Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a movie I remember fondly from my childhood and one I’ve watched many times with my own children. So it was lovely to hear The Age of Not Believing on the radio to mark Angela Lansbury’s 90th birthday this week. The song stayed in my head, playing on my internal jukebox, for the rest of the weekend and into Monday. Then it happened. The fairy door appeared, firmly attached to the skirting board in my five-year-old daughter’s room. I hold my hands up, it was me. I put it there. But this deception has already reaped rewards. My little girl believes with all her heart that there is a fairy living on the other side of that door and berates her brother for threatening to knock on it. She has been creeping around her room in the mornings worried about waking her fairy from her slumber and is convinced she will only open the door when she’s asleep. My little girl plans to write a letter to leave on the fairy’s doorstep. I love that this has sparked her imagination. I’m already thinking about what I can use for fairy dust, the games I can play.
Since they were small, I’ve tried to bring a whole host of figures to life for my children – Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy – they have all visited our humble abode. Santa has left snowy footprints and mince pie crumbs as well as presents when he’s been down our chimney. I expect he was slightly unsteady on his feet after the 7% Christmas ale we left out last year. The Easter bunny has left chocolate eggs hidden around our living room and at nanny’s too. While the tooth fairy even came to our campsite in France after my son lost his tooth during our summer holiday. We decided to come down on the generous side of the exchange rate so he got 2 euros, which was slightly more than the pound he is used to. But how long this will continue is anyone’s guess, for the seeds of doubt are already being sown in my eight-year-old’s mind.
On Monday he took one look at the fairy door and raised an eyebrow in my direction. “Could I have a word in private, please mummy? he said. In his room, he took me to one side. “Did you put that door on the wall,” he said in hushed tones, just in case she was eavesdropping . “I promise I won’t say anything.” I tried my best to look shocked at the suggestion and of course I denied all knowledge of how the fairy door had arrived where it was. There was no way I was going to tell him I had been fumbling around in the dark, trying several times to get it to stick to the wall. I could tell he was doubtful but luckily he played along for his sister’s sake.
So it has started. One by one all those creatures I have helped to bring to life in his imagination will disappear as he grows up and reality sets in. Part of me wants to blow my savings and take him to the North Pole to prove that Santa is real. But this would only temporarily halt the process, eventually he’ll find out the truth. But I’m not going to tell him. It’s something he is going to have to work out for himself.