Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Apprentice

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She fluttered in with a grace that masked her 175 years. Her petal dress was made of the finest roses. Her wand was the envy of all the fairies. With every good deed, it shone brighter and brighter. If only we could hope to be as well-traveled, well-read, and refined as she, we would all be tooth fairies. Tooth Fairies are really the only ones anyone talks about these days. I thought about being a sea-fairy but there is such a rivalry with mermaids. I thought about being a desert fairy but I have very dry wings and all that heat wouldn't help the matter. I also thought of being a Spring fairy, but I have allergies. Yes, I am a fairy who is allergic to pollen...what luck!
Dentitia approached me one day to talk about what kind of fairy I was trying to be. It was a particularly bad day when I had lost my wand for more than the fifth time. I also put too much fairy cream on my left wing, which just held me down. All I could do was fly in a circle.
After moonlight meal, Dentitia pulled her acorn chair over to mine and said she had something important to talk to me about.
What had I done?
“My wings are starting to wrinkle. I don't fly the way I used to. I probably only have another few summers before I won’t be able to work anymore.”
I looked into her eyes and saw happy tears, the sweet-smelling kind, starting to swell.
She continued, “I believe I have found my replacement and would need to start training her as soon as possible.”
I said that was great news and asked who she had chosen.
My eyes almost popped like sunflower seeds.
She explained, “You have the sensibility and intelligence to be great. You will just need to learn geography and languages. You will then be able to feel and dream your way around the world.”
I don't know anything about teeth, I admitted.
“I'll teach you.”
But I don't know how to turn them into fairy dust, I insisted.
“I will show you.”
So, for the next several full moons, Dentitia flew by my side. We flew to the tops of forests, to the tops of mountains, to the tops of skyscrapers...and she never stopped talking!
At night, I lied on my petals under the skies, looking up at my lucky stars. Thank you, my heart pounded. I was on my way to becoming the next Tooth Fairy.
I wanted to burst out my news all the way to the sunset.
“But, it is still your choice.” Dentitia held my hand. We were resting on a hanging leaf. The morning sun hung straight above us. “You have mastered your wand and weather patterns but there is still much to learn. If by the end of the next full moon, you decide you would not enjoy being a tooth fairy, you still have time to train for another role.”
For many sunrises, I tried to envision myself doing anything other than being a tooth fairy...
A medicinal fairy? No, back to the allergy problem.
A food fairy? I do like to gather grains. But, no, I like to eat twice as much. My wings would eventually never hold me.
An animal fairy? Not after the time when the farmer's pig sniffed me right into his nose.
Ok, what then? I pulled out a twig, dipped it in a blueberry and wrote down all my strengths. I wanted to see just what I must have been blossomed out to do.
Kind. Patient. Love children. Have good handwriting. Know North from South from East from West. Can speak three languages other than Fairy Secrets (English, Irish, Welsh) and am learning French.
A swift breeze woke me from my thoughts. Teacher Fairy's wind chime clinked and rang the end of the school day.
I flew over the stream, past the cattails and under the willow tree where I found Tooth Fairy. She was polishing last night's teeth. I had thought she turned them all into fairy dust.
“No, dear, only the brightest, purest, with no cavities are good enough for fairy dust. As for the others, I take out their fillings, clean them, shine them and make jewelry, dishes or sculptures.”
Tooth Fairy did have beautiful pearly necklaces and porcelain-white plates and bowls. On her bark coffee table, she had a uniquely-formed sculpture.
Was it the silhouette of a shadow?
“That is my prize-possession. One hundred fifty years ago, during my training, the Tooth Fairy had offered me this work of art. She had sculpted it from the very first tooth she'd found.”
It was lovely but I wasn’t sure what it was.
“It is to remind me of how to be gracious and kind, to value my work and the children for giving me their teeth.”
Children lose their teeth naturally. What else would they do with them?.
“When the first baby tooth falls out, the child begins to grow out of babyhood. The children are actually giving a part of themselves away.”
What an important job and an honor to care for all these teeth! I can do this. I want to do this!
Tooth Fairy smiled, “I knew you would.”
Three moons later, all of my fairy community, my friends and my parents, joined me with the Tooth Fairy under the willow tree.
“My years are long, but my smile is grand. My wings are wrinkled, but my wand shines on. I called you here tonight to present to you … the new Tooth Fairy! May you encourage her and keep her strong.”
Mother Fairy wiped a tear, the sweet-smelling kind, from her cheek and blew it to me. Father Fairy held his pointy chin high and winked at me. After a toast of elder berry juice, Tooth Fairy gave me a package wrapped in a purple rose petal.
“Please, open it when you get home. I am leaving for a journey as soon as the sun shines me on my way. I will miss you.” She blew me a kiss. From the palm of my hand, I placed it on my cheek.
Everyone flew and danced until the rooster opened one eye. Then in a flutter, the meadow was clear. I fluffed my grass-stuffed pillow and sat on my bed. I held the gift in between my folded knees and placed the rose petal on my nightstand. My cheek laid down on the smooth, white sculpture.
My heart beamed, 'Thank you, to all the Tooth Fairies who ever were, for inviting me to be a part of your story.'
The wind blew my reed shutters closed. I fell asleep.

What do you think?
*Think of a job you would like to do. What skills do you already have to do it? What would you still need to learn?
*What are some occasions when family and friends get together? Which are your favorite?
*Have you ever had to work really hard at something, for school or at home? How did you feel when you finally accomplished it?

Part 2

What crazy dreams! I was diving down a slide and I found a tooth at the end of it. I shot to outer space and I found a tooth in the place of the moon. I climbed up an extremely high mountain, but instead of a snow cap, I found an enormous tooth.
Only a few hours of day light were left before heading out on my first night as Tooth Fairy. I had so much to do.
“Dear, have you polished your wand?”
Yes, I assured Mother Fairy.
“Honey, did you want me to stitch up your dust pouch?”
I had already done that, too, I thanked her.
“Sweetheart, shall I press your rose petals?”
I told her I was all set, but thanks for asking.
After stacking up all my fairy guide books, geography and language manuals on my pebble night stand, I went to say goodnight to Mother and Father Fairy. Father was reading the Daily Dewdrop, our local newspaper, at the mushroom table. Mother was packing me a snack.
“I know you would have and could have packed your own seeds. But, I wanted to do it.” She turned to me and held my shoulders. “You are a grown up fairy. I am pleased with what you have chosen to do. Now is the time to use what you have learned.”
I promised I would.
We hugged. I blew my Father a kiss – which just barely missed his newspaper – and I flew off past the willow tree.
Here I go. My finger tips stretch out as if they can touch the clouds.
I head as high as my wings will lift me, take a big look around, point out my directions, then close my eyes. My dreams come back even more clearly and my heart knows just where to fly me.
First house, Drew's. A five year-old who had gone down the slide head first on his tummy today at recess. He banged his chin at the bottom and out popped his tooth.
Oh no, a cat. A CAT.
Up, up, UP. I need to get higher! I’ll just hang out here in the corner until he falls asleep or leaves. Oh, no. I'm in a cobweb! This is really bad news. Relax. Think. Relaxing shrinks my wings. They are slipping from the web. Phew! The cat's claws are tapping back downstairs. All is ok. Now, I just have to slip under the pillow.
Oh, it's beautiful! He must have brushed it before bed. I want to just look at it for a moment. Its curves sit perfectly in the palms of my hands. The tooth would be perfect for fairy dust. But, it's my first find. I'll just put it in my pouch - for now.
After placing a special treasure under his pillow, I slip out through a crack in the window frame. Up. Up. UP. I look around below, close my eyes and listen to my heart.
Next house, Rachel's. She's a seven year-old, whose father is an astronaut. At dinner, she had been telling her father how much she also wanted to fly to the moon. He said that was fine but she still needed to finish her cauliflower. On the next bite, her tooth dropped onto her plate.
This is tricky. Her baby sister sleeps in a crib next to her bed. Her eyes are still open! Now, what do I do? I'll fly alongside the wall out of her sight until I am next to Rachel's pillow.
I'm here. This is a shiny tooth also. It has just the start of a cavity. But, I could file that bit down. I'll just pop it in my pouch, leave her a treasure and fly across and out the bedroom.
I forgot about the baby ! Quick. Quick. Someone's coming. Up, up, UP! I'm spending a lot of time in corners! Ick, doesn't anyone dust up here! Ok. Relaxing is key. My wings slip out.
All right, now. The nanny has left. I am out the window! Up. Up. UP. I look around below, close my eyes and ...drop my bag!
Swoosh, down I go. I have to catch it before the carps jump out of the river and get it first.
With the toe of my shoe, I reach for the strap. Got it. I better just bury this pouch under some rocks where it's safe and come back for it later.
Up. Up. UP. I look around below, close my eyes and listen to my heart.
Next stop, Elisabeth's and Xavier's house. They are eight year-old twins. They were skiing with their mother this afternoon. Elisabeth passed Xavier and crossed in front of him. Xavier did the same maneuver but glided right over Elisabeth's skis. They somersaulted over each other. A tooth from each of them flew right out of their mouths! Their mother looked around, but finding teeth in the snow is not very easy. Plus, more skiers were coming down the slope right at them!
The shutters are locked tight. How am I to get in? Oh, a mouse hole...good. I'll just tip toe in and then out into the kitchen.
“Hey! Who are you?”

What do you think?

*She had to get a lot ready for her first flight as Tooth Fairy. What do you have to get ready before going on a trip or simply to school? What can you get ready by yourself? What do you need help with?
*Have any of your teeth ever fallen out in a funny way? If you haven’t yet lost a tooth, how do you imagine it happening?
*Someone has seen the new tooth fairy. Who could it be?

Part 3

My wings almost shoot off from fright. I see only a shadow of a big tummy from the moonlight. Then, a small flame flickers at the end of a candle stick.
I answer that I’m The Tooth Fairy. Who was he?
Toenails click, clack on the floor. Whiskers brush my cheek.
“I am de Toote Meusse,” he says lifting his nose.
The Tooth Mouse? I had never heard of him.
“Dese are my cheedren. You cahn't ave deir teete.”
His tail almost whips me across the room as he turns away.
I explain that I dreamed about them, that I am supposed to be here.
“Seet down,” he sighs. “Ave a cup of tea. I explain.”
I don't mean to be pushy. It’s my first night.
“You see, e-very boudy sout past dis mountain rhange and west past de next mountains are mine. Dat is how eet's been for years. TF must ave for-gotten to tell you.”
She had.
Mouse turns up one side of his mouth and rolls his eyes.
I wonder who gets the houses all the way to the East.
“I've trhied. Eet's not ea-zy becauze de cheedren dere trow deir teete over de roofs! Once, I almost caught one. Den, I was almost swallowed by de same dog oo ate it. So, I just let dem do it deir way.”
I ask if has been a Tooth Mouse for very long.
“More or less one undred years. My fader and grandfader did it before me.”
They must have taught him a lot. I am so very new at this job.
“Your ears are weeggling. Is dat normal?”
I explain that I’m nervous, especially when I think of all the teeth out there!
“Take one case at a time. Just dink, now you know I am covering all of dis area you dought you had to do.”
What is he going to do about Elisabeth's and Xavier's lost teeth? I ask him.
“I give dem a treasure, as I do with all the cheedren. I give dem a reason to believe I am ere, no matter what.”
He’s right. I excuse myself. I did leave my dust pouch with teeth in it by a brook. I still can't bring myself to actually turn them into fairy dust yet.
“But, you must. It is your duty, as I ave my duty.”
Mouse motions to me to climb up on his back. I am so tired I almost fall asleep in his soft coat. He carries me out to the garden and past the celery stalks. His nose touches the ground. I slide down.
I am at the foot of a tree-bark drawbridge. My tip toes advance. I look back. Mouse is too big to follow me. He blows me forward. The castle is white… like snow, like sugar, like pearls, like teeth!
He builds fairy castles.
“Yes. It is an onor,” Mouse bows.
I smooth out my petal skirt. Then, I blow him a kiss with two hands - it lands right on the edge of a whisker.
I am flying high. Up. Up. UP. I look around below, close my eyes and listen to my heart.

What do you think?
*The Tooth Mouse, or La Petite Souris, is popular in France and in Belgium. Do you know what language the mouse must speak? Do you know where these countries are?
*Do you ever get nervous? If so, when? Do your ears wiggle or your palms sweat or something else?
*The fairy and the mouse are very different but they have the same job. What must they do on their own? What could they do to help each other?

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