4 Teeth, The Sun and The Fairy

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My six year old lost 4 teeth in ten days. I now began to wonder if we would have to start feeding her through a straw and seek speech therapy for this newly formed lisp (lack of front teeth).  But, aside from the drama associated from losing those 4 teeth, losing (in various ways and means) 3 of those 4 teeth between her, my crazy wife and I and the mystery of The Tooth Fairy, I felt it was high time to educate my daughter on the age old Egyptian tradition of the sun.

The wife was travelling on this particular time (#3 of 4 teeth) and The Tooth Fairy duty was passed to me with very clear guidelines and instructions on how/when/where/why to conduct the infamous tooth/money switch.  She is the creative half of our relationship.  She creatively passes the baton of her Pinterest ideas for me to execute.  But for me, I do enjoy them actually.  It’s fun seeing the girls laugh at their dad coloring Elsa and Anna with purple and pink (oh the tragedy of wrong colors!).

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So as you can see, the wife has left instructions in case that tooth has come out.  This includes a pre-written note for the tooth fairy to ensure the consistency of handwriting and not to prompt the curiosity of a 6 year olds keen observations of the slightest discrepancy in her mystery (i.e. different writing).

I tuck her in and her big toothless grin full of excitement really makes me laugh and remember when my own teeth came out (and the new fact that she will now have saved 60dhs – equivalent of about $16 dollars for 3 teeth – by tomorrow morning).

I tell her the story of what we did when I was little in Egypt and what Grandma (‘Teeta’) would tell me when my teeth would come out.

The tradition was you would take your tooth and throw it to the sun and say (loosely translated), “Ya Sun Ya Sun, take my old tooth and give me the tooth of a strong fairy”.  Then, we would go to sleep and our tooth would obviously grow in big and strong.  We didn’t have some weird fairy thing that would enter our room while we slept (gives me shivers to even think about that now), reach under our pillow and ‘purchase’ our teeth.  What would she be doing with all of those teeth anyway?  The visions are scary!  And my wife insists on this?  Ugh!  Western people! J

She listens and likes the idea of throwing her tooth to the sun, but now it’s dark so she will have to settle for The Tooth Fairy (besides, she gets money out of this version).

She ventures off into another thought about the long trip to the US last year (15+ hours) and how the sun was in the sky the entire flight until we landed.   She thought it was strange because when she sleeps, the sun should go to sleep too, and it didn’t.

I had to admit it was interesting to be on a 15 hour flight and the sun shining the entire time so we started talking about the sun and she started talking to me about what she learned in school and how the earth moves in circles around the sun.

“But why doesn’t the sun rest like when we are in Dubai and we rest?”

I started really thinking about this.  It’s such a big subject and surely one that should be discussed in daylight.  But I wanted to keep going with her.

“You are right.  The sun doesn’t rest.  It never sleeps.”  I start

“No way! How does it have the energy to keep shining? And what about my brother in the USA?  Does he get the sun at the same time as me and we can see it together?  My teacher told me that when it’s dark in Dubai it’s sun in America.  Is that true?  Does my brother have sun right now?”  Her big brown eyes are big as plates and she holds tight onto her tooth fairy bag under her pillow.

“In an easy way to say it, our earth kinda moves around the sun and the moon moves around the earth.  Its kind of like juggling a bunch of balls in our universe.  The earth also turns slowly.  It takes 1 day to turn so half of the day we see the sun side and the other half we start to see the moon side.  So when it’s dark, we are on the moon side of the 24 hours and your brother is on the sun side.”  As I’m trying to remember all of the science stuff and not botch up what her teacher is trying to tell her as well.

“But then why do we live on a big ball. Earth is a big ball. Is it like a football?  Do you think God plays football with the earth?”   She’s very interested now.  I’m about rolling on the floor and contemplating telling her yes, God plays football with the earth and that’s how we get earthquakes, but I will hold that one out for now.

“And baba, what about the people on the bottom of the ball, why don’t they fall off?”

“Baba, what about the water, how is it staying on the earth?”

I kept remembering all of these same questions I had when I was her age.  I remember having a great teacher who spent so much time with me trying to explain how the universe worked and how he was one of the only teachers that didn’t make me feel stupid – but wanted me to understand a subject that he loved.  I still feel that he is the one that made me want to become a teacher in the first place.

All of these questions put us up to almost 9 p.m. on a school night.  I didn’t mind.  I really enjoyed listening and watching her little mind working.  How she was processing thoughts and thinking about things so simply but in such a big way.

I was proud of her.  I was proud that we could develop and learn together.  I was able to share traditions with her and be a part of a memory that I hope that she will carry forever.

Since then, for her Saturday Book Choice (you’ll learn more about this in the next issue of @Teach_UAE magazine) we picked up a book on the solar system.  She touches on it every few days but I did catch her with it the other night in the middle of the floor telling ‘Magic Bunny’ (her stuffed bunny) about the earth and it’s like a football.

I suppose what I got out of this little evening was the bond between my daughter and I continues to grow.  We touch on her dual heritage, traditions and her rising inquisitiveness.   I don’t want to lose this time.  I want to keep this time alive.  Before you know it, she is going to be locking herself in her room, listening to music, telling me she doesn’t like me and wearing makeup (atleast that’s what these parenting books keep telling me).  So I want to spend as much time as I can creating memories of warmth, love and stories.    I really challenge the rest of you to open up those simple conversations and see where they go.

It doesn’t take The Tooth Fairy or the Sun to create a memory – it takes you, your time and some imagination to open up a child’s mind, create curiosity and satisfy questions they may have.

It also makes for a great way to fall asleep. 🙂

11 February 2016

#Science #Teacher #Sun #Toothfairy #School #Egypt #Tradition #SolarSystem #Earth #Learning #Education #Curiosity #Imagination

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