I arrived at the doorway of my daughter’s pre-school classroom to pick her up. We made eye contact and I could see that she was very excited. I knelt down to her level as she ran over to me and happily announced, “Mommy! I met the tooth fairy today!” “You met the tooth fairy?” I incredulously replied. “Yes! She wears glasses and wings, and a blue dress,” my daughter replied. One of her teachers walked over smiling having overheard our conversation. She explained that the Tooth Fairy, from the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, had in fact come to visit the children and talked to them about the importance of taking care of their teeth by brushing every day and not eating too many sugary sweets.
That was the first time my daughter had ever heard of the tooth fairy, but she quickly took to the idea and I could tell that she was already eagerly looking forward to the day she would lose her first tooth.
For readers who may not be familiar with the tooth fairy, you may ask…why? Well, a couple of the older children in her class had already lost a tooth. They informed her that after a tooth comes out, if she puts it under her pillow at bedtime, the tooth fairy will come while she is sleeping, take the tooth, and leave her some money in return.
Sometimes I feel guilty about perpetuating things like Santa Claus and leprechauns, but when I see how much fun it is (both for me and my girls), I quickly change my mind. I have to admit though, on this particular day, I wasn’t ready to start thinking about another character. I mean, the girl didn’t even have any wiggly teeth yet!
To add to this, since I was raised with Hispanic culture, my tooth fairy was a little different. In my home, when you lost a tooth, you still put it under your pillow at bed time, and when you woke up, it was gone and money was under your pillow in its place. But the money did not come from the tooth fairy. It came from Ratón Pérez. Yes, that’s right, a mouse. I told my daughter about Ratón Pérez, but she did not believe me. She said, “A mouse? Really mommy? Why would a mouse want your tooth?” (I thought to myself…why would a fairy want your tooth? I don’t know!) I said, “Yes, really. You should talk to Abuelita, she’ll tell you about Ratón Pérez.” She did ask my mom the next time she talked to her, and my mom confirmed, that yes, he comes to take your tooth.
Well, since that day, my daughter’s best friend lost a couple of teeth. Guess what? The tooth fairy came. She left the best friend four quarters. “I wish I would lose a tooth,” my daughter added when she was done telling me about this. “Your baby teeth will start to come out when your adult teeth are ready to grow in. You just have to be patient. Don’t grow up too fast on me!” I told her.
My daughter started Kindergarten last fall, and some of her classmates lost their first teeth. “When am I going to lose a tooth?” she would ask me each time a different classmate would report a visit from the tooth fairy. “I don’t think your baby teeth are ready to come out yet sweetie,” I would tell her. She would look in the mirror and check each tooth individually to see if any felt wiggly.
One day my daughter came home from her after-school sewing class and pulled out a tooth shaped white pillow with a little pocket in the front from her backpack. She proudly explained that the pocket was meant to hold the tooth in place until the tooth fairy came to take it. Then she put it in her dresser and said, “I’m saving it right here so I know exactly where to find it when my teeth start falling out.”
At her dental check-up this past spring, she showed the dentist two teeth she thought were loose. She also reported that she thought they might come out soon because lots of her friends had already lost their teeth. The dentist smiled and acknowledged that they were in fact slightly wiggly, but that she should not get too excited because it could still be a few months before they would come out.
Well, she had to wait about three more months. Earlier this summer (right before her 6th birthday) when I picked her up at summer camp one day, she ran over with a big grin on her face. She said, “Guess what?!” I said, “What?” and she pulled out a Ziploc bag with one tiny white tooth in it. Then she opened up her mouth and pointed at her gum. I gave her a big hug and said “Congratulations!” She was beaming. She said it happened while they were having a morning meeting. She was playing with it, and all of a sudden it popped out. She said everyone gathered around her to look at it and some kids even told her she was “lucky”.
That night, she put the tooth in the pocket of her tooth shaped pillow. When I tucked her in I said, “It will be interesting to see who comes to take your tooth tonight.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, you think it’s the Tooth Fairy, but I think it might be Ratón Pérez.” She said, “Okay mommy, we’ll see.” The next morning she woke up to find a dollar bill in the pocket of the tooth pillow. She also found a book tucked under the tooth pillow. The book is titled “The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez” and the inside cover was signed by the Tooth Fairy AND Ratón Pérez congratulating her for doing such a great job brushing and encouraging her keep up the good work.
What’s your tradition for dealing with lost teeth? Is this typical in your country or particular to your family?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Eva Fannon. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.
Photo credits to the author.
This is such a sweet post. I love how you were able to marry the two traditions.
Thanks Mud Hut Mama. Sometimes it’s hard living with two different cultures, but I keep trying 🙂
So precious! 🙂
Despite my husband and I being Italian, both our kids were born in South Africa …. Tooth Fairy territory! 🙂
Is it weird that I’ve still got those milk teeth despite the fact that my “babies” are respectively 19 and 16 years old? My husband wanted me to throw them out the same day the Tooth Fairy left the money … but I still haven’t been able to do so … despite my teens telling me that it’s “gross” that I still have them!
Thanks Simona. So what do they do in Italy?
I kept the tooth. She lost a second one while we were visiting my mom and I realized while I was writing the post that my mom kept that tooth! My mom still has a few of my baby teeth. She showed them to me not too long ago – all wrapped up in tissue in her fire safety box – LOL. I guess we’re all just sentimental moms 🙂
Oh, this is so sweet 🙂 It made me smile.
I havent yet told my son any tooth characters. In India, here it is not so big like the Santa Claus.
BUt he is excited already because a few of his friends have lost tooth and he is waiting for his to come out soon.
I loved that both the tooth fairy and Raton perez got to sign her book. She is one lucky girl 😉
Tell her that!
I will definitely have to remind her how lucky she is Purnima….hadn’t thought of it that way….she got two special visitors instead of just one! 🙂
I had no idea! And, personally, the idea of a mouse is entirely more plausible than a fairy. But, then again, I’m a cynical adult and not a fantasy-prone child. I remember those very pillows with the pockets. I think we always knew my mom was putting the money in there (again, cynic from way back) but I did marvel that she managed to do it each time without waking us. I really enjoyed this post!
I know how my son is going to turn out to be like.. lol!
When I told him about Santa Claus, he said, reindeers dont fly. They dont have wings and even if they had, the wings cant carry such a heavy body! End of story! lol!
Too funny Mama Mzunga. Sometimes I wish my oldest was more a of a cynic, but I do love seeing how excited she gets about these child fantasies 🙂
ok, I think the story was super cute! And I just LOVE the idea of the book and the autograph of both, the Fairy and Perez! What a great idea!!! In Poland we don’t have Tooth Fairy or anything like that. I bet that the ides of Tooth Fairy is common in Poland these days… In those last several years Poland has started to use many of American traditions.
Interesting about no tooth fairy character in Poland Polish Mom Photographer. So when you were little, what did your family do with the baby teeth?
we just throw them away 🙂
i kept one of mine in a jar, but it got lost.
That must have blown her mind! I love how you are still passing down your hispanic culture to your daughter. So touching!!
Lovely post, Eva!
Thanks Jen! And yes, I’m trying to pass down what I can from the way I was brought up 🙂
So cute! Love how you are able to combine two cultures and what a brilliant way for the school to bring the tooth fairy 😀
Hi Maureen – at first I was a little shocked about the tooth fairy coming to school, but she brought tooth brushes and tooth paste, showed them how to brush, and provided some education about taking care of your teeth. That is brilliant! The teacher said the kids were mesmerized….and I remember that night my daughter actually volunteered to brush her teeth without me asking!
Eva, I can’t believe you found a book that honored both characters (wait, what am I saying,I’m an aspiring children’s book author…of COURSE there’s going to be a title out there on JUST what you’re looking for!) that’s so cool! All these global kids these days, who knows what new mystical characters will evolve?!
Our six year old just lost her first tooth too. Our saga was much the same…it seemed (to her) that EVERY classmate lost a tooth before her. When it came time to leav it under her pillow, however, she was reticent to part with it. Our benevolent Fairy left her some money all the same and commended her on being attached to her tooth after all of this time…she did, saddly, fail to sing the merits of good oral hygiene. Good thing she has 19 more chances to get that message across…maybe the Mouse would have done a better job ;o)
Kyla, I couldn’t believe it either. I was looking for a book to tell the story of Ratón Pérez to my daughter, and came across that one instead – it’s perfect!
I have to admit, a fellow mom friend with a daughter who had already lost teeth advised me about including praise for good oral hygiene in the note. In her note, the Tooth Fairy said she pays more money when teeth are bright and white. Since then, her daughter has been more diligent about brushing 🙂
I love the book and that you were able to include your tradition. My baby is 4 so no tooth fairy visits yet for her.
Hi Sara – yes, my big girl didn’t lose any until 6, but she had a friend who lost her first at 4! So interesting how it’s so different for everyone. Thanks for stopping by!
This is so much fun Eva! What a great idea to merge the two traditions. I’m from Mexico originally so I definitely try to introduce some of my culture and heritage to our daily life. I will have to buy that book when the time comes for Evan and Josh to loose their teeth! We might have to include a third character, depending on where in the world we are at the time!