Jingles arrived on Thanksgiving in 2011. Perched atop the refrigerator, my son Shawn’s Elf on the Shelf declared in writing that he was visiting through Christmas Eve. Jingles, a nosey, sneaky, stuffed nymph broke into my home and demanded that I conspire with him to monitor my son’s behavior for the next month.
Instantly, Shawn became preoccupied with the whereabouts of Jingles. He’d leave him pretzels and Goldfish crackers in case Jingles got hungry from his nightly travels back to the North Pole where Santa received a report on Shawn’s behavior. He’d write Jingles notes in the hopes that he’d learn the secrets of how Santa delivered all those toys to all those kids all over the world.
This year, Jingles was M.I.A. Thanksgiving morning and Shawn was concerned, “Why didn’t Jingles arrive? He always comes on Thanksgiving. Is he mad at me? Was I bad?”
A quick trip and thirty dollars later a new and improved (perhaps even an eye lift) Jingles was stationed at the house, ready to monitor Shawn’s every move.
No sooner had Jingles flown back to the North Pole to mind his business for eleven months, Shawn came home from school wanting to build a Leprechaun trap. So we grabbed a bucket, a little ladder from a Fisher Price castle, a pile of golden Rolo candies and waited to nab the little critter.
“How big are they,” Shawn asked, excited for the hunt of another elf, this time green with an orange beard. Having never seen a Leprechaun myself I guessed they were microscopic and super-fast. Shawn nodded in belief.
There wasn’t a Leprechaun citing, instead little gifts like a green feather boa, some green Mardi Gras beads, a leprechaun hat and tie. A different trinket appeared every morning until March 17th when the Leprechaun treasures ceased.
This week Shawn lost a tooth and I braced for yet another home invasion, this time from the Tooth Fairy. Typically it’s some cash under the pillow, a little note with a self-portrait drawing of the Tooth Fairy along with her signature. However, as Shawn hid his tooth under his pillow he presented a new twist.
“Braeden and Gage told me that if you leave a glass of water out you can find out what color the Tooth Fairy’s feathers are.”
“What? How can the Tooth Fairy fly away if her wings are wet? Between slipping the money, taking the tooth she has time to dip her wings into water?” I was irritated, but at least it was one night of inconvenience.
“Yea, she does all that so I want to find out what color her wings are.”
I didn’t have any food coloring in the house, but managed to find an old can of Buff Goldman’s Cake Graffiti I sprayed on Shawn’s birthday cake two Augusts ago. The spray can had enough coloring to turn the glass of water to a pale green.
At 6 a.m. the next morning Shawn stood beside my bed, nudging me awake, “Come and see what color the Tooth Fairy’s wings are.”
“Can it wait till 6:30?”
“No, come now.”
Her wings were green, but what was so amazing was Shawn’s effervescence, his belief in the miracle of fairies and elves and magic. As precious as these fleeting moments are, there is a part of me that worries about the moment when he figures out the lie and that I was a co-conspirator, feeding into the fantasy.
Will Shawn be able to find this kind of hope, spirit and magic in real life? Will he ever be able to capture wonderment and awe through authentic, good, real experiences? I must be the co-conspirator on more real life moments that make Shawn’s face light up and smile well beyond childhood.