- 'Maman, I have ssssomething to tell you.'
- 'Yes sweetheart, what is it?'
- 'Well ssssomebody bumped into me today in the yard'
- 'Oh and what happened?
- ' Well look!' she says, giving me the widest grin ever.
And here it was, the biggest gaping hole at the front. One of her front teeth had fallen out. It had been wobbly for the past month and Whoever's elbow gave her a little knock in the mouth and managed to knock the tooth out.
- 'It was gushing blood you know!' (great detail!)
-'I'm sure it was, so who's going to come tonight then?'
- 'Well the tooth fairy of coursssse'.
Well, sure, here it is the tooth fairy. She comes around and collect the fallen teeth in exchange of one coin (Warning: If any of your children are reading this over your shoulder, please get them to look away, NOW!). I made the mistake on her first tooth of putting more than one coin under the pillow and I was sharply reminded in the morning.
-'There was something wrong with the tooth fairy last night.'
-'Was there?', I asked, my brain racing at a hundred miles per hour, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. We did ask family and friends what the going rate was for the tooth fairy these days.
- 'Yes, she gave me 3 coins ( yes, there is no 5 euro coin yet), and she is supposed to give you only one (where do you go with 2 euro these days?)'
- Oh (relief), they must have fallen out her bag. (She does carry a bag, right?, I mean she has to, carrying the teeth back to the castle and all, doesn't she?)
- Oh, they must have then. (Ouf, sigh of relief)..
You see, in France, we don't have the Tooth Fairy, we have the Little Mouse. She doesn't build a magical castle with the teeth, she just leaves them under your pillow and yet still gives you money. And you can put your baby teeth in little containers for keepsakes.
Same goes for the Easter Bunny. I mean a giant bunny rabbit that hides eggs around? No, no, no, the eggs are left by the 'Cloches' (the church bells) on their way back from Rome after being blessed. A giant bunny rabbit, come on!! Bells are much more believable *cough*
Here, you don't celebrate the Kings (6th of January). In France we do, we have special cakes for it too. It is tradition for the youngest one to hide under the table and assign each piece of the cake to make sure that there is no cheating when it comes to finding the 'feve' (a small ring or emblem hidden in the cake). Whoever finds the 'feve' is the king (or queen for the day), and with that comes the burden of buying the next 'galette'. That tradition goes on for most of January.
We don't celebrate Hallowe'en in France. We get dressed up on Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) but we don't have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. No, we have them on the Chandeleur (the first Monday of February).
Oh, and Santa doesn't leave coal if you have been naughty. Of course not, instead the 'Pere Fouettard' comes around and gives you a good spanking. I mean coal, at least you get heat out of it. No, a good spanking is much better *cough cough*. Nothing positive comes out of it.
So sometimes, it gets confusing of course. Marie looks at me strangely when I try to explain that we don't have a Tooth Fairy but a Little Mouse, or that Santa doesn't leave coal. It can be quite confusing for my family too and it does lead to funny episodes (especially with my mum). Last one to date was last week when she asked Marie if she got her pancakes. Of course, Marie was outraged that I had forgotten about Pancake Tuesday (although it all took place on a Monday). It took some explaining and I'm not sure she got it really.
So today, I got thinking about how innocent children are, about the things we believe in when we are that young. That it doesn't matter where you're from, because there is a bit of magic in every culture. We all believed in something magical like a giant Bunny Rabbit or that bells really drop eggs down from the sky on their way back from Rome. Or that a fairy collects teeth to build a castle. And we all found it absolutely acceptable and plausible. It also got me thinking that it is quite sad that when we grow up, we stop believing in such magic. We don't believe in it anymore, yet, as parents, we are keen to perpetuate it. We are glad to safeguard our childrens innocence and unbelievable imagination. And, while we perpetuate the myths, we still add our own little touch and use whatever is left of that unbelievable imagination to give answers (are children getting more and more inquisitive or is it just me?). And through the years, the myth changes slowly but surely and adapts itself to more contemporary times, still keeping some of its ancient meaning and magic.
So tonight, I am off to do just that, perpetuate the myth and turn into the Tooth Fairy (or would
I rather be a Mouse)...