Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Finding Fairies

I dedicate this post to my Gram, Merlin Lorene Cunningham Shaffer, 10/20/17-5/22/13. The giant rocks on her tiny fingers from her adoring husband were the LEAST spectacular thing about her. Love you, Gram.

Z has a history of jewelry…interest.

So, when my favorite talismanic rhinestone necklace disappeared, I had a pretty good idea of the perp. I also knew it would do exactly zero good to question said individual. Like, have you ever tried to convince a narcissist of something that doesn’t fit their view of reality? Or tried to get your Tupperware back from – oh, wait, you don’t know her…

Z is the most convincing person you may ever meet. Unless I have 100% conviction to back me up, I don’t even broach any marginal subjects.

In fact, I almost took her to have her hearing checked out because girlfriend is so convincing she doesn’t even hear you if she isn’t tryna hear what you are saying. Over the course of several days her ignoring me and then saying, casually, “Oh, sorry’ [but being, definitely, not sorry] happened so frequently that I became concerned. Schedule a hearing test? Sure, until I realized she was testing me. Cheeky.

Had I asked her about my necklace, the conversation would have gone like so:

“Say, Z, you haven’t seen my special blue sparkly necklace have you”

Wide-eyed: “No.”

[Possibility that cat has batted necklace behind shelf enters mind of mother.] “Okay.” [Result: Daughter knows Mother is not omniscient.]

For contrast, let’s examine an interaction wherein FSM knows the facts with certainty:

The setting is the walk home from school last Friday.

Z announces, nonchalantly, “Mama, Mrs. S said we should tell our parents we are supposed to go to pizza night tonight.”

“Oh, really?” I query, knowing that the event in question is entirely optional – and geared toward the upper elementary classes. “Should I speak with Mrs. S about that?”

“Well, she didn’t really say…I’m not sure what she said, exactly.”

“Did she say you should go to pizza night?”


Did she feel like she was telling the truth when she told me what her teacher said? No. Z admitted she hadn’t been thinking about that (truth), just wanting pizza.

We don’t want our families to live in a climate of suspicion. This is a struggle when a family member has an attachment disorder! I do want to show Z, though, that lying is something that will be discovered and is not an effective means of communication. So, in this sort of context (grey areas of truth) I only want to ask her questions to which I basically know the answers. I don’t want to teach her that she can successfully fool her mother and take things with impunity. 

Also, gimme back my necklace!


Not only was this necklace Most Spectacular, it had been given to me by Swan Ayi to remind me of her friendship during a thorny time. I’d clutched that necklace through a series of “Clutch Pearls!” moments, trust me.

                                            Figure I – Most Spectacular Necklace (circled)

I searched far and wide. I can find anything at any time. Because my house is soooo clean. Not.

It is tiny, though, so there’s not that many places to look.

One day my precious necklace suddenly appeared on my (locked) closet floor, where it had decidedly not been before – and precisely where it might have been slipped under the door by small fingers. 

But, meanwhile, we’d begun a conversation about the existence of “Finding Fairies.” Z’s eleven-year-old brother contends that, “fairies aren’t real, except the tooth fairy,” but we gals felt pretty confident about these FFs.

I decided to do a little experiment.

Z wrote a note to the FFs about my necklace and how it had disappeared. We put it by her bed with some little gifts – flowers, sparkles, etc. The very next morning, there the necklace was!

What does this all mean? Like some other Z/truth conundra, this feels like a grey area I am unqualified to elucidate.

The whole thing, though, did feel a wee bit…fun.

Confrontation avoidance? For once not feeling obliged to Lecture? Something about magic and second chances?

Full Spectrum Mama


  1. What a wonderful, creative, magical solution! I LOVE it and want to start using it for everything. Truth fairy? Eat-your-vegetables fairy? The go-to-sleep-by-yourself fairy?

    Little E and I just made fairy houses in our yard, and I've been telling him all about them (the real deal..NEVER eat or drink anything a fairy offers you)- after I attended a training with my shamanic healer on fairies. It led us to talk about Power Animals, which he is completely enamored of. I wonder if you've discussed them with the kids?

    Funny story: Papa D took Little E to a storytime at the library in mid-March, and the librarian was teaching about leprechauns. She asked the kids if they could name any other fairies. Out busts E with our private family mythology - the Water Fairy comes at night and drinks all the water leftover after a bath. She was invented to explain where the bathwater goes, because E didn't want to let it drain.

    I felt embarrassed and exposed by this incident,but I also realized that, unlike Santa, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy, it's possible he will never be disillusioned about the Water Fairy. No one is going to be talking in the schoolyard about how they've figured out the truth about the Water Fairy. I guess whoever he parents with will clue him in eventually.

    We actually hedge our bets with Santa "he is the spirit of christmas" "he helps mom and dad" - so this is really the first time we've had to face the dilemma of "lying" to E. We have a strong family policy of honesty - it guided our choice for an open adoption and we use it regularly to teach the danger of secrets. However, I feel torn because I want him to know the unseen magic in the world.

    However, it also reminds me of a story I once read - a soul-searing description of how child abusers use normal words for terrible acts, so that children's efforts to reveal the abuse will be ineffective. For example, other adults will dismiss the child having tantrums when threatened with a "time-out."

    For some reason, it is only now, five years in, that I see how easy it is to create a private familial language.

    Blessings and love to your whole family. I'm so sorry about the loss of your grandmother. Her spirit will always be with you and your children.

      See comment below - as reply xoxoxox

  2. Thank you, Elysia, for your wonderful comment.
    You touched on a bunch of compelling topics, but the one that's really getting me right now is about Santa. ARGH. We are So with you on the honesty piece, all the way up to Santa, who we have wholeheartedly "lied" about until the last year or two when we have started to "hedge our bets" as you say. Now I have an 11-year old with social challenges who may still believe...Going to work on this one...
    Also, language - private family language can be very uplifting (for example, we say "ark ark," like sea lions, to mean "I love you"); and also, as you mention, a terrible masking device.
    Your aim toward transparency seems to discourage the latter while allowing for lots of the former. And I think the Water Fairy sounds entirely plausible, though that's just me ;)
    Love and thanks,


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