The Tooth Fairy and other elements of American folklore: Emma Claire signs off for the semester

By Emma Claire Sohn

“Goodnight Sweetheart!”

Bedroom lights snap off. Covers pulled tight. Plush Pterodactyl gangled between two 7-year-old scabbed elbows, picked raw – you wait, the clock syncopating the silence. Twelve minutes pass, then an hour, a few more minutes trickle through before the door sighs open.

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You squint your eyes and your lashes canopy just enough light to peek through at lingering shadows, yet not enough to let on that you’re still awake. Perfecting the skill of fake sleeping is integral to a successful childhood, as is good deductive reasoning.

And as your head and pillow are wistfully lifted from your Sesame-Streeted sheets you recognize it – the recently bobbed hair, the waft of a familiar fabric softener. Grrr. Tooth-fairy schmooth fairy. It’s your mom. You knew it all along. Oh, how clever you are! You’ve learned a truth fundamental to any childhood and extracted another dollar from your parents’ pockets in the process.

You realize these things on your own. You don’t need your dentist to write a dissertation on why the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. You grow up, mature, and everything starts to make sense. Those Easter eggs, seamlessly placed around your yard despite the usual six inches of April-in-Chicago snow? The product of your parents’ good intentions and an extendable pool net.

The cookie crumbs left on the plate after Christmas Eve? Evidence of Mom’s midnight snack. Surely you weren’t duped by their simplistic foolery all along. But only when left to your own devices does the puzzle fit together.

By the same token I don’t need George Tenet to release a best seller outlining every utterance the Bush administration has misconstrued during its tenure to know it’s lied. The tooth fairy is fairly tangible in the face of Bush’s beguilling WMD allusions.

The Current Occupant and his cronies have pulled the wool over our eyes consistently for the past six years and we’ve willingly swallowed their fabrications with the promise of an additional few fabled tax dollars under our pillow serving as an easy incentive.

Look at the disaster we’ve inflicted upon Iraq, 102 dead on Monday alone. A similar catastrophic climax awaits Iran. Darfur’s unrelenting tragedy, the unforgiving eye of global warming – all pushed aside in favor of the administration’s Easter Bunny-like delusions.

Our good common sense is the only hope we have from succumbing to a similar fate. Couple that with the stick-it-to-em attitude that brought you to squint your wee little eyelids as your mother slipped a dollar under your dozing noggin, and we’ve got a fighting chance.

We the People have learned from our past misconceptions – our idealized views of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and the Bush administration. We will move on. And there is ample reason for hope, the 2008 Democratic candidates, for one. Seeing them, all lined up in a row last week at the South Carolina debate – audacious, ambitious, and fresh – brought butterflies to my tummy. So many untainted by the despicable crimes characteristic of so many of our politicians. Hopeful. Ready to change America, and the world. Just like you and me, the tender young students at this top notch University.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. Spread good Karma. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Give peace a chance. Choose whatever mantra, religion, political affiliation you want, but they all boil down to the good old-fashioned common sense that your parents instilled in your pretty little heads – alongside the dancing visions of Technicolor bunnies, and small-winged creatures that get their kicks from collecting discarded teeth.

Mill these sentiments together, and deliver them via the ballot box. Politics is a grimy business, but it’s the venue by which we exercise the non-partisan prudence realized through our shared childhood experiences.

Hope prevails through all. If there is nothing to live for, there is no life. I am not suggesting that we can single-handedly correct all that is wrong with the world.

I am suggesting we cannot resist the urge to try. And isn’t it lovely to think that it is within our power to do so?