21 February 2011


My little boy lost another milk-tooth last night. As he was brushing his teeth before bedtime, he realized that it was wobbly. He panicked a bit, because his Dad was not around to pull out the tooth for him. I offered to do it for him even though playing dentist is one of the tasks I dread the most. (After all these years, I still shiver at the sight of blood!) He refused at first, determined to do it on his own, and because "Dad has always been the one who did it" (reads: I don't trust mom to do it).

After trying a few techniques for about 20 minutes, he gave up and asked me to try. I asked him to lie on his bed, open his mouth wide and think tooth-fairy. He lightened up a bit...but because he kept asking questions like "what colour is the tooth-fairy?" ("colourful", I said) and "what's its name?" (and I said "Casey" because that was the first thing that came to mind). I sang to him a bit. A silly made-up song about a boy who was losing his tooth and how he was rewarded by the tooth-fairy because he was so brave. Then two tugs, and off came the tooth. He cried a bit, but soon was cheered up with the thought that the tooth-fairy would come that night and gave him some money.

"Did the tooth-fairy come when you were little?", his question caught me off-guard. "Well,...yeah". He still wasn't happy with my answer. "Did you put your teeth under the pillow?". "No, no...back then we had to put our teeth at the ropuhan", I quickly said. "Huh, what's that?"...and I went on explaining the ritual of losing a tooth when I was little. True enough, my siblings and I were asked to bury our teeth on the ropuhan, the hearth that was made of soil. Later when we didn't have one available anymore, we were asked to just bury them on the ground,...or else, the new teeth would not grow, supposedly.

Hmm...I wonder how did the tooth-fairy culture get into our household? I can't quite remember anymore but it must have started with the eldest child's insistence (and she is one very strong character), having gotten her input from books and friends. Not that I mind at all. It is actually quite fun, and motivational. After all, we live in a world of cultural-fusion here in Sabah. I guess I'll just have to twist it a bit, in order to preserve the Dusun culture. Maybe get the kids to bury their teeth on the ground instead of put them under the pillows. Who knows, the tooth-fairy might actually reward them extra?


Tina said...

I don't remember what we did with our extracted teeth but I remember how my mother took a loose tooth out. She tied a thread around the tooth and gave a tug! I turned mine like a screw and my mother warned that my new tooth would grow crooked!

T'ting said...

My grandma have told me the same thing_to put the teeth at ropuhan..haha

azamain said...

Ropuhan ? the recent tooth I lost was put in my humble pencil box with all things i lost direction of its usages. and lucky little guy for having a dad and mom who puts money under the pillow after losing a teeth !....:)

Verone said...

Tina- hehe dentists must have been unheard of during your childhood
T'ting- it's nice to have a cultural memory to hold on to :)
azamain- i wonder why the tooth fairy doesn't visit pencil cases? :)