All of a sudden things don't seem to fit quite right.
Pants ride high. Shoes are tight. Belly buttons are peeking over waistbands.
All the clothes that were swimming on them last summer, it has become apparent, won't likely float them through another season.
And it's not just clothes.
So many ideas that once seemed set in stone are slowly turning to rubber.
The tooth fairy tripped up, pilfering a bill from my pocketbook that had been marked and duly noted by its newly toothless recipient.
The Easter Bunny doltishly stored his chocolate likenesses in the car, where they were easily detected by those who wouldn't sit still in their booster seats.
“Here's what I think,” ittybit said to the air, turning on heel to face me and choosing her words with the precision of a deft prosecutor as if giving her closing argument: “I think that YOU are the Easter Bunny … and the Tooth Fairy … and quite possibly Santa Claus. What do you have to say for yourself?”
I bristled under the glare of her accusatory spotlight. All of a sudden all that had once glittered in manufactured magic was exposed as a lie made of sinister intent.
Her eyes were asking: “What could you have gained from lying to a child.”
And at that moment I had to wonder the same.
What would have been the harm in quietly acknowledging milestones without introducing imaginary beings who possess gossamer wings, floppy ears or eight tiny reindeer?
“SHHHHHHHHHHHH,” I hiss. “Your brother can hear us. … Do you really want the truth?”
She nods her head, she's ready. It's time.
Time for the speech I've practiced in my head since the moment I started planting phony evidence (at least thrice-yearly) of mythical beings sneaking around our house as we sleep.
“Technically it's true that your father and I have done much of the shopping and placement of holiday gifts. And, essentially, it's true that much of what you can't see requires varying amounts of faith and, now, skepticism.
But there comes a time when the simple answer … perhaps even the least satisfying answer … is the answer that you can't ignore.
“And yet as you come to accept this disappointment, you also have to come to terms with the idea that the truth isn't really that simple, either.
“This magic wasn't sculpted out of lies and wishful thinking. It was crafted from all the things we try to cultivate in ourselves: generosity, feeling special in the world and that the unimaginable is possible.”
“The Easter Bunny may not be a furry,bow-tied basket delivery animal in the you-might-actually-get-a-glimpse-of-him-on-the-lawn-one-fine-Easter-morning sense, but that doesn't mean the imagination behind such an idea is valueless.
“It's not a lie … it's a parable. It's not history it's poetry.”
My words had come tumbling out in her direction willy-nilly like Super Balls. I could see in her expression that some of them were sailing right over her head as others were breaking her heart.
Nevertheless, her eyes were dry and placid. I wasn't telling her anything she hadn't already figured out on her own.
But the question that remains has to do with how to proceed.
The Champ grabs the not-so-cleverly-hidden chocolate bunny and holds it up. “What is this doing here?” he wonders. “Why would the Easter Bunny put chocolate in my mom's car?”
Before I could open my mouth to throw a bunch of wordy Super Balls his way, she intervened.
“The bunny is just getting old and senile. Probably hid it here last year and forgot all about it. I wouldn't eat that if I were you.”
He smiles a devilish grin and unwraps a section of milk chocolate ear. She rolls her eyes as he bites down.
She' may have outgrown these particular clothes, but she can admit they are still a pretty good fit for her brother.