18 August 2009

Innocent until proven guilty

Gabriel lost his first tooth on Sunday. This was especially exciting, and something of a relief for him. He is seven, and many of his peers have been losing teeth for 2 years now, and he was getting worried.

He had even exchanged correspondence with the tooth fairy, asking if she had any insight as to when he might expect this event to occur.

Yes, my children and the tooth fairy are pen pals. Her name is Mirabelle. If I ever run out of things to write about, or want to make you laugh, Mirabelle's origin myth, as well as excerpts from her correspondence with Sarah, could give me material for several posts.

Anyway, Gabriel lost his tooth (literally; he swallowed it), and was worried that Mirabelle would not know to visit him because he had no evidence. So he left a note of explanation under his pillow.

Meanwhile, Sarah lost a tooth a few months ago, and — my bad — MIRABELLE FORGOT TO VISIT. Sarah reminded us of this on Sunday evening before she went to bed.

I'm fairly certain she knows by now that I AM MIRABELLE, but money is money, so she's willing to keep up the charade.

On my way up to bed, I placed a note for each of them, and some coins — 2 silver dollars for Gabriel, this being his first tooth, and one for Sarah — under Gabriel's pillow. Gabriel's pillow, because when school ends, Sarah more or less moves into her brother's room for the summer, and bunks with Gabriel.

In the morning, Catherine Leigh Dollanganger, Sarah had her coin, and Gabriel had nothing but a note.


I checked the sheets, looked under the mattress, and did a sweep of the perimeter.

No coins.

Gabriel handled this with admirable grace, especially since HIS SISTER HADN'T EVEN LOST A TOOTH, in part, because at least he had his note as evidence that Mirabelle had been there, but also because he is, by nature, trusting and generous spirited.

Yet David and I were suspicious, and I asked Sarah if she might have any idea where Gabriel's coins were.

She gave nothing away.

She is still, thankfully, an awful liar, and didn't even do the shifty eyed thing that she usually does when she is being untruthful. And so, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

She was quiet all day yesterday, which seemed to me more evidence that perhaps she was telling the truth, as normally she cannot live for more than an hour before her guilty conscience gets the better of her and a confession comes gushing out unbidden. I've always thought she would be terrible under hostile interrogation.

Still, we were a bit suspicious, because as she moves closer to the teenage years, she is beginning get better at the art of deception.

So this morning, I decided to set a trap.

I stripped Gabriel's bed to wash the linens, and discovered a new note from Mirabelle apologizing for the missing coins, along with $7 to make up for the error.

The tooth fairy is normally not this generous in our house, and so I figured this would really chap Sarah's ass. She is, after all, someone who always has her eyes peeled on the ground looking for money (she's pretty good at finding it, too), and at age 10, is not above crawling around in a shop to hunt for spare change.

Still, nothing.

Just an hour ago, Sarah and Sacha were roughhousing, and Sarah lost an earring. She asked me to help her look for it, but it was nowhere to be found.

As I exited the room I said, "It's funny sometimes how things just disappear, isn't it? It's kind of like Gabriel's coins."

Her voice quavered, and her eyes got a little shifty, as she replied: "Mom, I feel like you are trying to accuse me of taking Gabriel's coins!"

"Of course not," I said. "I'm just saying that things are mysterious. Something is here one minute and then, it's gone, without a trace."

I felt certain she was about to crack, but I was wrong.

And so, I remind myself that this is the beauty of the American justice system; innocent until proven guilty, right?

And yet, I can't help but worry about the things she is going to pull over on us in just a few years time.

One thing is certain, though; the next time Gabriel loses a tooth, I'm putting his money in a sealed envelope.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. Sister & I snuck out windows & sliding doors for years after midnight to go into the city; one summer I went to Calif for a month w/o advance permission (age 16). You just wait.