Okay, I screwed up. It was Thanksgiving Day and I was just beginning to wind down from the start of the school year. The night before I stayed up all night reworking my novel and creating the outline I am following today. I had decided, despite my lethargic side screaming 'NOOOOOO', to rewrite my entire novel in the third person. The 80,000+ word draft in first person simply did not work. The storyline w.as there, the characters had been developed, but only by the time I had reached the end of the story. I knew that but sent to my editor and prayed she could figure out what it needed to work. She came back with the answer I already knew... rewrite it! I went through all the stages of grief and ended up at acceptance. That night I took control and began the current journey.
At least I could hold on to the fact that I was a good father... right???
So it was Thanksgiving morning. I was still a bit tired from staying up way past my bedtime when I walked into my daughters room. She was crying. Nothing breaks a father's heart more than watching their daughter cry.
"What's wrong?" I ask rushing over to comfort her.
She held up her tooth with tears streaming down her face, "The tooth fairy didn't come." Boy was I in big trouble. What possible reason could there be for the tooth fairy not showing up? Could my quick wit or ability to think fast on my feet save me? Was this the moment she would always point to in therapy years later?
I embraced her, "Oh, I thought you knew. The tooth fairy doesn't work on Thanksgiving."
You have to admit that was a pretty good answer off the cuff.
Her mom and I talked as we have to often about events like these and saved our daughter from the tragedy of growing up too soon. There's enough kids have to deal with at a much earlier age in today's world. It's nice when we can cling on to a few of the magical moments of childhood and use the creative side of our brains to enter a world that seems forever ago for most of us. Since Malia's mom and I are divorced we have to come up with all kinds of ways to keep the magic going. It's much better than what I'm guessing it will be like in her teenage years. Talk about a time when you really need to think creatively. Just recently we had another run in with the tooth fairy. She lost her tooth the other morning, it was the size of the treats I use to train our new puppy, and left it at our house. Notes were written and phone call were made and money was (with cunning skill I might add) put under a pillow. It all worked out and I went into my usual bloviating about the bylaws parents receive from all the mythical creatures like the tooth fairy on what to do in certain situations. Perhaps someday I'll write them out and turn it into a story.
In my writing it's moments like these that continue to remind me that people are for the most part good. Certainly mistakes are made and some of us get way off track but even when bad things happen, like divorce, God can still work good out of it. I always try and remember that our daughter deserves all of us to be happy: mom, dad, step parents, and so on.
I am very fortunate to live the life I do today... even if I have to rewrite an 80,000 word novel.
My daughter and I keep fighting over whether or not the tooth fairy is a guy or a gal. Either way, despite his union contract that does not allow him to work holidays (he still gets paid for it) there is much we can learn from him. Like how we can go back and rewrite the book of life. Certainly we can't change the past but we can make up for it. We can learn from our mistakes. Our children can learn from us that it's how we handle our mistakes that matters. I've learned that situations like forgetting to put money under a pillow will happen to me, and I will not always come up with the right response.
But I get to be present in her life today.
And finally, a word to all those fathers out there, you do make a difference. It's up to you what that will look like. If you choose to stick around and fight the fight there will be some rough patches.
But then the day will come when your child's world will come to an end, and the tooth fairy takes an unexpected day off, and as you wipe the tears from her face you realize that these are the moments worth living for. That it is her dreams that keep me chasing my dreams.
So I trudge forward rewriting the novel. Praying for the strength to use my time wisely. Doing my best to remember to live life between chapters. And hoping I can remember if I told my daughter that the tooth fairy gets federal or state holidays off.