I was eight years old when I learned about tooth fairies. My sister was six. It was her tooth.
We were living in Egypt at that time. Lebanon was in the middle of its civil war; my father was stationed in Saudi Arabia, but we couldn’t join him yet. So, we lived in Cairo with my young mother.
The day my sister lost her first tooth, we were extremely excited to see what the tooth fairy would bring. But I was cynical.
How could there exist these magical creatures that we don’t see? And will they really come in the night to take a tooth? I suspected that if anything happened it would be my mother’s doing.
So I spent the entire day watching my mother. She wouldn’t leave my sight a single minute. I didn’t want her to sneak anything past me.
At bedtime, I pretended to be asleep just to watch the door and see if my mom would come into the room to replace the tooth (by now under my sister’s pillow) with a gift.
But I was only eight. I eventually fell asleep.
The next morning as soon as I opened my eyes, I ran to my sister’s bed and woke her up to check under her pillow. And there it was, true as day, a Barbie doll for my sister!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Since I had hawkishly kept an eye on my mother, and since I was so sure she hadn’t come into the room, there was only one logical explanation left for my eight-year-old brain: The tooth fairy is real!
My sister was screaming with joy, unboxing her full of the excitement of her years.
I jumped up and down, wide-eyed with realization that magic was real. “Tooth fairies are real, mama!” I was shouting to my mom. She smiled and patted my head.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, who went all the way to protect our childish sense of magic and mystery back then.
And to every mother who is doing the same today.