Sometimes parenting takes patience, or creativity, or understanding. Sometimes it requires a combination of all these things, and sometimes it requires something else altogether. It’s an ever-changing puzzle, trying to get a handle on what a child needs. And once in a while, it makes for a good story. Such was the case with my eight-year old this morning.
She and her cousins and a friend were playing outside, in a wooded area on Cape Cod. They were putting out food that fairies would want to eat. Somehow, the rule was that things people would eat wouldn’t be appealing to the fairies. My daughter was getting frustrated that she didn’t have anything to offer the fairies, and I knew that she needed a little help.
I was in the process of making french toast for the fairy food providers, and I had a full array of foods at my disposal. The problem was that if we could eat it, it was off limits to the fairies. But, uncertain of how it would all play out, I called my daughter into the house.
“What’s the matter, Sweetheart?” I asked, having some idea of the issue, but still curious to hear what she would say.
“I don’t have anything that the fairies want to eat,” she said, on the verge of tears.
“Well, let’s see what we have in the kitchen.”
I knew that I was on the clock. I scanned the food cupboard and focused, like a laser, on some beef bouillon cubes inside a glass jar. I decided that was going to have to do.
“Oh, look at this, all wrapped up in pretty red foil,” I offered, confidently. “The fairies will love this.”
“What is that?”
“It’s bouillon, sweetie.” I left out the beef part, because humans eat beef, and we couldn’t have that.
“Can you eat it?” she asked, clearly unaware of what the cubes were for, but willing to consider what I was going to say.
“I wouldn’t eat that if you gave me all the money in the world.”
The tears had stopped falling, and her mood brightened considerably.
After breaking through the inner seal and extracting a red cube of fairy food, I placed it in her hand and she was on her way back outside. The crisis was over, and in a few minutes’ time everyone assembled on the patio for a breakfast of french toast and lemonade. And there was no need to worry about the fairies wanting any of that.
The kids moved on to something else after breakfast. For all I know, the fairies may never be spoken of again. But if they should happen to come back again, I’ll know just what food to offer them.