We have been visited by mice Chez Nous; they came, like rodent thieves in the night, in search, not of cheese but of teeth.
Ah yes and bien sur, It has certainly been a busy week for the tooth mouse here. Both boys having dropped a dent , one from natural causes and one rather more reluctantly with a bit of help and a lot of brute force from the dentist ,a nice chap, camp as a row of boy scout tents ,with a chin stud, its him who has the chin stud not the tents, and alas a great deal of blood and tears (from middle not the dentist).
Here in France as in Italy, Spain and parts of South America children do not have anything as namby pamby as a fairy to collect their tumbling teeth, oh no, they have a little mouse. Traditionally the recognised currency for a tooth in France is a small toy, hence you put your tooth under the pillow and in the morning hey presto, or as it is France “Bam”, you awake to find the tooth gone and as if by magic, a matchbox car or its Gallic equivalent has appeared in its place, and very possibly permanently embedded itself in your ear. Since having a supply of suitable small toys involves a lot of forward planning, and in the case of it being embedded in ears a bit of medical intervention, over timethe international currency has altered so that generally the mouse whips the tooth and its gummy giver gets a Euro coin.
They say that the tooth mouse originated in France ( well the French would say that wouldn’t they?)and first showed up in an 18th century French fairy tale “La Bonne Petite Souris” in which a good fairy helps a poor brow beaten queen in distress by turning herself into a mouse, hiding under the kings pillow and smashing his teeth out, thus teaching him to behave more kindly. Apparently the same tradition is found in parts of Lowland Scotland where it’s a white fairy rat that does the business. Sounds horribly like a Glaswegian bedtime story to me, well you've heard of a Glasgow kiss haven't you?
Of course the questin arises that, if one happens to be teh family tooth mouse what doe sone do with all those teeth? After all you really can not be too careful with teeth. Before the mystical arrival of the mouse with attitude, milk teeth were buried when they fell out with a plant n top to keep them safe. In almost every culture across the globe, Teeth are recognised as valuable things , and not just because without them it makes eating pork and crackling a trifle difficult, you can’t leave them lying about for just anyone to find, after all witches might steal them and thus gain power over your body and soul. Interesting that since not too many years ago they discovered you can extract DNA or something from discarded baby teeth and grow cells form them which gives them the potential for treating all sorts of horrible things that the now grown up owner of the tooth might develop in later life.
Each of our kids have their own personal tooth fairies, I know, I know they should be mice as we live in France and the kids are more French than English but old habits die hard. You can’t expect a fairy to morph into a mouse mid childhood it would be like Father Christmas having a sex change. Eldest one is called Flossy but since Eldest has all her grown up teeth we don’t use her services anymore. Anyway, Flossy would have to use a pair of wire cutters to get any more teeth out of that mouth as its wired up with a brace, hence Flossy, who in her prime I seem to remember had fluorescent pink hair, has gone into retirement.
Middle has a small dark scruffy haired butch sort of fairy called Molar Gumbo and smallest has Dentina who is without doubt a dainty little thing on gossamer wings. Molar Gumbo has to be big and tough because middle is a right softy and doesn’t give his teeth up without a lot of blood and waling so needs a great hunky tooth fairy on hand for moral support and a positive role model. Youngest needs a soft caring creature as mother here,very cruelly ,did not pass on her enamel to her baby ( doubly remiss of me as I seemed to have managed to pass him the gift of dyslexia which he could well have done without) several of his baby teeth had to be removed at a very tender age and she does a nice line in telling him how brave he has been.Our little tooth fairies send letters to their charges, tiny things in spidery writing on minute rectangles of paper, reminding them politely to brush their teeth and be good to their sibings and aged parents. Sometimes, if written late at night after the surprise uprooting of a tooth and too much wine being imbibed by parents ,the writing is even more spidery and indecipherable than normal. Occasionally the tooth fairies get letters sent back with a thank you or as in this week missive from youngest, with demands for information such as
“How big is a tooth fairy? “(Bigger than a speck of dust and smaller than a mouse)
“Where do you live?”” (Here there and everywhere)
“What do you do with the teeth? (Mind your own bloody business and go to sleep otherwise you don’t get the euro comprendre?)
On Monday night youngest built his fairy a fine little house from white paper complete with windows, shutters and a door and was terribly saddened and disappointed that she didn’t take it with her. Luckily swift witted mother said she probably wanted to leave it by his bed to use as a holiday cottage or a stopover on long haul flights. Of course had Dentina taken the small house that might well have been wrong too. Life is never simple in fairyland. He had wanted to make her a small set of clothes as well but it was getting late and Mummy wanted to go to bed even if he was happy to stay up to prepare her a trousseau, so after much foot stamping, by me, he settled for a sleeping bag instead , hastily made by him from from a cotton wall balls and one of his sisters hankies, his being far to rough and masculine for one so dainty, not to mention of course he can never find one when he needs one.
Sadly the Dentist has decided that Middle needs 3 more teeth removed in order that he too may have a mouth full of wire like his sister, and eventually one hopes a dazzling smile. which I suppose means that poor old Molar Gumbo may be kept quiet busy for a while. I wonder if Dentina might consider sub letting him her sleeping bag and tiny paper house ? I can see another flurry of letters to the tooth fairies in the offing. I suspect it would be a lot easier if we had settled for a French tooth Mouse with aggresive tendancies I am pretty sure they don't charge half as m,uch as the Dentist !
Ah well ,better go and practise my spidery writing .