The Little Mouse

February 17, 2012

Oscar lost a tooth this week and our friends and neighbors have been asking him if La Petite Souris (which means little mouse) left him a gift. We hadn’t heard of La Petite Souris till now, but it’s the French version of The Toothfairy. So sweet! Except. I then remembered my friend Megan’s paralyzing fear of mice and thought The Toothfairy is equally sweet. : )

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Now I’m dying of curiosity. Does every country have it’s own traditions for losing baby teeth? Have you come across a particularly charming one? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — As for which one we prefer? Well it hardly matters, because at our house, both The Toothfairy and La Petite Souris are very forgetful and take lots of reminding in order to get their jobs done.

Illustration by Delphine Doreau.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caddy February 17, 2012 at 3:44 am

I’m not sure about all countries but I know that in Spain it’s Ratoncito Perez who is also a mouse. :D

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2 Nike February 17, 2012 at 3:46 am

There is nothing like this in Germany (as far as I know). Usually kids kept their teeth (there are special little wooden boxes in toy stores for this purpose). In my family, the toothfairy was adopted early from our American aunt and I hear she is getting really popular around here nowadays : ) How fun is it, that the French have their own little mouse?

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3 Bek February 17, 2012 at 3:55 am

In Ethiopia and other parts of Africa they throw their teeth on the roof and a bird will take it away for good luck.

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4 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 6:24 am

That’s the coolest, Bek! I think I could love that tradition.

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5 Leah February 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

There is actually a children’s book called “Throw your Tooth on the Roof” (or something to that effect) and it is about all of the traditions around the world. I haven’t picked it up yet, but it sounds like a neat read!

My husband is Norwegian, and he grew up putting his teeth in a shot glass of water, the next morning the tooth was replaced with a coin. Pretty sure it’s a fairy that does this job but I’d have to ask him. Our oldest has only lost 2 teeth so far, one went into the shot glass and the other went under his pillow. He got a $1 coin in the shot glass and a $1 bill under his pillow…

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6 Tamsin February 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Leah, I’m from Norway, and was just about to post about putting teeth in a glass of water in Norway! It is indeed the tooth fairy that takes it away, although I think this is a pretty recent (last 100 years, anyway), adopted tradition. Not sure where the glass of water came from, although it seems a lot easier on the “tooth fairy” than fishing around under a pillow for a tiny tooth without waking up the sleeper! :)

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7 Vanessa February 17, 2012 at 4:39 am

Here’s a funny story about my friend’s daughter, Rita, who lives in Barcelona. A day came when Rita thought she had figured out the truth about “El Ratoncito Perez” (Spain’s little tooth-collecting mouse). -It’s OK- she said -You don’t have to pretend with me any more. I know the “Ratoncito Perez” is really Daddy. — What I can’t figure out is how he gets into everyone’s house at night to collect their teeth!
:-)

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8 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 6:25 am

So precious I can hardly stand it!

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9 camille February 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

Best story ever! ^_^

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10 Angie K February 17, 2012 at 4:53 am

I am so happy to hear I am not the only household to require a few nights for the toothfairy to realize there is a tooth available!!!!

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11 Emily February 17, 2012 at 4:53 am

So glad to hear that the tooth fairy is forgetful at your house too!

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12 Jillian in Italy February 17, 2012 at 5:28 am

Here in Italy it’s also a little mouse that comes (topolino). And the “mouse” seems to have a hard time remembering to take the tooth here as well (parent fail!). Once our daughter even left a heartbreaking little note under her pillow asking “why don’t you come get my tooth?”. I felt terrible!

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13 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 6:26 am

I feel your pain, Jillian!

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14 AmyB February 17, 2012 at 5:53 am

There is a great kids book about all of the tooth fairy myths around the world

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World

http://www.amazon.com/Throw-Your-Tooth-Roof-Traditions/dp/0618152385/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329483133&sr=1-3

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15 gina vide February 17, 2012 at 5:55 am

Yes, Sweden has the “mouse,” as well! I’m really curious about this… and, I guess, since I was raised with a fairy, tell our children that she makes a special trip over for them! Are you adopting the local traditions? I’ve just finished up some Carnival things, today, too (since the kids are at a Swedish/French school” — Fat Tuesday, next week, brings both: costumes parties for the kids (French influence) and it’s also “Semla Day” on Tuesday (Swedish) — the day Swedes eat these special cream puff pastries. I love it when you share the local traditions and wondered, if you, too will do something for Carnival? (although.. on vacation! We had the party today because we start vacation, too!) I hope all is wonderful! (and warm!)

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16 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 6:28 am

Good questions, Gina. For the tooth, La Petite Souris visited our house here in France. The little ones were told that the fairy lives in the U.S. : )

As for Carnaval, I’m not sure what we’ll do. Last year, the vacation dates fell a bit differently and the kids celebrated at school. We’ll have to search out something fun to do!

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17 everton terrace February 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

What an interesting thought. It never even dawned on me there would also be a mouse – and a sweetly dressed French one at that :)
I am curious about what people leave for teeth nowadays. My daughter is 26 now, so it has been quite a long time since the toothfairy emptied her purse in our home. I use to leave her 50 cent pieces or silver dollars – they were different and fun – she loved them. I’m wondering, with inflation, what the average ‘gift’ is now.

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18 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 6:30 am

What a fun discussion that would be! I should turn it into a whole post. At our house it varies. La Petite Souris brough Oscar a 2 euro piece. But after his major mouth surgery two years ago, where he had several teeth extracted, the Tooth Fairy brought him a nerf gun. : )

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19 jennifer sandberg February 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

We leave “gold”–the golden dollar coins that are available here in the US– just to make it a little more special. They’re not making the coins anymore, so I need to stockpile some.

I wish I would have done a little research before we started; I love the idea of throwing the tooth on the roof, and my boys would like it much more than a fairy!

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20 annie February 17, 2012 at 6:34 am

What an adorable tradition! I agree with you–mice and fairies are not very good at remembering their jobs. Luckily, we’ve found that if you email the tooth fairy she is more likely to remember :)

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21 Julia February 17, 2012 at 6:43 am

i’d rather have a mouse! maybe i will adopt this tradition :)

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22 Giselle February 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

We live in the US but we are originally from Colombia where it’s also Raton Perez who takes away the teeth. Our daughter, niece and nephew have grown up with both so they came up with their own conclusion: the Tooth Fairy is boss and Raton Perez is her assistant. They’re essentially a team!

Argentina made a really cute Disney movie a few years back about Raton Perez and how he turned all the teeth into pearls. :)

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23 topinsur.net March 7, 2014 at 7:06 am

Wowza, problem solved like it never happened.

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24 Jyll February 17, 2012 at 7:44 am

When my niece lost her first tooth, my sister explained to her that the tooth fairy would come and leave money under her pillow and take her tooth. This completely undid my niece who did NOT under any circumstances want a strange woman coming in to her room while she was asleep! My sister was forced to explain to her that the tooth fairy was just a fun thing made up by parents and that she was the tooth fairy. Unconvinced, my niece would have none of it! The same held true for Santa and the Easter Bunny. No strangers in the house!

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25 Design Mom February 17, 2012 at 8:26 am

So funny, Jyll! I love that story.

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26 Janelle February 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

That is the funniest thing I’ve EVER heard.

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27 camille February 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

I love the story too, and I have to say I’d never thought of it that way: how are kids supposed to know that it’s okay to let Santa in, but not a random stranger who might ring the bell on a Tuesday afternoon ? At least your niece has a pretty clear policy set up. :)

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28 Heidi February 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

The tooth fairy forgot to come to our house last night! I thought that ours was the only house that she sometimes delayed coming too. You’ve just made me feel much better!

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29 se7en February 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

We have a mouse… he travels a lot, once he was away on a world tour for six weeks… before he could get back and replace the well treasured tooth with a coin!!! Six weeks is a long time!!! What can I say a mother of eight falls into bed each night and the first thing she hears in the morning is “The mouse is traveling again…” Sigh… I wonder where he is off to this time!!! But he does write copious letters about his travels and adventures… where he has been and what he gets up to… so often it is well worth the wait. Just to have a letter with his signature is quite significant around here!!!

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30 the emily February 17, 2012 at 8:28 am

The first tooth lost in our household was a huge deal…and the tooth fairy forgot to come TWICE! It was awful.

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31 Patricia February 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yes, in my culture (Dominican) he’s called ratoncito Miguel or Miguel the mouse, now i have no idea why. It would be a fun research project to find out. I’m sure it comes from Spain as many of our Latino traditions are uprooted from the Motherland.

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32 snowfern February 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

awww that’s so sweet! the mouse version would have freaked me out though hrmm….

i don’t know if the Chinese have similar traditions with regards to milk teeth, but since my family is quite westernized, i actually tried swapping my milk teeth for $ as a kid, never happened though :E not even sure where i learnt about the tooth fairy, probably TV :X

or maybe I should have told my parents that my teeth fell out before sticking them under my pillow XD

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33 Carrie February 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

In my family, the tooth fairy doesn’t visit us. “Tommy Toothpick” does the visiting. He always had my mom leave us a note (nice save, Mom!) detailing all the mischief he got into around our house while we slept. Super silly things that Tommy Toothpick did. She would also draw a stick figure on the note of Tommy. Stick figure because Tommy Toothpick was made of toothpicks, of course!

My mom said she doesn’t know where this originated but believe her father created him.

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34 Abby February 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

YES! We were traveling through Morocco and our youngest (age 6)was losing teeth left and right. Our guide told us in Morocco you have a choice. You can either put your tooth under your pillow and a “moose” would come, take your tooth and it’s place leave a few Dirhams (Moroccan currency) or a little gift. The other option was to “throw your tooth to the sun and, Inshallah, you will get another tooth better than the one that just fell out.” We offered up the choice to our daughter, “Do you want to put your tooth under your pillow for the “moose” or throw it up to the sun?” The was her first (of FOUR) teeth she lost during a two week trip to Morocco and she opted for the moose. My husband and I thought that was so strange… they are no moose in Morocco. We asked Hamid over and over, “Moose? Really a moose comes at night?” and he kept saying, “Yes, Yes. Inshallah, a moose will come and take your tooth.” Margo wrote the moose a note and sure enough he came, leaving her a few Dirhams.
The second tooth was actually pulled by a waiter! We were in far into the Dades Gorge (a very remote part of Morocco) sitting in a tiny cafe alongside a dry riverbed. Margo’s tooth was about to fall out, bloody, etc. She was holding a napkin up to her mouth and we asked our waiter for extra napkins. Margo was reluctant to have us pull it an opted for the dangling tooth to fall out on it’s own. Our waiter said, “Oh, but what is wrong?” We told him about the tooth and he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Oh, no, no. Open your mouth, please, so I can see.” Margo opened her mouth and before we knew what was happening he reached in, PULLED OUT HER TOOTH, threw it “to the sun” shouting, “Inshallah, you will get another beautiful tooth!” In this case, “to the sun” meant up and over into the dry river bed below. As luck would have it, my husband caught this exact moment on film! We actually have a picture of Margo’s shocked face and Said’s fingers holding the bloody tooth right before he threw it to the sun! I cherish that picture. Margo continued to lose teeth and always opted for the “moose” but we are all thankful for the experience in the Dades Gorge! BTW, there is no “moose” in Morocco… as we found out once we returned home and looked it up. I just couldn’t understand why a moose would come. It’s a mouse. Lost in translation, I suppose. :-) This is another reason I love travel!

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35 camille February 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

What a fantastic story! And I love to imagine what the tooth moose might look like. Perhaps they could adopt him in Canada? :)

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36 Megan February 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

So cute! And lucky girl to be traveling all over Morocco so young!

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37 Abby February 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

Yikes. I apologize for all the typos above!

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38 Michele February 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

In South Africa we have a little mouse as well. But we put our tooth in a shoe and recite this little Afrikaans (like Dutch) poem: Muisie, Muise, gee vir my a steen tant vir a been tant. Which translates to: Little mouse, little mouse, give me a metal tooth for a bone tooth.

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39 ean February 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Throw-Your-Tooth-Roof-Traditions/dp/0618152385

we got this book when my son’s first tooth was loose. he loved hearing about different traditions around the world.

a lot are about rats and mice!

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40 Marianela February 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

In Argentina Raton Perez exchanges the tooth for a coin. My daughter Julia writes long letters to Perez asking for explanations and details about his job, and it’s getting harder and harder to explain how he manages to get all the teeth around the world in just one night.

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41 Patricia February 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

your daughter must be one special lady! reminds me of Mafalda

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42 Megan February 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

My husband is from St. Lucia (in the Caribbean) and he told me that they have a rat too! He comes and takes the tooth and leaves money behind. When he told me that I thought it was kinda scary for kids but seeing your little guy with the balloon makes it pretty cute!

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43 brannon February 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

This illustration reminded me of a woman we met selling her art in Sarlat. I think you’d love it! My French isn’t good enough to figure out how to buy prints from the States, we picked up two while we were in Sarlat but I wish now I had gotten more!
She also has the cutest book, available only on amazon.fr though…
http://mamzellerouge.canalblog.com/
http://www.amazon.fr/Boum-autres-petits-grands-bruits/dp/2352410738/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1329518062&sr=8-3

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44 Charlotte February 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm

When the toothfairy passed over our house when one of us was little, my mother would have us write a note to the toothfairy on a leaf and blow it away in the wind. I would tend to pick rhubarb leaves, because I knew that they were so big that the toothfairy wouldn’t miss them.

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45 LP February 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Great story, Gabrielle. Our son lost his fourth tooth today; at school, by a ball in the face! I teach there, too so I was able to be there for him and snap a photo. It’s all so very exciting. I was rather sad-childhood moving fast and I want to desperately hold on. At home he said, “I miss wiggling my tooth….” So sweet.
Anyhow, when he lost his first tooth, I was prepared with this:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/59192365/rockie-rocket-wool-felt-toothfairie

and this:

http://www.mint.ca/store/coin/tooth-fairy-gift-card-2011-prod1030008

He will only get the special keepsake toothfairy coin for his first lost tooth.

There is also website where you submit a photo and they will superimpose a fairy ….interesting what lengths we go to as parents.

And the toothfairy did forget to fly here once, but as I was quickly reminded, I was able to distract him and insert coin…phew. Close call!

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46 jen February 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Oh my lands! I am so, so relieved to hear that your toothfairy also needs reminding. Sometimes I put a dishcloth over my master bath sink faucet to remind her . . . but so often the kids have to tell me to e-mail her. (That’s when I know they are getting really desperate!)

Love the picture of the little mouse – so sweet!

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47 Kathleen February 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm

My son wanted to know what the tooth fairy did with all the teeth she collected, because they must be valuable if she was willing to pay for them and perhaps he should see if anyone else was willing to pay more. Ha! We told him the fairies need them to make pixie dust, making them valuable, but useless to him.

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48 Corina February 18, 2012 at 8:19 am

My eldest loses her teeth at memorable moments- her first was in Cancun and we were informed that Senor Raton would come and take her tooth! The next was on a trip to Boston, another at 2.00am Christmas morning (she woke to tell me, I had only just completed my Santa duties). It has made fulfilling toth fairy duties a bit complicated.

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49 Irena February 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

Hi,
love your blog!
In Slovenia we have a tooth mouse (but when I was little – now I am 32 – we did not have anything like that). I belive it is now for ca. 10 years… It maight come from stories, cartoons… from foreign countries.
Wishing you all the best, Irena.

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50 This girl loves to talk February 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm

we dont do toothfairy (by the time my kids finally lost a tooth.. they were way to old to believe in the tooth fairy.. so I’m lucky to have never had to worry about it at all.. plus my children like to KEEP their teeth in a container and dont want anyone to take it!)

BUT when one of the kids lost a tooth we had a korean student living with us. She told us that in Korea you throw the tooth on the roof and a bird takes it away. I thought it was a lovely tradition but like I said my girls want to keep their teeth so I couldnt just be throwing them up on the roof!!

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51 LaNae Stout February 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm

In Japan, if the child looses an upper tooth, they throw it to the ground. If they loose a lower tooth, they throw it to the roof. the thought is that the permanent tooth will then come in straight.

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52 Holly February 20, 2012 at 12:25 am

In Canada, the tooth fairy brings loonies and twoonies ($1 and $2 coins, respectively). Twoonies are made out of two different colours of metal, so they are extra special. It’s so fun to hear traditions from around the world!

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53 Lisa February 20, 2012 at 7:11 am

There is a great children’s book called “Throw Your Tooth on the Roof,” and it shares lost tooth traditions worldwide. I love sharing it with my class at school each year during Dental Health month (appropriate since it’s February).

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54 Annette February 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

My son lost a tooth while we were living in Bosnia and he was attending Bosnian public school. I talked to the other parents about it, and they told me that in Bosnia the tooth fairy is only for the Christian kids. I hadn’t realized there were religious implications!

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55 Andrea August 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

In Colombia we have a mouse instead of a tooth fairy he is called Raton Perez

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56 Susan Hood January 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I just came across this conversation while doing some additional research for a school presentation about my new picture book called THE TOOTH MOUSE! Isn’t it fascinating how these tooth traditions vary around the world? I first learned about La Petite Souris while interviewing a little Parisian girl for a magazine. If you’re interested, please feel free to take a look at my book on my website: http://www.susanhoodbooks.com/node/4
And yes, THROW YOUR TOOTH ON THE ROOF is another excellent source of information. I adore Delphine’s illustration above!

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57 jaye May 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I have dear memories of my grandparents leaving silver half dollars for my small teeth and silver dollars for the molars. I have all of them in a small glass jar. I want to give them to our children when they loose their teeth but I do fear the beauty and gentleness of this tradition will be lost. I do remember my mother switching out a regular dollar for a silver dollar when I once wanted to spend it. The big silver coins just always seemed like something beautiful only a fairy (or adorable mouse with a balloon) could bring.

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58 Kelly @ IdealistMom.com May 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

I just loved reading about all these other traditions, thank you for this post! Pinning so I remember to show my daughter :-)

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59 stephanie November 13, 2013 at 4:08 am

I’m originally from South Africa, and there we also have a tooth mouse. Over there you put your tooth & a letter to the mouse in your shoe (under the bed) before you go to bed. then during the night, the ‘tooth mouse’ will take your tooth, write a letter back (my parents wrote it on a small piece of paper & in very small writing) and leave you some money (normally coins). we grew up with the story that the mouse needs the teeth to build a little house for himself and his family and that is why he pays you for using your teeth.

I really love and cherish those memories i have about this, and can’t wait to do the same with my child.

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