A routine note to the Tooth Fairy leads our columnist to a big realization about her daughter.
Around my house, we are currently in the stage of all the teeth falling out. Luckily the teeth are my children’s and not my own.
My son, Levi, has his first wiggly tooth and is so excited I’m surprised he hasn’t run into a door to knock it loose. My daughter, Lily, has been losing them left and right (and top and bottom) and it was after one of these dental treasures was lost that I learned everything I’ve been telling her is actually sinking in. I am winning at motherhood, y’all.
Shortly after she showed me the lost tooth, she began writing a letter to the tooth fairy.
“Mom, how do you spell dollar?” she asked.
“D-o-l-l-a-r,” I spelled, “Why? Are you asking the tooth fairy for a dollar?”
“Nope. I’m asking her for ten dollars.”
I was a bit taken aback and stifled a laugh. “Baby girl, I don’t think …”
And then I stopped myself.
My first instinct was to explain that the tooth fairy wasn’t going to bring her $10. That she shouldn’t get her hopes up. That she needed to be realistic about the whole situation, so she wasn’t disappointed.
But I was suddenly reminded of all the things I’ve been teaching her about being brave and bold.
I teach her to be direct and ask for what she wants. This was a lesson I was never taught. I was taught to be appreciative of whatever I received rather than asking for more, working for more, seeking for more.
I teach her to dream big. When I grew up, I did hear “you can be anything you want to be,” but nothing specific about what I, Toni, could really accomplish. In contrast, I teach Lily that if she wants to be an artist, she can be the most famous artist in the world if she practices and works hard. If she wants to be a dancer, she can dance for her job and be successful and happy if she’s willing to try and go for it. She can be and do anything she wants if she works hard and works smart.
I teach her to never be afraid of the word “no.”
Note that this doesn’t mean I encourage her to ask over and over again for another piece of candy after I’ve said she can’t have any more. She does her part, which is to ask for what she wants, and I do my part, which is parenting. I remind her about rules and consequences. I remind her that her responsibility is to listen to me the first time and move on. I’m raising a go-getter, not a spoiled Veruca Salt.
But it’s also my responsibility to help her find other ways to achieve her goals and dreams. I may tell her, “No you can’t have that toy right now, but you can do extra chores to earn the money” or “No, you can’t have your own art show today, but if you keep creating and practicing, you will someday.” I teach her that there is always another way to make things happen.
When she asked the Tooth Fairy for that big payday, my little girl was following all of these rules. She was listening when I told her over and over that she’s strong and smart and powerful and special. It was getting into her heart to unapologetically ask for big, huge, scary things. She knew it was possible she’d hear “no,” but she was going for it all the same. (And she did hear the word “no” because I wasn’t going to give her $10 for a tiny tooth. Another rule I’ve taught her is to be grateful for all things, so she was stoked in the morning to find $1 under her pillow.)
As the memories of all that I’ve been teaching her came flooding back, I walked over, kissed the top of her head, and said, “Well done, Lils. You never know until you try, right? I’m really proud of you for going big and asking for what you want. There’s a lot of grown-ups that won’t even do that.”
I am one of those grown-ups and watching her bravely swing for the fences inspires me to do the same.
Toni Hammer helps boss moms get over their fears and doubts so they can boldly share their stories on social media and attract their dream clients. You can find out more at tonihammer.com.