Back before I had Nugget and began my foray into the world of special needs parenting and blogging about it, I spent my days in the world of bicultural parenting and blogging about that. The cultural misunderstandings between the The Turk and I have provided me with a font of material for ten years, and will likely continue to do so until one of us cashes it in and leaves the other with a life insurance policy worth about 50 Turkish Lyra.
Anywhoo…for a couple reasons, I’ve decided to dig out a post from the old blog and transplant it here. 1. those cultural mishaps are funny as hell and 2. I’m working on a little project and want to use this as a chance for some shameless self (not only self because this is a group project) promotion.
I’m contributing to a book with some other crazy expat broads all over the world entitled Knocked Up Abroad Again – an anthology about shucking pups all over there globe. I’ve, of course, shared my tale of dancing Turks and misplaced intestines during the birth of Number 1 alongside birth stories from all over. It’s gonna be awesome…if it meets it’s kickstarter goal in the next 10 days. So, if you’d like a copy or you’d like to fund an awesome effort – go here and fund us. Now, on to our show:
Did you know, there is no Tooth Fairy in Turkey? No? Me either.
It was totally logical for me to believe that there would be a Turkish Tooth Fairy. There is a Turkish Red Ridinghood but she goes by Kırmızı Başlıklı Kız. Bert and Ernie have been fluent in Turkish since the early 70’s and even that sniveling Caliou found a massive fan base with tiny Turks. They even have Santa, though he is called Baba Noel and instead of a big gut and white beard he’s thin with a ‘stache and instead of milk and cookies he prefers tea and a smoke and instead of coming on December 25 th he doesn’t make an appearance until December 31st, but other than that… But hey, cut ’em some slack, it’s tough to have a solid Christmas understanding in a Muslim nation. But I digress.
With this knowledge of childhood icons it was reasonable for me to assume that there was also a fairy that snuck into the sleeping quarters of young Turks and replaced their recently liberated baby teeth with a Lira or two. But no. This ugly truth was revealed last week when the Midget finally lost his first tooth.
For a 5 year old, that is pretty much the pinnacle of fitting in with one’s peers and we all know kindergartners can be pretty intimidating as far as peer pressure goes. The Midget was the last of his friends to go toothless but now he was part of the in-crowd. As that little tiny white stump freed itself at breakfast, there was much celebration.
I should have been tipped off to the impending cultural divide by the strange look I received from the Turk when I rushed to bag the tooth like evidence on CSI. However, I get that look often so I paid it no mind.
As the day progressed and the Midget was filled with information from his merry band of munchkins on the playground, he was ready for the big payoff. From dinner through bath he could discuss nothing else and as he carefully tucked the tooth under his pillow, the Turk finally said, “What the hell are you doing? Throw that thing in garbage. It is disgusting.”
With big blue eyes the Midget said, “But Baba, the Tooth Fairy will take it.”
And then, there it was – the bomb was lowered– “What is Tooth Fairy? There are no fairies. Fairies are not real. Why you pretending this? Only the girls like the fairies.”
Once again, I had to swoop in and wipe away the pain of truth those Turks love to lay down all too often. His are a people that find joy in bursting bubbles with cold, hard reality. I know. I lived with them and came home with years’ worth of busted bubbles.
After shooting Baba the look, (ya’ll know the look to which I refer) and quickly dismissing Baba’s proclamations by explaining that boys can like fairies too and that fairies do not like bad kids and Baba was a bad kid so therefore the Tooth Fairy never made a visit to him – it hit me and I rushed The Turk into the closet for a confab.
“Is there no Tooth Fairy in Turkey?”
“No. What the hell is Tooth Fairy?”
“You leave your tooth under the pillow and in the morning the Tooth Fairy has taken it and left you a few bucks. You know, it’s like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”
“No. That is stupid.”
“What did your parents do when you lost a tooth?”
“Throw it in trash, like you should do.”
“No. That’s not happening. This child is in America now and we are doing this like my people.”
“Ok, well maybe Fairy can bring me something a little later too?”
After the Midget had tucked the tooth and nodded off, there was much debate over the price per tooth and the absurdity of the tradition but I won and the Midget awoke to a reasonable payoff. But there was much shrapnel to clean up thanks to Baba blowing the Fairy’s cover and as we got ready for school,
“Mom, is it a he or a she?”
“He” It just seemed more festive to make the Tooth Fairy a drag queen.
“How does he know I lost a tooth?”
“I call the hotline.”
“What’s the number?”
“How does he get in?”
“Does he keep the teeth?”
“Did he dig Baba’s teeth out of the trash when he was little?”
“No. He was a really bad kid.” (Take that fun sucker!)
“Do I get more money for bigger teeth?”
“Well that’s a rip off.”
Mom’s gotta keep it real. First I saved Santa before we moved to the US, then the Tooth Fairy. Easter Bunny, you are totally on your own though, I’ve always found a giant rabbit a little too creepy.
If you want more expat tales – go fund us! Knocked Up Abroad Again