What my daughter, Miss Rose, wants more than anything in the world is to belong. She wants to be part of a community. She wants to be accepted and she wants to be loved.
This afternoon on the way home from school my step son Z got the giggles. He was laughing hysterically about something their Daddy had said. Rose didn’t hear what it is and couldn’t decipher through the laughter so took a moment then began laughing too. She didn’t care what they were laughing about, she just wanted to be part of it. Joy was happening! She had to be part of it!
This evening tragedy struck.
Z was playing a game of punish the dinosaur. Rose didn’t understand why but after he’d been merrily hitting, stamping on and basically pummeling the soft dinosaur to death, she decided to join in with her own dinosaur. He was obviously having a marvellous time and if fun was happening, she had to be part of it!
Gleefully Rose through her dinosaur around and mirrored Z’s game. When he announced he was biting his dinosaur and made loud growling noises, Rose decided to copy.
Her bite ended up biting a foam tooth off her dinosaur.
And then she fell apart.
She’d hurt him.
With a look of absolute horror and tears streaming down her face, she gingerly placed the dinosaur down and set the tooth next to him, then with her hands over her mouth in despair she wept. She wept and she wept and she wept.
I pulled her into my lap and assured her the dinosaur was okay. He wasn’t angry and he knew it was a mistake, she didn’t mean to hurt him. But she still knew she had. The game had got too real and had taken a casualty.
She took the dinosaur in her arms and cuddled and kissed it and told him she was sorry.
And then I had an idea.
The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy!
We told her The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy would come. She could take him to bed with her and put his tooth under her pillow, and then in the morning The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy would take it and leave him something to make him feel better.
So that’s what we did.
We took the now wounded dinosaur upstairs. She insisted his remaining teeth were brushed to ensure their continued health before we brushed hers, then we sat on the side of her bed, held the dinosaur together, and spoke a little message to The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy.
She promised she hadn’t meant to hurt him, that it had been an accident and she was going to look after him now. She asked that The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy come and leave something to help him feel better. She said she loved him very much and would take care of him now. She said thank you, opened her eyes (now moistened again with the earnest emotion of this serious situation) and gingerly placed the ripped out foam dinosaur tooth under her pillow.
We cuddled down together in her bed and I held her close and gave her kisses. I assured her that she was a lovely and good and kind little girl and that the dinosaur really didn’t mind. She gave him a goodnight kiss and snuggled down, keeping her hands on him as she fell asleep.
The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy will go and, with the assistance of some glitter, leave something to make the dinosaur feel better.
These kids break their toys all the time, accidents happen and things get stepped on or dropped, or just fall apart through use, and she doesn’t break her heart like this. This was different. Even when she’s upset about things getting broken or damaged it’s never with this degree of pain.
This pain was shame, it was guilt. She’d done this. She had chosen to do something that would hurt and only realised too late what that meant.
Had I seen just regular sadness about a damaged toy I would have said “Not to worry!”, thrown the tooth in the bin, and moved on. But that pain in her eyes, the way her hands went to her mouth in horror at what she had done. The way she kissed the dinosaur and told him she was sorry. This pain, this incident, needed recognition. The emotional impact of accidentally biting out that dinosaurs tooth, as ridiculous as it may sound, matters to her.
The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy will come tonight and tomorrow her pain will have gone. After a brief period of favouritism the dinosaur will funnel back into regular circulation and the guilt will disperse. Though I’m certain that “punish the dinosaur” will remain a firm favourite of Z, who continued his energetic and joyful dinosaur killing game whilst Miss Rose grieved, I suspect Rose still not be so keen to be part of it next time.
Usually her dinosaurs sit around talking and playing, often interacting with the My Little Ponies and Shopkins, quite regularly riding on trains or planes, occasionally attending school where they struggle with phonics. That seems like a much more sensible activity for a dinosaur who will probably now be resigned to a diet of soup and mashed potatoes.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!