Fragrance Girl + [story]

The Tooth Mouse!??
magritte

About a week ago while I was brushing Christina's teeth I was surprised to see something that looked like a new tooth coming in. "It couldn't be," I thought, "she's only five." But, surprise, surprise, it was a new tooth. And her baby tooth in front of it was really loose.

So I told her the story of the Tooth Fairy, and how she brings presents to little kids who put their teeth under their pillows after they come out. The Tooth Fairy was one of my favorite stories when I was a kid, and I firmly believed in her for probably longer than most kids do (I also remember believing in Santa Claus for a long time too. I even remember getting in an argument with another kid at school about him. She said that he didn't exist; I said that he did). I finally had to admit that the Tooth Fairy didn't exist when I lost a tooth while I was away at summer camp, and despite the fact that I put it under my pillow that night there was no toy to greet me in the morning, just my tooth.

At any rate, since I loved the Tooth Fairy so much I was sure that Christina would too. And she got very excited when I told her the story, especially when she realized that she was going to get a new toy. The next day she was going to school and I was telling her to make sure to show her loose tooth to everyone at school. I wasn't sure how the Tooth Fairy was translated into Spanish so I asked Lucho. "Oh, we don't have anything like that here... Well, I guess we have 'el Ratoncito de los Dientes'." "What??" I thought, "the Little Tooth Mouse!?? What does that mean?"

I asked around a bit and found out that there is a story behind the Tooth Mouse. Apparently his house was destroyed and he goes around collecting children's teeth to use as building blocks for his new home. In return for the tooth he leaves a gift under the pillow. According to Christina's 8 yr-old cousin, this story is much more "logical" than the Tooth Fairy story (actually I've never heard a story explaining the Tooth Fairy's motive for giving gifts for teeth; there might be one, but I'm not familiar with it). I thought about the idea of a Tooth Mouse for a while and I guess it makes sense that a little mouse would be able to sneak under a pillow easily and take a tooth without waking the child. And to be fair, the term "Tooth Mouse" is probably not a great translation. The idea is something more like, "the cute little mouse that collects teeth." Mice can be cute, but..., well..., it's just not the same as a fairy (at least in my mind). To me, they are much more exciting and magical than mice.

Christina's friends at school filled her in on the "Ratoncito de los Dientes". Apparently he prefers to leave money rather than toys, although one friend told her that she got candy (hmmm). I thought about having the Tooth Mouse come into our house to take Christina's tooth, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. In this house, I decided, we are going to have the Tooth Fairy! And she was going to bring a toy, not money or candy. I guess those childhood fantasies just never die.

My sister-in-law - who fortunately is also a dentist - looked at the tooth and said that it should be pulled out soon since the adult tooth was coming in quickly. We've never been able to get Christina to sit in a dentist chair for long, but with the promise of a toy from the Tooth Fairy she allowed my sister-in-law to clean her teeth and then pull out the loose tooth. Thanks to some anesthetic spray and a quick pull Christina didn't feel a thing. She was thrilled to have the tooth out and kept looking at herself in the mirror.

That night she put the tooth under her pillow and in the morning she woke up to the toy that the Tooth Fairy had left her. Now she is telling everyone that "el Ratoncito de los Dientes" is called "the Tooth Fairy" in English.