Parents often tell their kids they have superpowers of some sort. My favourite myth (which may actually be true) is that mothers can see through walls and whatever our kids are doing on the other side of those walls.
Fortunately kids believe this long enough to give us time to come up with something more plausible (and similarly effective) as they grow older.
Leaving aside the myths, there are times I think we really do develop some kinds of superpowers as parents.
One of my superpowers is the ability to hear a crying child over some background noise (in my case a fan in our bedroom) in the middle of the night and be on my feet and in my child’s bedroom before my conscious mind has even realised that I’m awake.
That sort of thing still amazes me after more than 9 years.
Our daughter is about to lose her first tooth. Like many kids, she has grown up (so far) with the expectation that the tooth fairy will arrive to take her tooth and leave her some money.
She is actually pretty excited about this prospect.
Our son, on the other hand, has become a complete sceptic at 9 years old. He refuses to be persuaded that, among the many things in the Universe that we don’t understand yet, there could be tooth fairies. He knows the tooth thieves and source of the cash are his parents and he has no qualms debunking this particular myth when we mention it.
This, of course, distresses our daughter. She has been waiting so long for her teeth to start falling out that she is really hoping that a tooth fairy arrives at the appointed time.
This presents something of a dilemma for us. I try really hard not to lie to our kids about things, generally. Maintaining the myth of the tooth fairy is commonplace for parents, sure, but, in the case of our son, it feels wrong to go too far with this in the face of growing scepticism.
When it comes to our son, we have basically given up on the whole idea. He lost a tooth recently and I couldn’t even find it to craft an elaborate illusion of a tooth fairy’s visit (well, we’ve gone with the tooth mouse for him).
He lost his tooth or hid it from me and there was no cash waiting for him. He didn’t say anything so I think that phase of his childhood is decidedly over.
Our daughter is only 6 so we’re probably going to run with the tooth fairy/tooth mouse myth for now. I’m tempted to say the deception is really for her because she so desperately wants it to be true but this interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson about how his daughter debunked the myth using the scientific method gave me reason to think a little more about this approach:
I like what deGrasse Tyson said about there being so much wonder in the Universe that we don’t really need to invent things to keep our kids entertained and inspired. Still, does that mean that we need to abandon the tooth fairy so soon?
Perhaps the answer is that when our kids are old enough to deduce for themselves that the whole thing is an elaborate hoax (we leave notes “signed” by the tooth mouse), it’s time to hang up our wings and either come up with another rationale for the cash or just File 13 the whole thing.
Has feminism really reached a point where we create demons when none are present? Have we reached a point where the mere idea of sexiness, of owning one’s own sexuality, is threatening? Or is this just a case of NIMBY-ism for the feminist Open Source community?
Is this still a real issue for women geeks in SA (or women, generally)?