“No pee-pee fairy!” the kids lament casually upon entering
my bedroom in the morning. Groggy and bleary-eyed, I mumble, “it’s still early,
maybe she’ll arrive later…”
Alas, we have fallen into the reward system of disciplinary and
restorative measures. Sticker charts are scattered on the dining room table,
and the pee-pee fairy has become a long-standing fixture. Having undergone
various permutations since her original thrust on dryness throughout the night,
(“bed” – as in “stay in it” – fairy, [fill in the blank] fairy), the fanciful
pixie of choice, who leaves a little something under the pillow, remains,
irrevocably, the pee-pee fairy.

Fairies are generally described as mythological creatures
bearing supernatural or magical powers. They are also capricious and
mischievous. On count of the latter, I stand guilty.
As for the former – the magical and the supernatural – I am
porous and flawed.
Sebastian, ever the thinker, prods: “Ima, why does the pee-pee-fairy
come in the afternoons and not in the mornings?
“Well, you know… “ I stammer, “she… um… she needs time to
sleep in the morning, to gather her energies… she’s a little sleepy and mixed
He laughs his knowing laugh: “So you’re the pee-pee-fairy!!”
Later, tongue-in-cheek: “What does she look like? Can you
take a picture of her?”
And still later, distending his propensity for convergent
thinking, coupled with a twinkle in the eye and a diffident smile: “Ima, why
does the pee pee fairy only come when you’re at home?”
“And why is she always on vacation when you’re not at home?”
Liliana pipes in: “Yeah, why does the pee-pee fairy have so
many days off?” Hers is a different kind of thinking; she is less concerned
with the conundrum of the thinly disguised fairy, and more with the sprite’s —
whomsoever she may be –unseemly neglect.
I try to weave elaborate stories, but whom am I kidding?
Even Liliana smiles her mischievous smile as I deny my
affiliation with the pee-pee-fairy: “you smiled so I know you’re joking.
Smiling means you’re joking!”
The surreptitious identity of the pee-pee fairy has become
so familiar that it is laughable: “ Hey, what do you kids expect?” I lob
offhandedly, “you know the pee-pee fairy’s schedule…”
Plainly, the kids know the truth. But the pee-pee-fairy
maintains her hold, her allure.
Surely, the pee-pee fairy, alongside a cohort of fanciful figures (Tooth fairy, Santa) endure for a reason.
The filmy space between knowing and believing, between
reason and faith fuels our fancy. In this space, the question of whether to believe
or not to believe is hushed, muted; what resonates in its place is a serene
acknowledgment: how nice it is to suspend our disbelief.  Faith and logic, while differing, are
sometimes two sides of the same coin.

That veiled space between the real and the illusory contains
still more creases in its folds: it insinuates pleated pulls between us and the
universe… crinkled tugs between action and destiny.

While picking at her rice during dinner, Liliana muses: “Ima,
how do wishes come true?”
I pause, silently grasping for an adequate answer: uh…. depends
what the nature of the wish is, is it something that you yourself can actualize
or something that relies on the grace of some entity, is it material or
spiritual, is it or…

Sebastian interjects reflectively: “Yeah, I wished for
something a long time ago on a shooting star, when we were in Hawaii, and it
still didn’t come.
“Hmmm… Did you tell anyone about your wish?” I nudge.
“No, it’s s’pposed to be a secret.”
I sigh, slightly defeated. Not knowing what his wish is, I
have no agency in its potential actualization.
Alas, what is the balance between orchestrating things and trusting
that they will happen? Between planning and letting be?
Perhaps, the best we can do, as parents, is to inhabit the
role of those amorphous fairies — to surreptitiously prepare measures and
serve up conditions – and then to flutter away and observe the magic.

We can give our children fairy wings. But must grant them
the freedom to flutter away with them.
What’s more, we must have faith that their (ill)logic is apt –
for now: because at this stage, life is about thinking big. And control.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have been disinvited
to Liliana’s upcoming 5th birthday: “Well then you can’t come to my
birthday!” she storms off indignantly.
 “If you don’t
do what I want”, goes her logic, “then I won’t let you do what you want.” It’s
the kind of logic that’s not easy to dispute.
“If the pee-pee-fairy doesn’t come then you have to buy me
two, no three, things…”
“Aba squished my shoes so he has to buy me 100 new shoes…”
In addition to a bold sense of logic, Liliana sports a
resolute case of divergent (or shall we say selective) thinking: as she
clutches the thing she wants in the store, she declares that I said maybe and
that “maybe means maybe yes!” (To my retort that maybe also means maybe no, she
shakes her head firmly, narrowing her eyes and shaping her lips into her
persuasive pout).

[Her older brother meanwhile checks the prices on everything
and crinkles his nose in repugnance as if to say what a rip-off, a colossal
waste of money.]
His sister of course remains un-swayed. As I smile at him
and secretly desire to buy HIM everything, I gather my corrective energies and
prepare to stand my ground with her and block a barrage of vitriol.
The “because I’m your mother and I said so” refrain
sometimes feels thin. But it holds; it’s my
way of thinking big, my measure of control.
My four and a half year old diva “hates me forever” lately.
A lot. Mercifully, I’ve come to a point where I welcome it: with a grin.
There is something both comforting and invigorating about surrendering
to the release of emotional extremes. I do not wish to deny her anger, to deny
her spectrum of emotions.
Moreover, there is something to be said for letting hateful
words just roll off your skin like a gelatinous yolk; something to be said for
the sense of vindication in my role as mother — not as peer — vis-à-vis my
daughter that spreads over me. Mostly, there is something to be said for
knowing that “forever”, in the conception of a child, is ephemeral and
Mere moments later, I sit next to her and she sidles up next
to me, wrapping her arms around me. The moment of “hating forever” has its
place, because it inevitably morphs into an eternity of loving “in the moment”.
She wraps her arms around me and I envelop her. The eternal
moment is invariably symbiotic.

One recent evening, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree was the bedtime book of choice. I asked the kids,
after reading the story, what feels better, to give or receive? “To hug Ima”,
Sebastian offered, and they each took their turn hugging me. I of course hugged
them back, radiating warmth. And thought: what an apt synthesis of the
giving-receiving conundrum: plainly you can’t give a hug without receiving one
When I pick up Liliana from daycare, she runs up to me beaming,
and clutches me, before running back to perform daredevil acrobatics on the
When I pick up Sebastian from the bus stop, he runs up to me
flush-faced, and enfolds my leg gently. He unfolds an encoded I love you note
and goes on about shadow puppets, long-necked dinosaurs, mystery codes, and
graduated cylinders…
As Sebastian draws near his seventh birthday, my previous
injunctions for him and his sister to slow down, to not grow so fast have given
way to hushed marvels at the people they are becoming.
I realize that it is I
who must slow down; so that I can
appreciate the wondrous ways that they are growing up. It is I who must wander into fairyland, and have faith — that
everything is progressing logically — that the real is fantastic, and that the
fantastic is real.

Sometimes our wishes are right in front of our eyes.