Mamá, mamá I have a loose tooth! I was very excited to see how our son is growing up! But, wait a minute… he just turned five, and aren’t children supposed to start losing their teeth at 6? Well I knew this was the time to introduce another of our Latin culture traditions, the story of the Ratón Pérez.
Who is that mouse? Ian asked me… he is the one who brings presents or money to children after they place their fallen teeth under their pillow. The mouse comes at night while children are sleeping so they never see him. I placed all my teeth under my pillow and received one present for each loose tooth.
Ian was anxiously waiting the day when he would lose his tooth. He lost it at school and was not able to recover it, hysteria hit! Thankfully Ms. García told him the tooth fairy took it away so not to worry. There we had it, both traditions had mixed beautifully.
We took a picture of his mueco or hole, and put it under the pillow for the Ratón Pérez that night. The little Mouse Perez came and left him a dollar.
My son did not ask why we have 2 teeth collectors, but I wonder how I would have explained that knowing he had lost only one tooth… Who had the right to claim it? That is the beauty of a bicultural or multicultural family, reconciling and mixing traditions the best we can to give the best of both worlds to our families.
Origins of This Famous Mouse
Father Luis Coloma, a Jesuit, wrote the book about Ratoncito Pérez to tell the story of boy King Buby I, who put his fallen tooth under his pillow. The mouse woke him up when he gently brushed his fur against the boy’s nose. This ratoncito looked like a knight and was wearing golden rimmed glasses, a red coat and a sword.
Perez transforms the boy into a mouse to take him outside the kingdom with the purpose of showing him the poverty in which many of its people lived. This tale may have left a mark on the young king who was known to be kind to his people at the time he governed.
The first published book about this character appeared in 1902 and it was dedicated to Alfonso the XIII in Spain, who became king when he turned 16.