Tuesday, September 06, 2011


First Tastes

The Boy is starting fifth grade, as hard as it is for me to process that. In our district, fifth grade means moving to a new school building, far from the cozy confines of the much smaller elementary school. He’s ridiculously smart, but still sweetly sensitive, which means that he could be easy prey for the Lord of the Flies types he’ll run across over the next few years.

On Saturday he lost a tooth, and the tooth fairy forgot to come. She forgot again on Sunday.

TW and I discussed it. It was time.

The changes are coming in rapid succession. He mentioned wanting to try coffee sometime to see what it tasted like.

Queasy readers might want to skip the rest of this post...

I took him to a local donut shop, and got us two coffees (one sweetened, one black) and two donuts. We sat down, and I mentioned how proud I was of how fast and how well he was growing up. He was turning into a man, and it was time to celebrate that. I offered him a sip of the black coffee, and he took it.

(Picture the face Renee Zellweger would make upon tasting a lemon.)

So I let him try the sweetened one, which he found a little more tolerable, but still bitter. He didn’t finish either, but devoured the donut and seemed proud to have tried coffee. I congratulated him on a milestone.

Then I dropped the bomb.

I told him that growing up means having to learn some things you’d rather not know. But that kids at school would know, and I didn’t want to send him in there unprepared. It was time to learn that the Tooth Fairy, and Santa, were really Mom and Dad.

It was an awful moment. His face reddened, and he teared up. But he held it together.

I told him that TW and I had grown up with the Tooth Fairy and Santa, and that we wanted him and TG to have that experience, too. They’re wonderful traditions, and they make childhood more special. But there comes a time when you have to know the truth. I didn’t want him to hear it at school, or to be caught short when someone teased him about it.

I asked him if he had figured it out yet. He said that he kind of suspected, but didn’t really want to know. That seemed about right.

Then I enlisted his help. The Girl is three years younger. We don’t think she’s quite ready for this nugget of truth yet, so we’ll need TB’s help in maintaining the Tooth Fairy and Santa for her for a little longer. He agreed. And I promised he’d still get money for teeth and presents for Christmas, so this wasn’t about us cheaping out on him.

He pulled himself together, and the conversation shifted to other things. When we got home he was unusually interested in father-son time, so we shot some hoops and played catch and even worked on his pitching. (Devastating fastball, but the change-up is a work in progress.) He never said a word to his sister.

He’s a great kid, on his way to becoming a wonderful man. Someday he’ll have a conversation like this with his own children, and realize just how hard the other side of it is. He’ll feel his own heart break as he watches their faces tear up. Then we’ll have some coffee and talk about it.

Beautiful post. Been there, done that. It still makes me cry reading yours. Being a loving parent is tough.
You sound like a great dad, Dean Dad. Congratulations on the results of your hard work.
I'm so glad your kids are a couple of years older than mine so I don't have to come up with this stuff on my own. Elegantly done.
Kids get teased--or "caught short" by other beliefs about Santa Claus--way earlier than 5th grade. My daughter was 4.

FWIW, I think you have to let kids believe, or pretend to believe, for as long as they wish.

Even if they're changing school buildings and want to try coffee.
Love this post and your discussion with your son. My daughter is in fifth grade this year - but it doesn't involve a new building or school for her. That will come next year. No, I am not ready.

We haven't had the Santa discussion yet. I only hope when we do, we will handle it as well as you did.
This is a very sweet post. Not looking forward to that conversation myself, but this is a great way to handle it!

If I may make a small suggestion - it would be nice if your blog had a search bar, they are easy to add with blogger. I am wondering about the tenure process in Community college and while I'm sure you have probably written about this topic, I have no way of locating it!
@maepress pssst, here's a Google Ninja trick: to search within a specific site, add "site:url.com" to your Google search terms, where url.com is the URL of the site you want to search. So to find posts about tenure on Dean Dad's blog, you can search Google for "tenure site:suburbdad.blogspot.com"
My son was heartbroken to hear the news about Santa and the tooth fairy. He told me he "sort of" knew about the tooth fairy because the dollar always came in a zip lock baggy. Evidently, the tooth fairy didn't want the money to get lost under the pillow.
Nicely done, DD. The one thing I didn't realize until much MUCH later is just how much fun it is to "help" Santa Claus. You can tell your kids that when they get older.

To maepress:

If you are at a CC, ask your mentor (or get a mentor), because they do vary somewhat in their specific requirements (teaching portfolio? observations? when?). Local advice is the best advice.

If you are thinking about applying to a CC, I'd recommend one of my blog entries as well as what you find with a search of DD's articles and the "Two Year Track" at the Chronicle.

If you want to know the rejection rate during that multi-year process, it is low but not zero at my CC. YMMV.
Coming up in the series of learning things you don't want to know: TB and TG inquire about credit default swaps, synthetic CDOs, and the 2008+ US economic crisis.

@maepress, another great post of DD's is found with a google search for
men hats site:suburbdad.blogspot.com

Pardon the punchiness and intrusion; the start of the semester is getting to me...

More seriously (@maepress), try to have a mentor who is in a very similar department. In my R1 experience, differences in what constitutes appropriate contributions among depts at the same school are important to be aware of.
thanks for the advice everyone. I'm already teaching at a CC, and my position may move to tenure track, so I'm planning ahead to a degree. I want to make sure that I choose to do work that will carry weight and I'm not sure if certain kinds carry more than others.
Maepress, type the following into a google search bar: site:suburbdad.blogspot.com tenure
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