Buttercup asked me if fairies were real the other day. I have to admit, the question knocked me on my ass and I didn’t know how to respond at first. My Little, my One and Only, sat patiently as Mama tripped over words to try and reassure her that the very foundation for her world built of imagination, fairy tales, and Tinker Bell, is cracking. She’s five. She’s brilliant. She has known how to outwit me and The Husband with actual and applied logic when trying to get her way since she was two.
But magic and fairies that smell of cinnamon and the Easter Bunny that can take a bow for being the only reason I take her to church once a year? Santa and his elves making toys for all the children in the world and Christmas magic and Santa’s magic key to get into our house with no chimney…all of these little white lies we’ve built up and encouraged and reinforced as parents simply because she has always looked at the world through the eyes of the child I wish I had been. At her age, I knew too much, had seen too much, and Santa was something to say I believed in so I could open a few extra presents every year.
I was eight when I finally fessed up and said I was no longer a believer of the fat guy in the red suit who somehow made it legal to break into houses all over the world just to leave presents. I grew up in Detroit. I’ve been to Mexican weddings where the final dance is the cue for every woman with a free arm and three kids running along to help to grab as many centerpieces as they can just because they are there. I wasn’t buying this Santa business. And then I kicked myself after because suddenly my Christmas present pile looked pretty sad as it got smaller. Pretending to believe the half-assed Spanglish Christmas my Green Carded father and his family put on for us kids every year was something I suddenly missed.
Buttercup didn’t grow up in that craziness. It’s been me and The Husband and a few very close friends most of her life. Presents appear under the tree while we sleep and as they should so that Christmas morning is magical and Mama and Daddy try to stay awake with coffee after wrapping all night. Mexican weddings scare the shit out of her because she was never trained to address anyone as old or older than her parents as Tia and Tio or to kiss and hug every single person in the room on demand upon arrival and departure. And she sure as hell wants nothing to do with People She’s Never Met grabbing at her and cooing at her and expecting her to come willingly into their arms just because that’s Tia So and So and No You Are Not Supposed to Tell Her that Her Perfume Stinks.
My baby speaks Dora Spanish and believes in personal space, magic, and that if you smell cinnamon it must mean that a fairy was just in the room. So I make sure to keep the Fairy Magic spray bottle I made with water and cinnamon essential oils hidden away for the days when magic and a simple Do You Smell Cinnamon are all it takes to make her entire spirit radiate with happiness because fairies exist.
I could have told you I would become a non-fiction writer when I was eight. If my kid ever decides she wants to become a writer, she’s a novelist in the making. She’s too little and innocent to have Mama bursting her Happy Place wide open but too smart to have me lie to her face and not blow my cover.
Do fairies exist? She asked me again and I cried inside because it wasn’t that long ago that she sucked her fingers as she slept and that eleventeen was a number. Now she wanted me to reassure her that something I wished to be true actually was.
Fairies and their magic exist for those that believe in them, I told her. It’s the lucky ones like you who know a fairy just flew by when you smell cinnamon.
She smiled and sat back on the couch, satisfied. And I waited for just the right moment to spritz some Fairy Magic in the air when she wasn’t looking.