Further to the tooth-fairy post, I was reading one of Godmother Betty’s donated Woman’s Realms this lunchtime (never admit to buying this yourself, unless planning to roll it up and beat somebody on the bottom with it *) and on the problem page discovered another yet another interesting snippet of tooth-fairy lore. Here is both the question and answer:
My grandson is about to lose his first tooth. I was talking to my daughter-in-law and I asked what they were going to leave him from the tooth fairy. She said nothing, as it’s made-up nonsense and she doesn’t want to fill his head with rubbish. I think that’s a bit mean.
Of course, it’s her and your son’s decision whether they do this or not. The tooth fairy is a very old tradition: it was believed that burying the tooth would ward of evil spirits and protect the child. This seems a bit outdated now. But will this single him out from his peers at school and how will they react if he says it’s all made up? It might not please other parents!
I think many people do this as a reward for their child who’s moving into the next phase of their life. For some children, it helps them to manage the discomfort of both losing a tooth and the new one growing. They know that alongside the bad parts of this experience, they will get something nice. Maybe your daughter-in-law could focus on this bit, rather than the fairy.
What interests me is the daughter-in-law, and the subtext: some kind of power struggle going on between these two? Or echoes a very unhappy childhood.
They used to believe, in Victorian times, that children were Empty Vessels and it was the educator’s job to ‘pour’ knowledge into them. Alternatively, children were a Blank Slate or tabula rasa, and it was the educator’s job to write useful facts on that slate. Since both a Vessel and a Slate have finite capacity, it might well be possible to waste valuable space in in/on them with rubbish. But this concept has long since been discredited. Children seem to be perfectly capable of sorting fact from fantasy, as they get older. They just re-categorize things. And what would childhood be without fantasy?
Well, I’ve had a rubbish day today. Things are supposed to go to plan but they never do. According to the internet the local Post Office is open on Sundays. I got there, it wasn’t.
According to the internet Boots the Opticians in a distant town are supposed to be open on Sundays, so I could have collected one of my new pairs of glasses and had a week without headaches rather than with. However, I got there, I paid for parking – it wasn’t. Barriered off, with a little handwritten note impaled on the barrier: We are not open on Sundays any more.
The loo in the car park was closed, it being Sunday. The loo in BHS was closed, it being the final week of their Going Bust Sale and so Frankly, My Dear they no longer give a damn about the public’s convenience.
I sat in Tesco’s car park and ate an overpriced egg-and-cress sandwich and a chocolate bar. The chocolate bar was mostly melted by the time I got to it since the temperature inside the car, even with both windows open, was at heatwave level. No hint of breeze. The water in my water-bottle, which I had foolishly left on the passenger seat, would have been warm enough to wash my face in. My face felt in need of a wash, but thirst won.
On the way back from the far distant town with the air-conditioning on full blast, I got stuck in a traffic jam. I crawled home, listening to Gardeners’ Question Time. I now know all about New Zealand flatworms. They look like British worms, apparently, but somewhat flatter. Did you know they eat the British worms? Yes, worms are their diet. They are also slimier than ordinary worms, and the slime is pretty nasty stuff; not good to get on your hands. And the way to trap them is to stack old plates and saucers under a tree or in a cool, damp place, whereupon the New Zealand worms will worm their way in between and await their eventual fate at your vengeful hands.
In between all this driving, I spent an hour at the home with Godmother Betty, watching Mum eat half a bowl of cornflakes very slowly and drink half a mug of tea even more slowly. A shrill alarm sounded constantly. That’s when someone in one of the rooms has tried to get out of bed. There are alarms under the carpets. The carers ignored it. The other old folks ignored it. The home’s enormous tabby-cat ignored it, waiting for a triangle of sun to get round to his spot on the carpet. Luckily Mum is stone deaf.
And tomorrow I start training for a new job, back in that far distant town, which means I’ve got to get up at five in the morning for the next four weeks, and probably won’t get back till seven in the evening.
Ah well. Onwards and upwards!
* The Ballad of Barry and Freda: Victoria Wood