Yesterday I introduced Rollie to The Toy Fairy.
Just in case you aren't familiar with this convenient little sprite, The Toy Fairy is a gossamer-winged invention who slips into your child's room while he is sleeping and quietly collects all the toys that weren't put away properly, places them in a sack and hauls them away to give to another child who will be far more grateful and responsible.
I had always sworn to myself that I would never resort to this. I would never have to lie to my children to pick up their toys. Why would I have to make up some stupid fairy to get my kids to listen? I thought...before I actually had any kids, of course. I'll just tell them to pick up their toys and they'll pick up their toys. Isn't that hilarious? Did I really have that little of a clue as to what having kids is like? Had I no idea that mothers probably spend ninety percent of their time and energy giving directions to children who won't listen until it's screamed across the house for the seventh time?
So this was how The Toy Fairy conversation came about last night.
Me (after surveying what looked like a grenade went off in Rollie's toy-box): Rollie, what happened in here?
Rollie: I was trying to make Baby Elsa happy.
Me: By what, burying her in Matchbox cars?
Me: Well, since you made the mess, you need to clean it up.
Rollie: That's okay. You can do it.
Me: Um, I don't think so. I will help you do it, but you need to do it, too.
Rollie: Um, no thanks.
Me: Um, yes please let's do this. Come on--I'll put away all these balls, and you put away the cars.
Wow, I thought. That was easy. Except when I turned my back to fulfill my end of the bargain, I heard Rollie giggling and something plastic creaking and groaning and obviously being misused. I spun around to see him standing on top of the toy semi-truck that is supposed to hold all his stupid Matchbox cars.
Me: Rollie! Why aren't you doing what I just asked you to do?
Rollie: I don't know.
Me: You need to put your toys away, my darling son.
Rollie: Why do I need to put my toys away?
Me: Because I asked you to and you need to do what I say.
Rollie (still not lifting a finger to pick anything up): Why do I need to do what you say?
Me (cleaning up toys as I lecture...reeeeaaal nice...way to lay down the law): Because I'm your mommy, that's why.
Rollie: Why are you my mommy?
Finally, I decided it was time. Time to tell my son a big, humungous lie. Time to eat every thought I'd ever had against coercing my children to do my bidding by making a bunch of shit up. Time for The Toy Fairy to make her appearance.
Me (changing my tone from Mommy's-about-to-scream-at-you-and-flee-to-the-kitchen-for-a-beer to Mommy's-about-to-let-you-in-on-a-really-cool-secret): Listen, Rollie. If you don't put your toys back where they belong, you know what? The Toy Fairy is going to come into your room and take them away.
Sound of a needly abruptly scratching across a record as Rollie's head snaps up.
Rollie: What's The Toy Fairy?
And so I go into a ten-minute oration about how she will steal through his window while he is sleeping and take every bless-ed toy that is on his floor instead of in his toy-box or other designated area and whisk them away to someone more deserving and tidy.
Unfortunately, Rollie is actually really excited about the prospect of this happening.
Rollie: Maybe we should leave a toy out for her.
Me: ...Well, if we do that, she'll never bring the toy back and we'll lose it forever.
Rollie: That would be really awesome.
Me: Don't you think it would be sad? If you never saw your toy again?
Me: Well, then we should probably put all your toys away.
Rollie (pawing through his toy-box and pulling out a truck): Let's leave her this!
Me: Rollie, your kind of missing the point here....
Rollie: Why am I kind of missing the point?
Me: We don't want her to take any toys. That's what motivates us to put them away.
Rollie: Maybe she'll like this toy. (He places it in the middle of the floor.)
Me: No...no, that's not...Rollie...you can't just leave her toys. She comes and takes toys away.
Me (sigh): Because whatever toys you leave out and don't take care of, you shouldn't be allowed to keep.
Rollie (looking back down at his truck): She can have this toy. I don't want it anymore.
Me: So you want to set a trap? To see if our house is on her route?
Rollie: That's a good idea, Momma.
And so as Rollie was prancing around the house in his froggy slippers and expending the last of his over-tired energy, I grabbed his stupid neon orange toy truck and stuck it on the top shelf of our linen closet. The next time Rollie galloped past me I let out a theatrical gasp.
Me: Rollie, listen!
Me: I think...I think I hear The Toy Fairy!
Rollie (also gasping): Where?
Me: I think she just went in your room.
Rollie hurried past me and into his room. The look on his face was fabulous. You wanna see some genuine incredulity, make something disappear practically right in front of your preschooler. And have a camera to capture his face.
Then Rollie said: Maybe we should leave her something else.
So I wouldn't say that The Toy Fairy concept has backfired yet. Although I do have a feeling that an entry about Rollie trying to trap the Toy Fairy with a cardboard box, a string, a stick and some plastic, Made-In-China bait is forthcoming....