Balanced Melting Pot

The Rat versus the Tooth Fairy

In Culture, Parenting, Questions, Traditions on September 15, 2008 at 9:32 am

Our daughter is on the verge of losing her first tooth. Of course, she is impatient for it to come out since many of her friends have already lost several, but I just realized that I haven’t talked to her about what happens afterwards.

I remember losing my first tooth (I was already in California) like it was yesterday. My mother instructed me that I needed to stick my head out of the window of our apartment, which had the roof of the parking garage directly underneath, and tell “the rat” that I was sending it a beautiful tooth. In return, I wanted “the rat” to send me an ugly tooth. I have to admit that this made no sense to me at the time, but she explained that by asking for an ugly tooth in return for my beautiful tooth, “the rat” would really give me a shiny white tooth. As convoluted as this tradition sounds, this was most likely my first lesson in humility

So, now the question is: Do I engage my daughter in the Haitian tradition of “the rat“, or do I simply use the American tradition of the tooth fairy (which is what the majority of her friends have described to her)? By the way, I don’t think it is effective to use both because I think that each teach very different values.

Do you have any cultural traditions that you have bypassed for the American equivalent?

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  1. For us, it’s a little of both. My husband is from Colombia and I was born in NY, and raised in Spain, so we have a number of eclectic traditions. When my daughter lost her first tooth, we did the tooth fairy thing, but instead of money, we gave her a gift she had been wanting. We also explained that it was only a tradition, and that the real tooth fairy is anyone who loves her. “The Rat” thing is interesting, though…:)

  2. That’s a good idea. Maybe “the rat” can bring her both a shiny new tooth and a present/money.

  3. In my family we were told to put the tooth under our pillow and the next morning there could be a gift which is usually money but sometimes the parents would forget to make the exchange then they say it’s because we were bad. Oh well, I guess Santa is in the fairy business also.
    As for the new generation we went with the american way but we also tried the under the pillow so they claim to know the fairy which I guess is whoever they cought replacing the money for the tooth..
    However the rat story took me back to my childhood.

  4. LOL, forgetting to make the exchange = bad children. Santa is a much easier one for us because it’s basically the same concept (without sending a letter to the North Pole listing what you want Santa to bring you).

  5. There are many haitian traditions that are links to these American tooth fairies. We need to speak to the elders in our families and find these coalations and give these children both cultural truth. This is when it is handy to keep in touch with the grand parents and great grand parents of the family.

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