money on the floor near my pillow. Maybe when I turned my pillow, it fell to the floor. It seems funny that the tooth fairy came so fast!”
This little vignette illustrates the sheer joy children are able to find in small events, and as adults I think it is important for us to search out these precious moments when we can. It seems like when we are successful in appreciating the little things, they can string together to create happiness. I know they do for me. I hope Katie is not getting suspicious…… My best, Donna aka Mimi