Yesterday Piper came home from school and was acting a little withdrawn. I could tell something was up, so I asked her about it.

“Megan told me the tooth fairy isn’t real.” I had been waiting for this day to come.

In our house, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and various other magical creatures are still alive and well. But Piper is at an age where these things lose a little bit of their magic and eventually become what they really are: Fictional characters. I had hoped she was able to work things out herself, but here we are.

“Do you believe her?” I asked, trying to keep my tone nonchalant.

She looked a little puzzled as she thought about it for a second. Then she said, “I don’t know.” It was quickly followed by, “but how does the dollar get under my pillow?”

I decided to pivot a little. “Do you believe in fairies?” I didn’t want to push her one way or another, but rather get a sense of understanding for what’s real in her world.

“Fairies are make-believe,” she said, launching into an explanation that involved some pretty solid reasoning about Tinkerbell and other magic fairies. From what I gather, fairies are magic and magic is make-believe, so fairies are make-believe too. Good use of transitive reasoning!

I decided to let her keep talking, to see what conclusions she would reach on her own. Sure enough, we eventually came back around to the tooth fairy. I could tell before she said it that she had worked out the ruse.

“I don’t think the tooth fairy is real,” she said. She wasn’t upset—more, she was pondering things, putting it all together for herself at her pace.

Prodding her a little, I asked, “so how does the dollar get under your pillow?”

She immediately started laughing at me and said without hesitation, “you put in there!”

It went much better than I expected. Sure her friend might’ve tipped her off to the fact that the tooth fairy isn’t real, but in the end she figured it out for herself. I didn’t lie to her and didn’t give anything away. She made her own conclusion, and I feel good about how she got there.

She hasn’t asked about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny yet, but I’m not worried. When these holidays roll around again, I’m confident she’ll decide what she does or doesn’t believe in.