My daughter yanked out her loose tooth on the bus to school the other day. She then preceded to stash the thing in her pocket all day so she could put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy. Her dollar was found the next morning, under her beloved Curious George toy, that has to be in bed with her every night. I delighted in all of this, I treasure it, because as unremarkable as it may seem, she is in 5th grade, and she still enjoys the magic of the tooth fairy, and a good stuffed animal. I love this!
When people hear that our kids still enjoy and entertain the mystery of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Leprechauns, the Easter Bunny etc, we have been given mean looks, literature, exasperated sighs and more. Some have told us that introducing our kids to these characters will cause them to question God, faith and the existence of Jesus, because we have lied to them. This infuriates me, possibly more than other parental judgements that are put out there, like breast milk versus formula.
As far as magical, mythical, characters, and the carrying on of their traditions goes, if it adds to the fun and wonder of my children's childhood, AWESOME! Their childhood threatens to be over too fast, every day. They are not sheltered from the hard things in life. They have experienced death of friends and loved ones, sickness, and the general struggle and unfairness that life can bring. Reality is not hidden from them, but we encourage, perpetuate, and revel in the continuation of the delight they have in Santa, the Tooth Fairy and friends. We want them to have fantasy, wonder and fun and we will work to continue that for them for as long as we possibly can, and then we will do it for their kids too!
As for their faith, I want them to question what they have learned. I don't want them to take what I say about Jesus to be the ultimate fact that they must believe whole heartedly, and never question. Because if they never question it, well, their "faith", or more accurately, my faith will implode on them. It will cave like a house of cards. Faith, following Jesus, believing in God all need to be personal to them. When the veil of fantasy is lifted on the Tooth Fairy someday, they may wonder what that means for God. While they look to the santa tricks, and the pretend games they will see us, but, when they look to the stories of how our family was formed and has come through things, I hope they will see God. I hope that they will know and see Jesus because He has been in front of them daily through the people in their lives that are following him. As we and our friends try and apply Jesus teaching to the ways we live our lives, and treat others, I pray that we are able to model faith, and who Jesus is well. As we attempt to learn scripture and apply it to our lives in our decision making, in our joy and struggle, hopefully they will see who God is, and they will decide to trust in Him too. I hope our love for them will model the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus. They know our church community is flawed, they have a pastor mom, but hopefully in the love, care, and fun they have experienced there, they will come to know their place in God's body. From us they will see all kinds of things modeled good and bad, and they will hear lots of conflicting messages. They will internalize all of those things, and the choice will be up to them. I don't know what they will choose, but I do know, good or bad, those things will speak louder than any thank you note from Santa.
If you do not want your kids involved with the likes of these questionable characters, that's cool. That's your deal, you can create fantasy and wonder for them some other way. Just don't roll your eyes at me, and keep your literature with studies and such to yourself. Oh, and if you are the person that ruins this for my kids, watch your back.
The girl may know differently, but if she does, she keeps it to herself and plays along. She eagerly awaits the fun, the magic, the escape from the day to day. And you know, even when she is far past that, when her wisdom teeth are removed, she is still going to get a visit from the tooth fairy. When she does, I doubt she will be bitter and angry about the deception her parents perpetuated. She may roll her eyes, but I suspect she will delight in the fun and wonder, and the memories of teeth under pillows, plates of cookies for Santa, and green Leprechaun footprints on the counter.