So, as of this morning, the ruse is up. My 7-year-old forced my hand as I was tearing through my closet trying to find any footwear that a) roughly went with what I was wearing and b) had a high enough heel that I wouldn't be stepping on my very long pants. (I ended up in these high, brown wedgie things that I'm pretending pick up the brownish hues in my completely red shirt...)
"Mom, just TELL me. Is the tooth fairy really you?" This, after he found a dollar under his pillow this morning for the tooth lost on Saturday up in the Catskills, where I explained that the tooth fairy knew we were away for the weekend and would deliver the goods once we were back home.
After making him swear a pact with me that he would never tell a younger kid or any kid who still believed, I told him yes, the tooth fairy is me. I asked him afterward if he was sad or glad to know the truth, and he said glad. Then he launched into a bizarre set of questions, including "Once you become a grown-up and have a kid, who tells you that you have to start being the tooth fairy? Who shows you what to do?"
All of this confirmed what he was in knots about all weekend -- the Easter Bunny, too, is just his mom. Even knowing this, though, he was really upset about being away and missing out on the whole waking up and searching for eggs thing. I've always been really good about the magical stuff -- Easter Bunny, Santa, and Tooth Fairy -- but I never realized how much it mattered to him. I thought being away with our best friends -- skiing, tubing, staying up late -- would far outshine waking up with just me and searching the house for hidden eggs. I was so wrong. This stuff matters. He knows it's not a magic being doling out the goodies in the middle of the night, but it's a tradition, it's memories in the making, and it's very specifically and very specially his and mine.
So, the ruse is up but I'm not off the hook for years to come. And I'm actually pretty happy about that.