The tooth mouse, or fairy if you prefer, is an almost universal concept. The loss of the first tooth is a significant milestone in the life of every child.
So much so that the Waldorf School curriculum has a heavy emphasis on the stage of a child’s development, believing that the loss of the first teeth heralds a whole new phase of childhood.
Families around the world celebrate this milestone in different ways, but whether the tooth is left in a box next to the bed, under a pillow or in some cases thrown on to the roof, every child knows to expect a visit from the tooth mouse.
This little creature is said to visit in the deep of night, removing the tooth and replacing it with a reward.
What exactly happens to the tooth is a bit of a mystery.
Common consensus seems to be that the mouse is building a castle, and baby teeth are the bricks. Most children accept this macabre arrangement quite happily.
Probably because they have their eye on the prize: the reward for losing a tooth is usually cold hard cash.
As a parent, you’ll know that the tooth mouse is as magical and as real as Father Christmas is, and that every cent attributed to this mouse does in fact come from our own bank accounts.
Children have 20 baby teeth, which means that as a parent you could spend anything from R20 (at a miserly R1 a tooth) to R1000 (at the princely sum of R50 per tooth) over the course of this milestone.
We asked around to find out what the current going rate is and found a variety of answers, but the most common amount seems to be R20 per tooth.
Mom of two, Lauren, told us “R20 to buy a nice treat like an ice cream. I think you should go with what you feel comfortable with”, while moms Kirsty and Gabi agreed that R10 was enough to buy a treat at the till.
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Some parents start out big, with R100 for the first tooth, and then R20 per tooth after that.
Yolande, mom of four, told us how her son kept his loose tooth in his mouth as long as he could, waiting until his weekend visit to the grandparents.
“He said that the mouse at his grandparents’ house is richer than our mouse! I give R50 to R100, depending on how good they are, but Grandma’s mouse has given as much as R200 for a tooth” she explained.
Several mothers described how they prefer to give their child a gift to mark this special occasion, anything from stickers to bubbles to puzzles to pyjamas.
Other moms set up little rituals, including gold coins, glitter surprises and even notes from the mouse for each tooth.
But mom Rachelle learned a tough lesson in what NOT to do. “We started a ridiculous thing for ourselves: a fresh note with shiny glitter.
However, when a tooth fell out when we were away on holiday, we couldn't keep up with ourselves. It caused a lot of questions!”
How much money does your tooth mouse leave behind, or do you prefer the mouse leaves a small gift?
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