My not quite four-and-a-half-year-old daughter has her first loose tooth! Now, how is this connected to her bilingualism, you ask? Well, if things were still the way they were when I was a kid, and if we didn't live in France, it wouldn't be a problem at all. We'd get a nice little box for her to keep her baby teeth in, maybe I'd read the story of how Astrid Lindgren's Emil tries to pull out the maidservant's bad tooth, and that would be that. BUT...
Since I was a kid, the tooth fairy has travelled across the Atlantic and has found her way into German children's bedrooms - and stories. In France, a little mouse comes for the tooth.
So, here I am, not really into either, and my daughter's first tooth might come out any day now. Who is supposed to collect the tooth of a bilingual/bicultural child? Will the fairy and the mouse fight it out on the pillow? (Now wouldn't that make for a lovely picture book illustration?)
The sane parent in me says that a mouse dressed as a fairy will come and leave the cash, or whatever it is they leave. The crazy parent in me says that the fairy and the mouse duke it out, leaving evidence of a fight of course, and leave an explanatory note in German saying that the mouse won this time, but the fairy can't wait for round 2, so if the child would be so kind as to leave the tooth in an addressed envelope for the tooth fairy next time the tooth fairy would very much appreciate it and double whatever the mouse is paying.
Luckily our two cultures don't have bad contradictions like that other than Grandfather Frost and Santa Claus, but they come on different days so it's actually really nice because Christmas is for our American extended family, and new year is just our own holiday with much the same traditions but on a different date.
The sane parent in me says that a mouse dressed as a fairy will come and leave the cash, or whatever it is they leave. The crazy parent in me says that the fairy and the mouse duke it out, leaving evidence of a fight of course, and leave an explanatory note in German saying that the mouse won this time, but the fairy can't wait for round 2, so if the child would be so kind as to leave the tooth in an addressed envelop for the tooth fairy next time the tooth fairy would very much appreciate it and double whatever the mouse is paying.
Now that should be made into a picture book! "The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy"!
The crazy parent in me says that the fairy and the mouse duke it out, leaving evidence of a fight of course, and leave an explanatory note in German saying that the mouse won this time, but the fairy can't wait for round 2, so if the child would be so kind as to leave the tooth in an addressed envelope for the tooth fairy next time the tooth fairy would very much appreciate it and double whatever the mouse is paying.
I love this.
The crazy parent in me (which, I admit, tends to dominate my sane parent side) has told my kids that they can always get some quick cash for the things they want to buy if they just knock out all their teeth and leave them under the pillow. (I got a windfall this way when I was six. )
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
When I was growing up (completely in English), my mom was the "Tooth Fairy" and my dad was the "Tooth Monster." I knew there were two of them, but I didn't quite catch on until later why there were two... Another possibility is that one parent could impersonate multiple tooth-collectors, so you could have both a "Tooth Fairy" and a "Tooth Mouse."
By the way, a friend of mine was just telling me that she doesn't leave gifts/money under her kids' pillows. Instead, she leaves a note (from the "Tseyn-Moyz", i.e. "Tooth Mouse") with a riddle in rhyming Yiddish -- the kid has to read the note, crack the riddle, and then figure out where the gift is hidden. She's thinking that for the next tooth, she'll make her son write a letter himself to the Tooth Mouse in Yiddish, or else the Tooth Mouse will be offended and not leave any gifts. I think that's brilliant -- it creates a real need to use the language, gets the kids thinking and using their brains, and it sounds like a lot of fun.
Tatyana, if you write it, I'll translate it into German!
Una, it went well. My daughter's favourite book character is German and had the fairy take her tooth, so we stuck with that, and the fairy brought a big chocolate coin and a little bracelet with a heart in a cute box. That same story has the character's mother say the tooth fairy only comes for the first tooth, which seems ok with my daughter. She'll get a personalised little box for her milk teeth when her second tooth falls out - it became loose the day her first one came out.
Tatyana you have got to do that book!!! I will need one in the not too distant future too (mouse vs. fairy will be the dilemma here too...) Go for it!
Mayken it sounds like it all worked out perfectly! A good experience for all! There's no sign of my 4 yr old losing a tooth any time soon and I'm thankful for that...we can be a little dramatic at times!
In Puerto Rico is the mouse (el ratoncito Pérez), but here is the fairy, my kids are always talking about the tooth fairy and I explain to them that in my country it is a mouse. I have always think when this happens here is going to be a mouse fairy, so good to think others think the same thing.
"New Day,New attitude,New Blessings, New things to learn,New adventures to conquer."Marielys Martí
We have opted to do whatever they happen to do in the country we are in at the time (no lost teeth yet, but we did recently have to deal with the Easter bunny versus "the bells" (French)). And as my husband is both French and Belgian, we have opted for both Father Christmas (25 December) and Saint Nicholas (6 December). Lucky kid!
Even though our children are still too little to worry about this, it's something we've wondered too. In the end, we decided we'll tell them the mouse visits children who speak Spanish and the fairy those who speak English (which should makes sense for them, because they've heard of the fairy on TV and will hear about the mouse when talking to their friends). We plan on telling them that since they speak both, they have to choose one or the other. There are these super cute tiny little doors for the mouse that can be bought (and I can order one for the fairy online), so we'll get one or the other depending on their preference.
As far as Santa Claus and the 3 Kings (who bring children presents at Christmas in Spain, on January 6th), they get books from Santa (he speaks English after all) and some small toy at home only, and the 3 Kings bring them presents at home and at grandpa and grandma's.
Mayken: My daughter's ml homework for this week included baking a cake - there's a cake in the story they read, and after each chapter there are questions and tasks, and the current chapter has the step-by-step recipe. She's to bring the cake to school too.
May 1, 2018 23:48:48 GMT 9
Amy: What a nice original homework! Makes such a change from standard homework, and I wouldn't be surprised if kids remember more from it! I like your bilingual school Mayken! Lucky little girl, and lucky Mummy!
May 2, 2018 0:00:43 GMT 9
Mayken: ml cake homework update: About half the class brought cake (8 out of 15), not all of them were the cake from the book recipe, but my daughter's was the most popular. (Maybe because we added food colouring and topped it with chocolate icing and smarties?)
May 4, 2018 5:58:10 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Cake is definitely my favorite kind of homework!
May 4, 2018 11:28:51 GMT 9
Jana: One of the best parts of having kids in bilingual school was getting Mother's Day cards in two languages! (With less-than-perfect spelling in both!) Ha!
May 15, 2018 9:16:08 GMT 9
Amy: (Twice) Lucky you Jana! So nice to read exciting pieces of news like yours!
May 16, 2018 5:46:25 GMT 9
Mayken: I still have that to look forward to, Jana! Mother's Day in our ML country is two weeks later, and the ml teacher goes along with that date. (It was last Sunday in our ml country.)
May 16, 2018 5:58:11 GMT 9