The Fairy House
Boys cannot be trusted or at least that’s a truth by which my four-year-old daughter has lived. She believed that boys would sooner knock you to the ground than look at you. If a boy at the park approached her, she would head for the swings or tuck herself behind me. Somewhere safe.
Her best friend is a boy in her PreK class. She knows all the words that start with “H”, the same letter as his name. She discussed with me the possibility of changing her favorite color to red (his favorite). We tried out a red toothbrush. She chose a red plate at meals until she confided in me that she couldn’t do it; blue was still preferred.
Instead, she cut out bits of red construction paper to make an H which she taped to baker’s twine. She drew Hs and hearts (which she was delighted to discover also started with the letter H) on cardstock that would become a wall of her fairy house.
This architectural masterpiece has been her “quiet time” project for the last couple of months while her little brother naps. Two stories of cream-colored cardstock held together by tape and princess stickers. I showed her how to make cone roofs, and towers popped up. Drawn-on flowers and vines twisted around working doors and windows. Ladders made of cut drinking straws lead to patios on second floors. She made one room a library and filled it with miniature books that she illustrated and covered with Ms (the letter her name begins with) and, of course, Hs. The house has grown so big we can’t lift it safely off the dining room table anymore.
One day a turret went missing. I assumed it had been relocated to her bedroom; perhaps it was now Rapunzel’s tower. Or, maybe she took it outside to fill with acorns. She didn’t seem upset by its absence, so I wasn’t going to bring it up.
I dropped her off at school the next day. As I was getting back in my car, H’s mom pulled up.
“That was so sweet of your daughter to give my son a fairy house,” she said. “He tells me she’s his best friend.”
I smiled, nodding, pretending I knew. My daughter must have sneaked it into her backpack while I was busy with her brother. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t told me her plans. I was the one she asked how to spell his name. I helped her tie the paper and baker’s twine bracelet around her wrist. I was the one she confided in the day he chose to play on the train instead of on the monkey bars with her.
But then I realized I would have done something horrible. I would have tried to talk her out of it, thinking I was doing it for her own good, to spare her hurt feelings. What if—something that meant so much to her, that she had put so much energy into—wasn’t appreciated? What if she presented it to him in class, surrounded by seven boys and two girls, and he didn’t understand what she was giving him and tossed it away? She would be without a fairy tower and a best friend. I would’ve tried to explain to her that sometimes boys are thoughtless without meaning to be. I would’ve unintentionally fed that mistrust she was growing out of.
I’m so glad she didn’t tell me her plans because today at pre-school, this four-year-old little boy brought her a fairy house he made just for her, a beautiful toilet paper tube covered in Scotch tape and dandelion blossoms and leaves.
“See, Mommy,” my daughter told me. “He made the roof out of leaves. The fairies might get rained on. I’m going to show him what you showed me, how to roll the paper to make it pointy.”
I’m so glad I didn’t have the chance to do the wrong thing when I thought I was doing what was right.
Candice Marley Conner loves fairytales and has to take turns with her five year-old and two year-old on who gets to be the villain. Evil cackles and rawrs have been mastered by all. She is represented by Lotus Lane Literary and has a YA mystery and MG fairytale retelling out on submission.