Fairies, or: Favors

On Friday, our six-year-old lost her 7th and 8th baby teeth within the span of a few hours. The first had been noticeably wobbling so we weren’t surprised at the event when she bit down into a crunchy cookie, but the second one came out unexpectedly, while we were having Shabbat dinner. We were both shocked when our daughter suddenly exclaimed, “Another tooth just fell out! Does that mean the tooth fairy will give me two presents?”

After the excitement had died down, she followed up by asking us the classic children’s question about the existence of the tooth fairy. She’s no dummy, and she’d heard some of her preschool classmates, as well as one of her teachers from last year, speaking about the tooth fairy as nothing more than mere fantasy. Now, personally, I’m not one to encourage anyone’s belief in fictional characters of any sort; but my wife likes the idea of encouraging a child’s sense of wonder and expresses disappointment whenever I suggest the possibility of their non-existence. That’s why I carefully stayed quiet. “I don’t know much about the tooth fairy,” I said, “You’ll have to ask Mama’chka. She knows more about it.”

Cleverly, my wife managed to circumvent the question with a discussion of whether or not a child should receive two gifts for two teeth that fall out on the same day, and our daughter forgot about her question. On Shabbat morning, after waking up during the night in excitement and anticipation to check for favors beneath her pillow, our little girl awoke early to find two separate little gifts waiting for her – and neither of the two teeth she’d lost.

Fallen leaf headrest
Shifted gingerly by fae
Reveals dawning joy

The above is my second attempt at a classic haibun (here is my first one), which includes a traditional haiku, entailing the following:

  • haibun includes 1 to 3 prose paragraphs that must be a true accounting, not fiction,
    followed by a traditional haiku which MUST:
    • be nature based
    • be three lines (5 โ€“ 7 โ€“ 5 syllables OR short-long-short)
    • have a direct or subtle relationship to your prose paragraphs: enrich the prose without condensing or summarizing it
    • include a KIGO (word or phrase associated with a particular season).
    • although only 3 lines in length, it must have two parts including a shift, an added insight. Japanese poets include a KIREJI (cutting word).
      • BUT thereโ€™s no linguistic equivalent in the English language therefore punctuation creates the cut: we can use a dash, comma, an ellipsis, an exclamation point. Sometimes itโ€™s simply felt in the pacing or reading.

48 thoughts on “Fairies, or: Favors”

      1. Broken ones. I had broken two teeth after falling from stairs. Somebody suggested to preserve to see them regrow.

  1. Hello Ben. I was interested to read your piece about haikus and haibun (which I had never heard of before. I shall have to look into it, so thank you. I write a lot of haikus but I break the rules. I know they are only to be written about nature but sometimes I do otherwise. Enjoyed reading about your daughter and the tooth fairy, and I too, love to see that sense of wonder in a child. Keep it going . . .

    1. Elizabeth,

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      When I leave myself to my own devices, I break ALL the rules that I know of (and I don’t even know most of them)… that’s why I sometimes deliberately try to follow “the rules” of various forms – they don’t come naturally to me, but I … well … I feel like they exist for a reason and were designed by poets infinitely more experienced than I am…

      So these forms make me curious – they make me wonder what happens to my thoughts and my words when reflected through somebody else’s framework? And, in some cases, I’ve found that these forms really help me convey my ideas more effectively than I might have been able to do otherwise.


  2. I bet your daughter will always remember getting two gifts at one time from the tooth fairy. Perhaps the memory of the moment will be the greatest gift.

    1. Several weeks ago, before the most recent lockdown in Israel, we had guests over for Shabbat, and out of the blue, our daughter said to them, “Guys, I’m really sorry, but my parents have spoiled me.

  3. I tend to agree with your wife…kids should retain their sense of wonderment as long as it is possible. There is a whole lifetime ahead of realities past the innocence of childhood. ๐Ÿ™‚

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