Oct 302008

Of course I had planned to write about something completely different. Again. I should just get used to it. Do you do that too? Do you have a list with ideas for posts on it that goes back more than a year?

Well, Rae wrote something about the tooth fairy which tied in with the fact that one of my son’s teeth has started to come lose. For about a year now he has asked us if there will be a tooth fairy at our house when he’ll lose his teeth. And for a year (or maybe more) I have said, “I don’t know, I’ll have to talk with your father about it.”

You see, when I was a child there was no talk of tooth fairies here in Germany. Losing a tooth, and especially the first tooth was, of course, a milestone but then you had the option of putting it somewhere safe, or throwing it away. Now that Germany seems to become more US-like every day all of a sudden not only do we celebrate Halloween, but there seem to be Santa Clauses and Tooth Fairies around too. I’m confused.

On the subject of Halloween in Germany I have to say: What? Halloween? Dressing up is what carnival is for, also the 31st of October is Reformation Day, and now do I have to buy candy for tomorrow or not? Because the year before last there were about ten trick or treaters. Last year there was none, not a single one, and I ended up eating all the candy myself. Three years ago there were two, by the way, they knocked on our door two days too early and put liquid soap in our mailbox because I didn’t give them candy on account of thinking they were joking. That’s what happens when you adopt foreign customs, you get them all wrong and get confused. End of Halloween rant.

So, with the tooth fairy. I’m completely opposed to giving children money for something like losing a tooth. My husband feels the same obviously, he mumbled something like, “What will children get money for next, pooping?” Which leaves us with a bit of dilemma nonetheless because, according to our son, he will be the only child in kindergarten (or maybe the whole world) who won’t receive a toy for losing a tooth. Bummer. And again, foreign customs equal confusing because as far as I know in the English-speaking world there will be coins for teeth, not toys.

I haven’t spoken with the other parents about this but I expect it to be a bit like the “tradition” of gift bags for children who attend birthday parties. As far as I know this “custom” is about five years old. But in an act of collective memory loss everybody nowadays knows, of course, that if you’re hosting a birthday party for your offspring, every little guest has to receive a nice little bag with little plastic toys and yet more candy. So far I have avoided the “gift bag issue” by doing making crappy non-fitting pirate hats with the children which they could take home with them. Ahem.

I could tell my son to suck it up, or tell him the truth, “Your parents are mean and do everything different than others, get used to it.” but somehow I think he won’t like it. So once again we’re opting for not lying to our son, there is no tooth fairy, no Easter bunny, and no Santa Claus. We also tell him not to talk about this too much because there are people out there who want their children to believe in these stories, and they don’t like it when you tell them different.

In the end I thought about the underlying need he had. His real reason for asking about the tooth fairy isn’t that he wants his childhood to be more magical. (It’s magical enough as it is because he lives a parallel life where he is the queen of Teddyland. Teddyland is the land where it’s always summer, there are fairies and unicorn dances, and nobody has to brush their teeth. All his stuffed animals are alive there. They also have excursions to Candyland quite often. Just so you know.)

The underlying need is the want for toys and money. He is in a phase where he believes that if only he had all the toys and things and sweets he wants he surely would be happy. We try to tell him otherwise, and we try to help him be happy too but it might take a bit of additional convincing. The concept of money is very fascinating to him, he tries to understand it, and why I get to buy books, and magazines, and yarn, and he doesn’t. At least not as much.

So today, on the spur of the moment, I decided that he will start getting pocket money when his tooth falls out. He found that quite nice, then said, “But I’m getting pocket money already.” No, you’re not. When one gets pocket money one gets it every week. Wow! You should have seen him. Much better than the tooth fairy. Money every week!

  8 Responses to “Why there will be no tooth fairy at our house”

  1. I have told oliver he can go to a halloween party but he cannot go trick or treating. quite frankly i hate the idea of both but to go to a children’s party is nice. the last two parties oliver has been to have been fantastic as he has just been given a small toy, not a bag full of crap that his mother instantly puts in the bin. I couldnt tell him santa does not exist though, although to be fair i dont htink he believes in him anyway

  2. Great to see you are making conscious decisions Susanne, and doing your best to avoid falling into the ‘because every other parent is doing it’ trap.

    If I may ask another question for you… is your son’s new pocket money linked to chores, or is it given with no ties attached?

    Good luck surviving Hallow’s Eve! 🙂

  3. I am pure American on these things. I loved Halloween, and am hoping my boys will, and we had a tooth fairy (even though we knew it was the parents).

    Gift bags from parties, though? Yuck. Hate ’em. Wish people would stop giving bags of plastic crap and junk food to my kids. Grrrrrr.

  4. Interesting, I never thought, that birthday gift bags could be american. I (and my first husband) know them from our childhood here in Hamburg. During the party you get sweets and little things (like an eraser, an screwdriver), and you collect them in a bag (so you have not to eat all the sweets immediately). Or you get the a little gift at the end of the party.
    Really, never thought of it being an american practice.

    And: I rant about Halloween like You (although I allowed and helped my son to go for trick and treat)

  5. I would love to know more about your traditions…..

  6. Getting caught up on blog reading…It is so weird because I didn’t think Halloween was *really* celebrated here, or I guess it depends on where you live. So we totally don’t do Halloween. But it’s more that I’m just lazy. And don’t see the whole point in getting bags full of candy that will most likely go in the trash or eaten by me.

    As for the tooth fairy, I know some people who go overboard – like giving $5 per tooth!!! Insane. But I think it was started to help the kids focus on something other than freaking out over a lost tooth. Helps them think about the goal rather than the scary wobbly tooth journey. But then you have to ride it out for all 20 teeth! I don’t have to think about it yet for my kids, but not sure which way to go. I certainly don’t think that they should get “paid” for not really doing anything, but maybe a small token like 50 cents or 1 euro. I remember when I was little I was always amazed at how the tooth fairy knew to come every time. But then dang it, one day she forgot and it was over.

  7. excellent ,Thanks for the post

  8. how did I miss this? Well, anyway, it’s very interesting about the adoption of American customs. Are these in addition to German customs, or are those getting phased out? I’m not aware of many new customs being embraced here, despite the demographic shifts.

    I thought to start giving Fiona an allowance this year (which is not related to chores, which are expected and not paid), but she still lacks sufficient understanding of the value of money.

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