Monday, February 02, 2009

On Milestones and Colliding Cultures

For the past few months, Koji has been lamenting the fact that EVERYone in his class had lost a tooth....."Dai-chan has lost 3 teeth!!!" Finally, a couple of weeks ago, he was positively ecstatic that one of his bottom baby teeth was starting to wiggle a bit.

Every morning..... we had to check to see if it was "ready to come out".

Every morning......I had to explain to him that it takes time for them to get loose enough to come out.

Every morning.....he went to school with his eyes just full of sadness and envy.

On Saturday night, he came up to me and told me that he thought the tooth was ready to come out. I checked it and sure enough, he could wobble it pretty good.

"Get it out. Get it out." he pleaded, "pleeeeeeeeeeeease."

Okay...let me stop right here for just a moment..........Have you seen baby teeth lately? Do you know how incredibly tiny they are? Do you know how friggin' hard they are to get a hold of..... enough to be able to pull those little suckers out?

Do you know how stressful it is to have to try again and again and again to "get it out" and then have the tissue come up empty every time? I wanted to wait a couple more days, but, he had played with it enough that having it in was actually more painful than the process of getting it out.

Between the tears (both his and mine).....6 tissues....and finally getting a good grip on that little-bitty piece of pearly came out.

Here is just how tiny it was.....

Both Mommy and Koji survived...barely....going through such a traumatic experience was pretty apparent on our faces...and the mixture of tears and blood on Mommy's right shoulder? A badge of courage for us both....thank goodness my sweatshirt was red!!

How many more of these do we have to go through?

Please, dear God, let them come out easier!


Here at Kamp Kuroiwa, when a tooth has been pulled or has come out on its own, the tooth fairy comes and takes it away, much like in most houses across North America and possibly other countries. Because Mommy the tooth fairy actually forgot one time to collect the tooth and leave money for Issei, we have a medicine bottle very special container we put the tooth in and leave on the window in the kitchen...because, you know..."the tooth probably got lost in the pillow and she couldn't find it so we need to put it somewhere she will definitely see it". (Yeah, that was some might quick thinking on my part!!)

In Japan, there is no tooth fairy and the idea that a fairy or "Tinkerbell-type girl" comes into the house at night and takes a tooth that has been left under the pillow and leaves money in return is a bit...."Excuse me??" to a lot of Japanese people.

Here....if the tooth is a bottom-tooth, then it is thrown up on the roof of the house. If the tooth is a top-tooth, then it is thrown onto the ground. The idea is that the new tooth will grow strong roots and grow in the direction that its predecessor was tossed.

**I actually asked three classes the "why do you do that?" question and couldn't get a set answer from any of them...that is the general idea of the custom.**

Issei and the tooth fairy really wasn't a big deal. He was one of the first in his class to actually lose a tooth, so he didn't have to deal with conflicting ideas from his friends.

Koji...on the other hand...was a bit confused...he knew what all the others had done with theirs.

On Saturday night, we put the tooth in the "special container" and left it by the window. The "tooth fairy" came and left him 200 yen (about $2) for the tooth.

About 7:00 on Sunday morning, I woke up to him shaking my shoulder and almost in tears.

"Where's my tooth?" he cried.

"I don't know. Didn't the tooth fairy come? Didn't she leave you some money?"

"Yes....but where's the tooth?? We have to throw it on the roof!!!"

Obviously, he thought the tooth fairy was just going to bring him money and get nothing in return. Trying to think as fast as my mind could think on 4 hours of sleep, I told him that we could write a letter to the tooth fairy, asking for the tooth back and we could do it that night. He thought that was okay and our day began.

Last night, we wrote a short "apology note" asking for the tooth back. We left it on the window, next to the "special container". As we were walking into the bedroom, I asked him if he still had the money he got from the tooth fairy. He did. "Why?"

"Well....what if she wants her money back? What shall we do?"

From the look on his face, I could tell that this thought had NEVER crossed his mind....which didn't surprise me....but I put it out there, so I needed to keep going with it.

I told him that I thought that he should put half be nice and to say "thank you" for making so much trouble for the tooth fairy. He agreed, grudgingly, and we put a 100 yen coin inside the container.

This morning....the tooth was returned ("Yeah!") and the 100 yen was still there ("Whoohoo!").

That tooth fairy....what a nice lady she is!!!

And another American tradition continues....sort of.


Now....I'm going to go back to Google to see why on earth, when I first Googled "tooth fairy" THIS guy was included in all the pictures.....

I'm not sure what The Rock has to do with all the tooth fairy does, but...I'm going to find out!!!

Oh, yummy.....this will be fun!!!


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Oh, please do tell us why The Rock came up. I can't think why.

Congratulations to Koji. Those little teeth are a really big deal!

smalltownmom said...

Seriously, the Rock is going to be the tooth fairy in a movie:


Our dentist has a great trick of wrapping dental floss around the base of the loose tooth, and tweaking it right out.

3rdEyeMuse said...

whoa ... your supposed to help the tooth come out?!? lol - poor kid oh mine ... told her it would happen when it happens and to try eating lots of apples. :)

... images of the Rock in a tutu. that's pretty funny. :)

phd in yogurtry said...

Congrats Koji!

Unfortunately, my kids know "Momma doesn't do teeth." It really grosses me out. From when I was a kid, even. Yuck. Yuck. Can't bear to look at wiggly teeth.

I hope your boys appreciate what a good trooper they have for a mom!

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

The tooth fairy ALWAYS forgets to come at our house. Sometimes the kids have to leave her a big sign at night.
One time Robert tried to convince me that "the last time the tooth fairy left me $20". I didn't fall for that one. Me and the tooth fairy are super tight.

Janet said...

oh my stomach was turning when you talked about pulling the tooth, but by the end I was laughing and then I was rewarded with eye candy! Better than yen! Thank you :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Debbie! Brooke here. OMG We just had this same thing happen here with Julia. She even told me to punch her so that her tooth would come out because "Everybody else has lost a teeth and I haven't!" Well now she is without the bottom two and looks just toooo cute! She pulled the second one by herself. After the terrible screaming over the first one that I pulled (the dang thing was so loose that I didn't even pull, but you know the drama!) I made her do it! Congrats Koji! Love ya'll!


Ginaagain said...

I love the mixing of cultures and creating your own traditions. We messed with the tooth fairy tradition a bit here too but not because of any wonderful cultural issues but because Mommy never has any money in her purse. In our house the tooth fairy requires that a call be made to schedule a fly-by. If the tooth falls out too late in the day she might already be on her rounds and won't make it until the next night. I like your tooth fairy better.

Ginaagain said...

Oh! and one other thing.... our dentist taught me the greatest trick to help those teeth come out. Take a long length of dental floss and thread it through the spaces on each side of the tooth then have the child take the ends of the floss in opposite hands and pull them apart. If the tooth is ready it will pop right out and if it's not the kid stops pulling as soon as it hurts. It works really well and mommy never has to feel guilty about causing pain.