Monday, June 29, 2009

Sweet Tooth

I am a conservative Christian, and I acknowledge that there are many controversial issues that regularly get addressed among those in my rank: magic, fairies, spells, Santa, the Easter bunny, witches, Halloween, Harry Potter, and so forth. Many Christians often consider such topics as taboo, evil, forbidden, and even Satanic. I've heard the arguments and had even changed my mind about Santa at one time. But I can't ignore the memories and experiences I had as a child and how they affected me and my beliefs. I'm not going to get into the details of all of those or why I changed my mind again about Santa. I'm just going to tell you that one of the reasons I love children's literature is that it is saturated with fantasy, the impossible, the what if's, magic, fairy tales, and talking animals. Some people pick and choose about what they wish to teach their children and that's perfectly OK with me. I'm just giving my opinion.

I still remember the ritual I went through as a child when I lost a tooth. My sister and I both had our very own tooth pillows. They were handmade pillows with a little pocket in the front for the lost tooth. I still have my pillow. Upon wakening in the morning, a quarter and even once a dollar bill I found! I always felt rich, and I definitely believed the tooth fairy put it there. I don't see what's wrong with make believing with your child that the tooth fairy put it there instead of you.

I know in many cultures, children are taught certain things that aren't true in order to make them behave in a certain way. When visiting an indian reservation in Arizona on a church mission trip, the children warned us when talking about the wind. They are taught that the wind is like an evil spirit that comes and harms children when they misbehave. Even my grandmother told me that she experienced relatives who scared children using a satanic mask to get them to behave well. That is clearly not what I'm talking about. I don't agree with parents frightening children with make believe as a method of parenting. I don't even agree with telling children Santa won't bring them presents if they are bad, and I won't be using that technique in my family.

This is a long introduction to my topic of Tooth Fairies but I wanted to explain my position because it's one I've thought about time and time again and one that's an important topic to me as a children's literature fan.

In my collection of books, I have a couple of books on the subject of tooth fairies.

Tooth Fairy Magic, by Joanne Barkan

It has sparkling glitter on the cover and pages and also glows in the dark to help create that magical feeling. The boy in the story hopes for a silver dollar under his pillow. He meets the tooth fairy and helps her find the homes of other children because she lost their addresses. I like the idea of putting a unique coin under a child's pillow to make it even more special. Even a really big 50 cent piece looks like it's worth more than it is.

What Do the Fairies Do With All Those Teeth, by Michel Luppens

This book is a "What if" kind of story where they just imagine what tooth fairies who are dressed as witches do with the teeth they collect. They never answer the question but definitely make you think!

"Do they string them into necklaces? ...Perhaps they just make sets of false teeth?"

I also want to have a special place for my children's teeth whether it's a pillow, a box, or whatever. I don't want to create a huge ordeal out of it, but sometimes losing teeth can be scary times or traumatic depending on how the tooth is lost. Some of my baby teeth were pulled because my mouth wasn't big enough for my teeth and all of those adult teeth coming in. Even though they weren't the most pleasant circumstances, I had some joy in the magic of fairies who I didn't find frightening and the small fortune they left me.

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