Monday, August 18, 2008


In case you were wondering, the Tooth Fairy does make visits to the Southern Hemisphere. The neighbor girl told me so. Haley lost her third tooth just now, her first in NZ. On our walk home from school-it was still intact at this point, hanging by a gooey pink thread- she told me she was going to lose it and we wondered out loud if they have the Tooth Fairy in New Zealand. I made sure to ask it loudly enough for the neighbor girl to hear as she was walking several paces ahead of us. I'd been watching this girl's two front teeth slowly grow in over the past couple months, and thought she was a likely expert. She took the cue and quickly turned around, smiling with her too-big-for-her-smile white teeth and said to Haley, "Don't worry, the Tooth Fairy comes to New Zealand." And just for the record, upon further probing she informed me that she usually leaves a $2 coin.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh. It's time for Chinese Restaurant then. Wish we were closer so we could go together.
grmma barb

MLW said...

A 2 dollar coin?Man, the tooth fairy must be rich in NZ. I think the Wisconsin tooth fairy only leaves a quarter.

Steve said...

Sounds like a lot of money, but $2 NZ is about $1.40 US and has the purchasing power here of about $0.50 US.

Dr. Cathy Ezrailson said...

Ed wants to know if she can still whistle "Yankee Doodle?"

I found the following cool "tooth fairy info" on the web:

Tossing it up on the roof
As with many American traditions, the tooth fairy has roots in European folklore. Historians say that the tradition of burying a lost tooth in the garden or surrounding field was done in hopes that the permanent tooth could then grow in the child’s mouth to take its place. This tradition was also steeped in superstition because of the belief that if a witch got hold of the tooth, a curse could be placed on the child or the tooth-holder could have power over the child. (Some more ancient European traditions even called for throwing the baby tooth into the fire to ensure a child was free from any magical intervention.) The tradition of burying the tooth changed because when cities began to grow, teeth were planted in flower pots or planter boxes as open space dwindled. The next progression of the story is that the dirt was done away with all together and the tooth was “buried” under a pillow. Who comes for the tooth? Well, it depends on where you live.
In England, Canada, and Australia, the tooth fairy tradition is the same as ours. In Denmark, the tooth fairy has the name “Tandfeen,” and leaves money behind. The idea of relationships as well as financial exchanges between people and benevolent fairies has been around for many years, especially in English literature. But fairies are not the only collector of baby teeth in the world.
In France, the “buried” tooth under the pillow is collected by “La Petite Souris,” a little mouse who will exchange the tooth for money or candies. In Spain, it is the mouse named Ratoncito Perez who collects the tooth and leaves treasure. In Argentina, children put their tooth in a glass of water. El Ratoncito comes to drink the water, takes the tooth, and leaves treasure behind in the glass. In Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, and Venezuela, El Ratón, the magic mouse, has the honors. Some children chant, “Rat, rat, rat. I give you a beautiful tooth. Send me back an old tooth,“ hoping to trick the rat into giving the child what he/she really wants. In South Africa, the tooth is placed in a slipper and a mouse takes it and leaves a gift in its place. In some areas of Greece, a mouse also takes the tooth. In other areas, the tooth is not buried but thrown up on the roof of the house for a pig to take. A rhyme is chanted, which loosely translates: “Take sow my tooth and give me an iron one so that I can chew rusks.”
Throwing the tooth on the roof seems sort of odd compared to our way of doing things, but it is how most children in the world dispose of their baby or “milk” teeth. In India, the tooth is thrown on the roof in hopes that a sparrow will bring a new one. In parts of Africa, many children throw an upper tooth on the roof and bury a lower one in the ground. Some families believe that if a lizard sees the tooth, a new one will not grow in its place. Sri Lankan children throw the tooth on the roof and hope a squirrel will come and get it. In East Asia, children throw a lower tooth on the roof and an upper one is buried, thrown down on the ground, or hidden under the bed. The thought is that the new tooth will grow toward the old one and come in straight. A wish is often made as the child throws the tooth.
Other animals - including rabbits and birds - are involved with tooth exchange. Brazilian children throw the tooth outside and believe birds will come to take it, but only if it is clean. A dirty tooth is left behind and the child gets no treasure, which is great encouragement for good oral hygiene! Children in El Salvador think a rabbit comes to get the tooth. Some Alaskan tribes feed the baby tooth to another animal, such as a dog, and ask for the tooth to be replaced.
Some Central American countries make jewelry out of the teeth for their child to wear, which may be from an ancient Viking tradition. Historians say that in those days it was believed that children’s articles were powerful and lucky, and were often carried in battle. A “tooth fee” was paid to children so the adult could have the use of a baby tooth, and the tooth was often made into jewelry.
Inflation seems to have crept into the tooth fairy’s economy as the price of a tooth seems to be going up. In the 1940s, a dime was the going rate. In the 1950s, American children reported getting a “shiny, new quarter” for their lost baby teeth, while in the 1960s, the going rate was usually a Kennedy half dollar. In the 1970s and 1980s, a dollar was the average exchange fee. In the 1990s and 2000s, the price has varied from one to five dollars, often depending on which tooth was lost. Historically, the first lost tooth seems to bring the most income to a child in the United States.
The tooth fairy is a very big deal to a young child. The anticipation is great for kindergartners and first graders as they anxiously await the day when they can announce to the class that they have lost a tooth, show off the space, and put a sticker on the lost tooth chart in class. A huge smile appears on the face of an impatient 6-year-old when a hygienist can finally report, “I see a wiggler!” While it’s true that a piece of childhood may be lost with every lost tooth, it’s also fun to watch those new, permanent teeth grow in to take their proper place.
The tooth fairy and all of the other imaginary entities that carry off baby teeth are firmly a part of folklore and the heritage of many cultures.

Love, Grandma Cathy

Patois said...

Thank God for neighbor girls and Grandma Cathy!

Patois said...

Oh, and remember not to let on to Hailstorm that it's all downhill once the third tooth goes. Time for her to find a job.

jen said...

I stumbled across your blog in researching a potential move to Waikanae. We are a family of 5 (with 3 small children) from the Bay Area. If we are offered the job we are interested in, would you be open to dialoguing about our potential move? Any advice we could gleam would be invaluable!

Steve said...

We'd be happy to, Jen!

Please feel free to post any questions as they come up as comments and we'll be happy to respond.