Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fairy Wing

    Girlybird and I were sitting in the backseat of the car talking about this and that when I plucked a piece of something white from her hair. It was a small, gauzy thing shaped like a leaf or flower petal.

     “It’s a fairy’s wing,” I said.

     My granddaughter looked at me with a skeptic’s eyes, doubt forming on her tongue. Girlie is six and doesn’t believe the Easter Bunny is real or the Gingerbread Man was seen running through her school chanting, “Run, run as fast as you can…” We talked about butterfly wings for a minute.

     “If you rub the dust from a butterfly’s wings you can hurt it,” I said, examining the scrap of white in my hand.

     “I know, Grandma, that’s why I never touch them.”

     “I wonder if it is the same with fairies…”

     “They have pixie dust on their wings,” she lisped through the double-wide gap in her front teeth.

     “Yes,” I said, smiling, “pixie dust.”

     “Didn’t you touch the Toothfairy’s wings?” She knows the story about Gossamer Toothfairy dropping by for tea when her mommy’s teeth went missing. Was she testing me?

     “I didn’t think it would be polite,” I said, holding out the fairy-wing in the palm of my hand. “This one looks so small it must belong to a child. Maybe fairy children lose their wings and grow new ones as they get older just like you lose your teeth.” Girlie’s eyes were beginning to shine. I talked about finding bits of colored shell from robin’s eggs scattered on the ground in the spring; told her that mother birds protect their babies from hungry animals and naughty children by dropping the broken pieces far from the nest. “I wonder if that is how this wing got caught in your hair; maybe a mother fairy was flying past and dropped it.” I paused, considering. Timing is delicate when dealing with a sagacious six-year-old. “Maybe it’s not a fairy wing;” I said casually, letting a shred of doubt creep into my voice, “maybe its just a piece of that flower you have clipped to your…”

     Girlie snatched the wing from my hand before the bubble of possibility popped. “No, Grandma, it’s a fairy’s wing,” she said in a determined voice that dared me to contradict her.

     Sly grin. That is as it should be. I didn’t con my granddaughter, grandma’s no grifter; I just think children should believe in the unbelievable, and anything I can do to encourage her to suspend her disbelief is part of my job.

     And who knows what things may be true that we have trouble believing in?

Illustration by Arthur Rackham 


  1. I suppose we really don't know. Like your granddaughter, even though I'm an adult, I like having at least a little of that belief in the unbelievable in my life.

  2. Such a sweet discussion with a granddaughter.A discussion that leaves room for pondering and future discussions with her...maybe over tea, with the fairies!

  3. Thank you for your comments on my blog! :) We like the 'barn' look of the new house too. Some others have said it looks like a winery with the wood garage doors. You are always welcome to visit/ stay with us whenever you want! ♥