Tuesday 9 October 2012

No White Fairy Rats

Hurricane lost his first tooth the other day. It is a milestone of sorts, telling one and all that you have become a bigger boy than you were just a day before. It is also one of the first ways for a person to earn money. It’s a tough way to make a buck, but no worse than selling blood and infinitely better than selling a kidney. Somehow, looking at a kid that is missing a tooth makes them even cuter. It’s a good thing too, because when they reach the age of losing teeth they have also gained the knowledge and ability to drive their parents insane.
I was wondering today just where the whole concept of a tooth fairy came from. I am pretty sure that there isn’t some 13th century saint that went around taking kid’s teeth and giving gifts for them made by elves. If there was a guy like that, he wouldn’t be sainted, more than likely he would be stoned. Not in the good way.

In early European tradition they would bury the babies teeth when they fell out. Now, whether they believed that was the way kids grew I just can’t say. I do know more than a few women that wouldn’t object to picking their baby off of a tree instead of giving birth the regular way. Wikipedia says that it was tradition to pay the kid when the sixth tooth came out and to place money under the pillow. An American study in 2011 found that the average amount paid for a tooth was $2.60. That is up quite a bit from the quarter that I got. I say a quarter, trying to paint a rosy picture of my parents, but more than likely it was a nickel or a dime.

This whole idea of giving money for lost teeth is a little suspicious to me. I think that the idea was invented by a consortium of dentists and candy makers. They have the most to gain from the “Tooth Fairy”. The candy makers have generation after generation of kids that have mouthfuls of cash which is paid out at more or less regular intervals and they have not learned anything about saving. Prime consumers! The dentists have an obvious interest in kids eating as much candy as they can get their hands on. Kids are just walking luxury cars and Hawaiian condos to them.

This money gifting for teeth is a western tradition, but other countries have their own traditions. In Italy, France and Belgium the Tooth Fairy is replaced by a little mouse. In Lowland Scotland the fairy mouse is replaced by a white fairy rat that purchases teeth with coins. If that doesn’t give kids nightmares, nothing will. In Japan the kids throw the upper teeth straight down to the ground and the bottom teeth straight into the air in the hope that their teeth will grow in straight. Maybe the Scottish and English should try this method, it couldn’t hurt.

I kind of like the idea of giving kids money for teeth. Well, I really liked getting money for teeth when I was a kid, and now that I am at the other end of my life, it seems it would be a good idea to get money for the teeth I am losing. Not a lot, just enough to pay for the dentures would be nice. But no white, fairy rats if you don’t mind.

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