dentists, worry, and rodents of unusual size

Moomin doesn’t have any cavities! I can rest easy!

If he had even a tiny cavity, I was going to feel low, low, low.

In fact I made up my mind that if a Moomin tooth needed drilling, it was proof to the whole world that I suck as a mother. Even though obviously kids get cavities sometimes. But when they do, the dentists and nurses *look* at you and make their voices all special, and ask you about Juice.

Not to mention Moomin telling me the other day, “Well, ice cream and candy are bad, because, they make you have cavities.” How about some logic, school? I explained that he could eat all the ice cream and candy he wanted as long as he brushed his teeth afterwards.

Anyway, all was well.

He did not bite the dentist at the Posh Office With TV in Ceiling That Our Insurance Does Not Fully Cover. I read a book about Tooth Customs Around the World, and learned something new. You know how my dad always told me (because I hated the grody, frilly, twee tooth fairy) about the Great Pack Rat? No?

Pack rats like to collect things, especially shiny things. The Great Pack Rat goes around the world with his big backpack and wizardy-looking staff, kindly but bushy-whiskered, a bit like Gandalf. He takes the shiny things you leave under your pillow when you lose a tooth, and leaves you money in a shiny-thing trade!

I never left the tooth – always a screw or a bolt or a washer. Because in theory, my teeth would one day make a nifty human tooth necklace.

So, I thought my dad made up the Rat to be weird and wacky. But lo! in the Teeth Around the World book, almost all of South and Central America had rats or mice take your teeth and leave you money. Maybe it was something he learned in childhood! He doesn’t even remember telling me about the Great Pack Rat, but I remember really appreciating the break from ridiculous pink kid things. A giant rat was way cooler than a simpering chick in a tutu.

Do rats really hoard shiny things? Wasn’t there a rat with a hoard of coins in the Pancatantra – a story from over 2000 years ago? Surely something’s up with rats and shininess. Crows and ravens too, and maybe parrots. Why?

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