Tuesday, 29 January 2013

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

One thing that's guaranteed is that, as we grow up we all experience certain rites of passage - first kiss (Christopher Timmins at the local Grammar School - or was it Andrew Mahafey or Howard Someone or Other?), first pint (Halfway House around the corner from school), first illicit fag (on the 890 bus back from school) and losing our first tooth. Although admittedly this last one comes (hopefully in most people's cases) slightly earlier than the first three examples.

Losing our first tooth is tied up in the myths we are led to believe when we are little - Father Christmas, Jack Frost, The Tooth Fairy and, in my case, that Cliff Richard invented the lawnmower. Dad has played on my gullibility since the day I was born but that's another story. Apparently Cliff also invented the internal combustion engine.

So, The Monkey has lost his first tooth. It seems someone unknown had told him that a tooth fairy comes and leaves you a nice wedge of cash in exchange for said tooth so there was a lot of expectation from the minute it started to wobble to the minute I  was called to attend the murder scene in the bathroom where he had yanked it out. And then suspended expectation mixed with complete panic when he took it off my laptop where it was sitting for safekeeping and then promptly catapulted it across the bedroom as he tripped over while he was examining his extraction handywork.

Belief in the tooth fairy is quite widespread and apparently so popular even with adults, despite it involving the expenditure of hardearned cash, that only 3% decide not to perpetuate the myth when they themselves have children. The Wikipedia definition is "The tooth fairy is a fantasy figure of early childhood.The folklore states that when a child loses a baby tooth, if he or she places it beneath the bed pillow, the tooth fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small payment." It also says this tradition is practiced in various countries in the Anglosphere, wherever that is. 

The Tooth Fairy aka Jordan
Obviously there are two aspects of this which are open to personal preference and interpretation . Firstly, what guise does the fairy take?.  A survey conducted in 1984 (someone clearly needed to get out more) found that 74% of respondents thought the tooth fairy was female in the classic tinkerbell style which seems quite sensible. However, some people seem to think "it" is a dragon, a rabbit, a mouse (quite a popular theory that one), two little old men (??) , a dental hygienist, a potbellied flying man smoking a cigar (??), a bat, a bear and a rat. We wouldn't need a fairy rat - we could just put a little pair of wings on the real one. So, the inhabitants of Anglosphere are undecided on what the fairy actually looks like. Apparently though some people leave a trail of glitter across the floor to replicate fairy dust? That's insane - why create hoovering for yourself?

Secondly, what is the value of a child's tooth? Not much in our house. Why raise the already inflated expectations of a small boy by giving him more than 50p when he has no concept of the value of money anyway? This caused some raised eyebrows from my friends who all seem to be incredibly generous with payments fluctuating between £1 and £5. PER TOOTH! My sister in law pays less than her ex-husband so her kids do their best to manually extract their teeth when they're staying over at his house. My sister reminded me that we used to get a bag of pic 'n' mix when we lost one.

What doesn't seem to be in dispute though is the manner in which the tooth is left for the fairy, whatever guise he, she or it comes in. It seems to be standard practice to leave the tooth under the pillow. Except in our house where The Boy lives in a parallel universe in which parents leave the tooth buried under salt in an egg cup. What?? This caused many many raised eyebrows amongst friends, none of whom had ever heard of this tradition, even his sisters who swear this didn't happen in their house. So, that's what we did. The poor tooth fairy had to ferret around in an egg cup full of large-grain sea salt and then try and bury the measly 50p back under it so that The Monkey could get it all over his fingers in the morning and then need 3 gallons of water after he'd licked them thinking it was sugar. When I questioned The Boy as to where exactly this "tradition" of his came from, he admitted he had absolutely no idea. Clearly he had made it all up, just like when I told everyone I knew that Jon Bon Jovi lived down the road.

And so a tradition has now started in our house. One in which it seems we will get away with minimal contributions for lost teeth (just as well with three of them) but which is going to cost far more in sea salt and egg cups.  I may just tell them all now that it's all a big joke and that Father Christmas doesn't exist either.

Bah Humbug

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