My own little bit of magical realism – because all children should live in a more charming world…

Today Child 1 lost her third tooth. She’s not keen on blood and mess so she has never wobbled those that have now departed. Instead she moaned about how distracting the whole process is.

Children her age are just discovering that folkloric figures like Father Christmas may not be as real as the (generally) rotund and jolly versions of Santa who they visit at the local department store or garden centre seem to be. It’s a popular subject of conversation in the playground and some kids are starting to laugh at the (in my opinion) charming naivete of their fellow pupils who keep the faith.

I don’t intend to infantilise my children. I have never shielded them from the news or concepts that make them ask difficult questions – at a level appropriate for their age, of course. We talk about lots of interesting things and they’re engaged and aware.

However we live in a world that is not very stable at present. The things most children rely on can be as limited as school timetables and mealtimes. Well, I don’t see any benefit in casting aspersions on the idea of a bit of magic that makes us all feel warm and reassured. Even the most cynical adult smiles at Father Christmas. Why shouldn’t children too? It’s wonderful that some kids have applied the principles of academic rigour to discovering that Father Christmas may just be a little bit impossible – but it doesn’t bother me that my children tell them that the holiday season is more charming when you take a leap of faith. One day they’ll know the truth. I hope that they’ll pretend that they still believe somewhat, though.

We take Christmas cheer quite seriously in our family. We all believe to some extent – even if it’s just in the uplifting effect that wishing a total stranger a joyful festive season can have. We say ‘Happy Holidays’ too – because lots of people celebrate in December. It’s a time in the year when the weather and the long nights are often miserable – twinkling lights, warm drinks and spending time with the ones we love are necessary at this time. Their powers are restorative in ‘the bleak midwinter’ – to appropriate someone else’s line.

Anyway, giving up on Father Christmas has a domino effect. After him it’s the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Well, since Child 1 has only lost 3 of her teeth so far, I’m not ashamed to make an effort to keep the myth alive.

For this reason, when she put her tooth under her pillow in a carefully labeled envelope this evening – and I discovered that she had written a question on it – I felt compelled to answer.

The question was simple – ‘What is your name?’. The answer was much more complicated. As childhood creations go, the Tooth fairy is global. A version exists in every culture, religion, country and race. He and/or she is very busy – and very accommodating. They are, seemingly, unique to each child. Child 2 imagines ‘a little boy mouse in blue shorts and jacket’. Child 1 won’t be happy with anything less than the Sugar Plum Fairy. If there isn’t a trail of icing sugar around her bed she’ll be heartily disappointed. That I draw the line at, by the way. There are limits.

Instead I wrote a letter from the Tooth Fairy herself (in Child 1’s vision) and I hope it goes down well. It reads as follows –

‘Dear L,

I have many names. In Spain I am known as ‘Ratoncito Perez’ – or ‘Perez the Mouse’. In South America I am simply ‘the Tooth Mouse’. In Italy I am called ‘Topolino’. In France I am known as ‘la Petite Souris’ or ‘the Little Mouse’. In the Basque region, children call me Maria.

In Asia and the middle East I have no name. Children invent their own names for me. However I am mentioned in their religious books. My real name is Rosemary Wells. I work with my friend, Vicki Lansky.

Vicki and I are always very busy. We do our job more quickly because we are very organised.

We work with Father Christmas so we know where children live. We are always prepared to fly anywhere in the world – with the right type of money for each child. You get pounds. A child in France will be left Euros.

We love our work – we hope to teach children that good dental health is very valuable. Try to brush your teeth twice a day. We don’t want to visit early!

Your friends,

Rosemary and Vicki.’.

I hope that this message pulls the wool over her eyes for a little while longer. It’s probably going to end up being the only literature I ever write for children so I thought I’d throw everything at it. Feel free to use it with your own kids. It’s on the internet – it must be true.

Finally, how did I realise that ‘the Tooth Fairy’ is called Rosemary – and works with her friend Vicki?

Well, Rosemary Wells and Vicki Lansky are the authors of the most respected papers on the mythology of ‘La Petite Souris’…and all the other incarnations of the Tooth Fairy. It seemed fitting that they get credit for their work. They certainly seem to handle everything with safe hands.
Organisation is key, after all.

I should add that, if any of the information given is incorrect, Child 1 can blame Wikipedia. Although I will tell her that I suspect that an intern actually does this kind of administrative task.

Let’s be realistic here – the TF is far too busy sorting through databases, planning their wardrobe changes for each child and working out exchange rates to manage every single piece of correspondence.

And good luck to them. That’s a lot of teeth to take care of every time they leave the office. It must be very difficult in China and the middle East – where it’s traditional for children to throw their recently discarded teeth into the air before putting them under the pillow – if they can even find them. Well, the TF can. We can rely on very little at the moment…but I like to think that some people are working jobs they can actually manage. Take a look – now tell me these are women who can’t organise global logistics. Practical clothes, tick; amusing dog, tick; appearance on Sesame Street, tick.

Tooth Towers is not run by Betsy de Vos. Thank God.

Rosemary Wells

Vicki Lansky

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