Monday, 8 September 2014

The Tooth Fairy, La Formica, Le Souris

My little granddaughter has lost her first milk tooth, actually two of them. It was a great event, it warranted a phone call to let us know. When we saw her next she told us all about it, where it had happened and what it felt like. Her tooth had fallen down the plug hole in the sink so her daddy had written especially to the Tooth Fairy to let her know where to find it. Then she proudly let us gaze into her mouth to see where the missing tooth had been. It was a wonderful sight, her clean pink little tongue and the pearly white remaining teeth, like raspberries and cream. Quite different from my poor mouth which bears the signs of too many sweets and an over- enthusiastic dentist from the sixties. My little granddaughter eagerly awaited the arrival of the Tooth Fairy and was very pleased with what she brought her. When I first came to Italy the Italian children asked La Formica, the ant, to come and get their milk teeth, and French children had Le Souris, the little mouse. The Tooth Fairy came to me and my brother and brought us a silver sixpence for each tooth. We would put our lost teeth under our pillow and in the morning they had magically disappeared and there was a shiny coin instead. Oh the wonder and the thrill of waking up in the morning and sliding your hand under the pillow until it reached the treasure. That sixpence could be taken to a little shop round the corner from where we lived and all sorts of wonderful sweets could be purchased with it. Shrimps, sherbert dabs, wagon wheels, liquorice allsorts, acid drops, a small bar of chocolate, flying saucers, gobstoppers, toffee which is why I ended up with so many fillings. Mums and dads are wiser now and we all know the danger of too much sugar. In Elizabethan times sugar was so popular that Elizabeth I had black teeth and this was considered to be a sign of wealth. How times have changed. Back to the Tooth Fairy, I found this lovely poem written by a loving dad when his daughter lost her first tooth, so here it is, for my son and daughter-in-law and all other parents on this momentous occasion.

The Tooth Fairy, by Jonathan Reid.

It is a pearl of great price,
My daughter's tooth.

It has danced in the aisles of her utterance
And upheld the vaults of her breath.

It has prepared the bread that sustains her
And stood vigil by her bedded tongue.

It has put on whiteness for her Sunday smile
And champed at small delays.

Pale vestal, though your temple hours are run,
God's work within the sanctuary goes on.


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