Sometimes I feel like I’ve got this whole Aspie thing under control. I know what will knock Monkey for a loop. I prepare him ahead of time for trouble spots, or sense when things are about to get ugly and take him aside.

Sometimes I don’t realize or see what what will set him off, and I feel alternately inept and callous as I try to both get him in line and soothe him. Like, yes, honey, no one likes to wait an hour for the doctor, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s okay to answer his, “And how are you?” greeting with “I’m PRACTICALLY DEAD because we’ve been waiting here FOREVER and I’m BORED.” (Bonus: I apologized to the doctor, which only irritated Monkey further. “Why are YOU sorry? You’re not the one who made us wait!”)

Sometimes I forget things. And sometimes I have to make decisions on the fly before I have time to think about them.

Monkey lost his last tooth… I don’t even know. Years ago. Kids lose and grow teeth for years and then it kind of stops for a while, or at least that’s how it’s been for both of my kids. And this week, suddenly, Monkey had two loose teeth again. That was delightful because it meant his hands were constantly crammed in his mouth. (Sensory issues + loose teeth = BIG FUN!) I guess he’s always done this, but he was maybe eight or nine the last time he had a loose tooth, and now he’s eleven and a half and it just seems… inappropriate.

So: loose teeth. Hands in mouth. Admonitions to take his hands out of his mouth. Complaints during dinner. Hands in mouth. And then—Monkey ran into my office last night with a tooth in hand, triumphant.

“Nice work, buddy!” I said. “You must feel relieved to have it out!”

“Yep! I’m gonna put it under my pillow for the tooth fairy!”

I looked at him. He looked at me. Trying very hard to keep my voice neutral, I said, “Don’t you think… maybe… you’re a little old for the tooth fairy?”

“Why?” He looked genuinely puzzle. “I don’t think the tooth fairy cares how old I am, Mom. That’s silly. Can I have a Ziploc for my tooth?”

I gave him the Ziploc. I started to say something else, but I stopped. The tooth fairy has always been true for him. He’s very rigid. The fact that his peers figured this out years ago means nothing to him; he has no reason not to believe. I thought about this past Christmas, when he still clearly very much believed in Santa, and none of us let on.

Because for every bit of rigid “do it all over again” and “do it the RIGHT way” insanity that he inflicts, there is also this: He believes in magic, with the same fervor. Still. Did I want to take that away from him? (Also, I’m not sure I’m fully recovered from his sister’s disillusionment lo these many years ago.)

After the kids went to bed, Otto and I watched some TV until it was time to turn in. “I have to go up and put some money under Monkey’s pillow,” I said.

Otto quirked an eyebrow at me. I told him what had happened earlier. I told him I didn’t figure it would hurt any to slip him a dollar. And then Otto said (gently): “You’re really going to send him to a public middle school still believing in the tooth fairy? It might be time… you know… to let that one go.”

I wavered. I decided to skip tooth fairy duties and see what happened this morning.

And this morning, I tensed up as I heard Monkey shuffling down the stairs. He walked into my office looking disappointed.

“I guess the tooth fairy thinks I’m too old,” he said.

“Come here, sweetie,” I opened my arms and he curled up in my lap. He’s still so small; I know a growth spurt is coming, for him, and probably soon. But right now he’s still the size of a much younger child, which means lap cuddling is still possible. I took a deep breath. “Monkey, do you REALLY believe in the tooth fairy?”

He pondered this a moment. “Well who else would take my teeth and put money under my pillow? That just wouldn’t make any sense.”

I squelched a giggle. “Baby, I think you know—deep down—that the tooth fairy isn’t real.” I waited for the argument. The outrage. The THIS DOES NOT COMPUTE, MAKE IT DIFFERENT reaction.

He leaned back against my shoulder. “Maybe really far down,” he admitted. “Just a little. But… how come I never caught you? And how did you swap the tooth and money in sealed envelopes and stuff?”

I smiled at him. “I said the tooth fairy isn’t real, I didn’t say there’s no magic.” He smiled back, and I squeezed him tight.

Sometimes I’m poised for a battle, and am surprised by grace.


  1. Laura

    Are you sure this isn’t Thursday? ‘Cause it seems like a Love Thursday post!

  2. Chuck

    Awesome post, Mir. I forget when I figured out about the tooth fairy myself…probably around 9 or 10.

  3. Trish

    That was beautiful. I’m sitting here at work now crying. Thanks a lot Mir!

  4. Teresa

    Chills. That’s so awesome.

  5. Jessica

    Wow, that was one of the best answers I’ve ever heard given to kids about the tooth fairy and/or Santa. I know I’ve said it before, but you are lucky to have your kids and your kids are just as lucky to have you as their mom. :)

  6. Katherine

    My 12 yo knows the tooth fairy isn’t real, but he still wants the money. So we both play at it (except that the tooth fairy is far too busy to necessarily get there the first night anymore).

    I know what you mean about teeth coming out in spurts. We had none for a good long while, then one recently and another loose. He still has 9 baby teeth, though… A long way to go for 12 1/2.

  7. Lulu

    “I said the tooth fairy isn’t real, I didn’t say there’s no magic.”

    Perfect answer, Mir. Gentle and realistic, yet hopeful.
    Here’s to believing in magic!

  8. Amelia

    “Sometimes I’m poised for a battle, and am surprised by grace.”
    Love. Love, love.

  9. Ruth

    Perfect ending. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. brian

    I’m crying at work, too, dammit. Y’all are incredibly awesome.

  11. StephLove

    I often say Monkey reminds me of my son, but this is one way in which they are quite different. In my son’s case, the rigid everything-must-be-logical thinking meant he was done with Santa by the first grade. But he has a 5 years younger sibling so he still gets to play along with Santa and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy. And he still collects $ for his teeth, you know, so SHE won’t be disillusioned about the t-fairy before she even loses any. He’s so selfless that way.

  12. Jodie

    I love that Monkey still believes in magic. And that you give it to him.

  13. Amy

    “I said the tooth fairy isn’t real, I didn’t say there’s no magic.”….I don’t think there could have been a more perfect answer in the whole world.

  14. Book of Jenn

    Sniffle. You’re a great mom. I wrote a really long winded post about finding grace and with an Aspie, if you wanna read it. (It’s the only thing I’ve written on my blog, to date.)

  15. Kyre

    Yeah, Mir. Thanks for nothing. I’m bawling at work. But it’s a happy cry. Thank you for letting your kid believe in magic for a bit longer. I think it’s a perfectly excellent idea.

  16. el-e-e

    Oh, wow.

    You’re an amazing mom, and an incredible writer, Mir. I’m simply blown away by the ending.

  17. Andrea

    Mir, your little man surprises and amazes me at every turn, and I’m just a passive observer through the internets with no real knowledge of your family! This motherhood adventure must absolutely take your breath away.

  18. Aimee

    Best. Answer. Ever!

    Will you adopt me?

  19. dad

    I’m a lot older than Monkey and you still make me believe in magic.

  20. elz

    So sweet. Sweet response and sweet Monkey. My little one just lost her 2nd tooth (2 in a week and a half). She looked up at me and said, “Momma, if I hear magic tonight, it’s gonna be the tooth fairy.” Oh honey, always believe. Believe.

  21. Lorinda

    I love your response. I hope to have as much grace when my children reach those delicate milestones.

    I had my wisdom teeth pulled when I was 19 and in college. My dad stopped by my apartment to drop off some tapioca pudding. When he thought I was knocked cold by the pain meds, he slipped my fiancee $20 to give me “from the toothfairy.”

  22. Katie in MA

    I hope my kiddos take it half as well – many, many, many moons from now.

  23. Mamadragon

    Awww…you’re so lucky. MY Aspie figured it out by applying the rules of logic by the time she was five. And then the same rules of logic somehow dictated that she should go around disillusioning her peers. Because it was SO WRONG to let them believe a LIE. DOES NOT COMPUTE, WHY ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT THIS IT’S SO OBVIOUS I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG, MOM.

    Sigh. I believe that was the year the birthday party invitations starting falling off. Enjoy your sweet, innocent Monkey-boy.

  24. Sharon

    I know I’m on borrowed time with my nine year old and the Santa thing. We are GOOD at hiding it, but I suspect she suspects something. Each season, I hope for just one more when all of my kids still believe.

  25. Annette

    And it is always grace that gets us through…

  26. Otto

    What are you insinuating about Christmas up there?


  27. Varda (SquashedMom)

    You and Monkey just made my heart go pitter-pat and my eyes mist up. Magic – that was the perfect answer. And I am so glad you got one of those lovely moments of grace.

  28. Karen

    It’s moments like those, Mir. :-)

  29. Lesley

    I’m with Monkey, I would love to see the look on my doctors face if I answer his, “And how are you?” greeting with “I’m PRACTICALLY DEAD because we’ve been waiting here FOREVER and I’m BORED.”

    Especially, when I book weeks ahead to get the first appointment of the morning. Why the hell is he late for an 8.00am appointment?

  30. ememby

    I love your response to Monkey – we should all believe in a little magic in life to get us through. And more importantly, grace. Beautifully put.

  31. Suebob


  32. hannah


    So what you are saying is that I have to tell my 12 year old autistic son there is no tooth fairy? No. Im not doing it!

    he is so set in his ways he wouldnt believe me anyway. The kids at school told him there is no Santa and he simply scoffed and said OF COURSE THERE IS. and that was THAT.

  33. My Kids Mom

    I’m saving that sentence. It brought tears to my eyes.

    We blow on red traffic lights. You know, to blow out the red and turn them green faster. I realize that my kids totally buy into this. And just like the guy in the red suit and the woman with fairy wings, it will have to go. Next Christmas is going to have to be different. But the 10 yo’s loose tooth (1st one in 2 years) will still be worth a dollar this summer.

  34. TC

    This totally did not go where I thought it was going.


  35. amanda

    Grace indeed… I’m still battling the “You lied to me for YEARS!!” with my Aspie. Ugh! He is so mad about it all still… yet, he “pretends” to believe each Christmas???? Someone explain THAT one!!!!!

  36. ccr in MA

    “I said the tooth fairy isn’t real, I didn’t say there’s no magic.”

    Oh Mir, what a perfect answer. Well done, you.

  37. Michele

    Surprised by grace, oh I love that! Really, so much.

  38. The Mommy Therapy

    I have been all sorts of scattered lately with travel and non-existant schedules so I’ve missed out on blog reading recently.

    It was really nice to sit down and catch up on some of your posts, like catching up with a friend…that you’ve never met, so refreshing. Just wanted to let you know how much I love your writing and I really appreciate hearing your perspective. Makes my day.

    I loved reading this about Monkey, and your phenomenal way of handlling it.

    Well done.

  39. Beth A.

    I really love this post. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Megan

    Don’t you love those got-it-right mum moments? I do. I save them up and count them over because, hey, they are far too rare. But this one? This one was truly magic.

  41. Michelle

    You made me cry. This is one of my favorite stories ever. I know you worry about him, but these moments should encourage you that HE WILL BE OKAY! He will grow up and live a wonderful life, still full of magic, and you made that okay and safe for him. :’)

  42. addy

    Monkey…Magic…. a perfect connection

  43. Brigitte

    Just when I’m on a roll, reading all the funny posts, you get me and make my eyes all wet! Good thing I’m home with no makeup anyhow . .

  44. Stephanie

    Gawd! This reminds me so much of when Sydney asked me if the Tooth Fairy AND the Easter Bunny were real. I tried not to commit to an answer. She pushed and insisted she wanted to know “THE TRUTH”. So, I told her “the truth” and she cried and told me she didn’t really want to know because she thought I would tell her they WERE real! OMG! I sure wish I’d had your words of wisdom about magic to share with her. Afterwards, she said “don’t tell me about anything ELSE”. LOL I guess I’ll never know, for sure, when she stops believing in Santa. :-)

  45. Ann W.

    Absolutely lovely.

  46. Stimey

    You handled this so well. I am impressed. I have to tell you, I was really happy when Sam figured out that I was Santa and the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. I wasn’t looking forward to having the conversation you just had. The way you did it was so eloquent though that I am going to file it away in my brain in case I need it for my other two.

  47. Amanda

    I’m so stealing the magic answer for when this comes up at our house. My 10yo Aspie is an innocent one like your Monkey and still believes in all of that too. He was VERY indignant when kids at school last year told him Santa wasn’t real. I just asked him what he thought, and he decided then he still believed. I’m sure we’re facing the end of it all very soon, but he’s got a sibling 5 years younger that I would like to be allowed to figure it out in his own time.

  48. allison

    Wow now I am going to comment twice in one week:) Our Aspie discovered (from the kids at school) that Santa was not real this year. His response actually surprised me, he was mad at us for lying to him all these years. My husband actually got him to understand essentially what you say so well here, that there is magic when you make it. Great post, I will be saving this explanation to use someday with our younger kiddo!

  49. Elizabeth

    Taking a moment to thank God for grace, and ask for an endless, ceaseless supply.

  50. J from Ireland

    Oh Mir, you have me crying here yet again with your words and wisdom. My youngest boy is the same age as Monkey and he is a total believer too. I may just steal your words as he has a very loose tooth. Thank you dear.

  51. Lisa

    WOW. That last line did me in. You are such a moving writer and such a superb mommy!
    I am stealing that last line as my status on FB for today, with full credit given as your quote!
    Thanks for sharing so beautifully the sweet and the difficult.

  52. Daisy

    It took us a while to convince Amigo that Santa wasn’t real. This rigidity; it’s rough sometimes.

  53. Jen

    I read a lot of different blogs about parenting Aspie kids and recognize so many traits that A has. But he’s not Aspie. I can see us having this conversation in a year or so; this is the kid who…well, if you have an Aspie kid, I’m sure you know what age 10 is like. Sigh…

  54. Tracy B

    I just ♥ this post! I believe in magic, too!

  55. Heather

    Two things – Actually, I would love to be able to say to the doctor who keeps one waiting for an hour exactly what Monkey did – however that is a pet peeve of mine – overbooking in the doctor’s office. Also, I hope to have as much grace raising my daughter as you do your kids. However, tell Monkey to hold onto the belief in magic because wisdom teeth removal is worth an awesome tooth fairy prize. To date myself, the tooth fairy (Dad in this case) produced the Guess jeans that I had wanted to for months – yes it was the eighties.

  56. Sassy Apple

    I agree with everything everyone else said, but I’d like to give a shout out to Otto. I’ve only been married 2 yrs, and I’m so blessed to have a husband who gently gives another point of view, much like Otto. He said what you needed to hear, with Monkey’s best interests at heart. Mir, you’re a fantastic mom…..and Otto is a great husband and father. Lucky Monkey.

  57. Kathy

    Wow … that last line … I am in tears! Like Lisa (commenter #52), I’m making that my status today. Hope you don’t mind. I hope it reminds me all day … it’s all about grace!

  58. Alison


  59. Heather

    “I didn’t say there’s no magic” – I love it. Sure, you grow up and there’s Real Life and maybe the Tooth Fairy is just an embodiment of childhood innocence…but that doesn’t mean there’s no magic. <3

  60. Sierra

    Often the triumph over reality is just making sense of your own reality. I was smiling through your entire post. Thank you so much for sharing. Bless you and your family.

  61. Rachel C

    Tears in my eyes…. beautiful… magic.

  62. squorkymama

    “I said the tooth fairy isn’t real, I didn’t say there’s no magic.”

    This has to be the best line ever. I need to remember it for…six to nine years down the road. It’s SO true. I still believe in magic!

  63. Julie

    When my sister was four, we lived across the street from a family who didn’t believe in “lying” to their children about things like Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies. One day my sister and their four year-old came into our kitchen and sister says to mom, “Pammy says there’s no such thing as Santa Claus!”

    Without missing a beat our mom said, “Gee, that’s funny. He comes to OUR house.”

    Love your mothering stories, Mir…

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest