The Crappy Tooth Fairy

From the moment they are born our obsession with our kids’ teeth begins. All unexplained, irritable and erratic behaviour in babies is attributed to teething. When their first tooth appears we mourn the loss of their gorgeous gummy smiles and celebrate the arrival of an important developmental milestone. Equally when they lose their first milk teeth we make a huge song and dance about it by creating this dramatic, mythical creature known as the Tooth Fairy. And what a pain in the ass she is.


Initially it seems like a good idea to propagate the Tooth Fairy myth. After all, it is a cause for celebration when your child finally gets rid of the wobbly, protruding tooth that has been hanging by a thread at an awkward/ugly angle for weeks. So you consult your friends, work out what the going rate is for a tooth and tell your child that the Tooth Fairy will leave something special for them. Great. Job done. Not quite.

There are many problems that can arise. Firstly there is the pressure to continue forking out money for every single milk tooth that falls out. After the first six teeth, the novelty soon wears off but your child will still expect to be paid.  Having an emergency stash of coins at home is absolutely critical as your kid won’t take it well if you don’t cough up. Trust me, it can get dramatic. Don’t get caught out.

What’s the going rate for a tooth?

Secondly your kid will try and pull a fast one. They will tell you that inflation has kicked in and that Melanie T, Sarah B and Keira A at school all get £10 per tooth. You won’t believe them, but will feel the need to check with their parents who will promptly tell you they too only dish out £1 or £2 per tooth. Never believe your child when they start talking in monetary terms. They lie.

Then there’s the guilt of being a crap Tooth Fairy. By the time you have sorted out the kids’ school bags/uniforms, washed and tidied up, finished watching late night TV, checked Facebook and eaten dinner, the Tooth Fairy is nowhere to be seen. You collapse into bed forgetting all fairy-related duties only to be rudely awoken at 6am the next morning when your kid runs in sobbing that the Tooth Fairy didn’t turn up. Crap! It happens to the best of us. We all forget to make our magical deposits now and then and have to come up with some lame excuse about the Tooth Fairy getting stuck in traffic or having a busy night and reassure them that she will definitely turn up that night. Big sigh. Who would have thought that a no-show by the Tooth Fairy could cause so much angst for a little person?

Even worse is when you have no choice but to raid your child’s Tooth Fairy stash for parking money. You’re in a rush, you need some coins and the only quick way to get some is to dip into their money box. It’s terrible, it’s unethical, it would send your child into meltdown if they knew, but sometimes it’s the only way. Just remember to put the money back promptly and they will be none the wiser.

All this hassle for the arrival of wonky teeth. All this drama and expense for crooked, oversized, gappy adult teeth?! I miss my girl’s perfectly formed baby teeth and feel like telling the Tooth Fairy to “Do one” when I see what they have been replaced with. In due course the new teeth will straighten out (I hope!) but for now I’m in no mood to entertain the wretched Tooth Fairy.  Unfortunately for me, my kid would be too traumatised if the Tooth Fairy was to suddenly stop coming. So I’m on the slippery slope and will just have to keep going until we run out of teeth or my kid outgrows her. Damn you Tooth Fairy. If only I’d known.

Ramadan with Young Kids –the Unofficial Guide

It’s Ramadan, and like many other Muslims around the world, I’m trying my best not to totally flip out whilst fasting for nineteen hours a day and tending to my angelic/monster kids. It’s meant to be a month of spiritual and physical cleansing, a time when you strive to be a better person. But having young kids means I’m normally on course to having some kind of meltdown by 5pm. Trust me, being sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty and all round exhausted is not going to win me mother of the year any time soon, and any mum that tells me she is the epitome of patience and spiritual virtue during Ramadan can do one.

Being “hangry” (hungry and angry) during Ramadan is not ideal. It obviously defeats the purpose of Ramadan if I spend half my day being snappy with my kids (and the Old Git – although he often deserves it, to be fair) and verging on the cusp of hysteria. Whereas I’d normally give the kids multiple chances to comply with my requests/instructions, these days I’m flipping out after request number one. Big sigh. So, in an effort to save my soul and my sanity, I’ve been trying different things to stop me from descending into total crazy mum mode.

Firstly, I stay as far away as possible for as long as possible from my kids. It really helps. I disappear into the bedroom, utility room or toilet and spend as much of my time as possible in there contemplating life, making lists, doing what I normally do.  Of course I emerge at intervals to feed the kids, wash them, help them with their homework etc, but overall I find that staying out of their way reduces the chances of an epic meltdown.

Secondly, I let the kids use electronic devices. During Ramadan anything goes. All my rules about limited screen time go out of the window and my kids turn into screen zombies. TV, iPad, phone, computer – all are fair game during this holy month. In order for me to attain peace of mind, the kids must attain the iPad. End of.

Thirdly, I have to nap. I’m like a baby and have to sleep between the hours of 12-2pm in order to feel refreshed and recharged for the day. Even if I have the kids at home with me I still manage to do it albeit with a lot of background noise. The kids basically run riot in the house and I’m ok with that, as long as I get my two hours kip.

Fourthly, I stock up in the freezer. Not only is it full of samosas, kebabs, pasties and spring rolls, it’s also full of fish fingers, nuggets, pizzas and chips. Admittedly it’s not made with my own fair hands, but keeping things low maintenance during Ramadan makes things so much easier for me, plus the kids love it. You won’t find me slaving over a hot stove during Ramadan unless absolutely necessary. I also have my prized secret stash of chocolate which gives me focus and something to look forward to during the long days of fasting. Nobody is allowed to touch that…ever.

My chocolate stash

And finally, bribery works. I’ve bought this brilliant chocolate Ramadan calendar which the kids salivate over. In the event of bad behaviour, the threat of forfeiting their chocolate treat immediately rectifies the said bad behaviour and there is peace, calm and harmony in the house again.

Ramadan calendar

Of course this advice is not from any great spiritual authority. It’s not the path to religious enlightenment. No. But if, like me, you struggle with feelings of “hanger” during Ramadan these tips could help save you from yourself. There’s no shame in admitting it’s hard to fast when you have young kids. It’s totally different to fasting pre-kids when you have the space to reflect, read and contemplate.  At least if we are honest and non-judgemental about the challenges we face, we can find solace in sharing our experiences and find ways of helping purge these ghastly, guilt-inducing feelings of “hanger.”

What do we tell our Kids about Terrorism?

How do I tell my children that there are terrorists on our streets? How can I shatter the beauty and innocence of their youth? Across the world millions of children are faced with war, disaster and tragedy every day, and now here in the UK, after three terrorist attacks in as many months, we are faced with the sad reality of terrorism on our doorstep. I’m not suggesting our lives are in any way comparable to the terrible suffering endured by others elsewhere in the world, but the political climate of the UK is changing. There are increased risks and consequently increased tensions. As much as we’d all like to shield our children from these frightening developments, at what point should we discuss these matters with them and in what way?

Some children are, in my view, too young to have such discussions. Ludoo is only four and would not understand any of it. But my daughter is seven years old and has the capacity to understand and the possibility of exposure to information about it.  I am torn between raising it with her and risk causing anxiety and fear, and leaving her to enjoy her childish vision of the world. As of yet, she is blissfully unaware of the terrorist attacks and I feel almost cruel to burden her mind with it.  But she has older cousins and school friends who are more worldly than her. The chances are she will, at some point, hear about the terrorist attacks, and I know it’s better coming from me than from anybody else.


Whatever we tell our children about these attacks it has to be age appropriate. With an older child approaching their teens it may well be possible to discuss issues surrounding the attacks such as  politics,  religion and extremism but with younger school children this would be confusing and overwhelming. The key, I think, is to explain in very basic terms that there are some bad people who sometimes want to hurt others, but that this is very unusual and that most people are good. For me, the priority has to be to reassure my child that she is safe whilst acknowledging that it is very sad that these things happen. Providing too much detail about the attacks would be frightening but it’s important to give just enough information to equip our kids should it come up in conversation. The objective is to inform and reassure, not to create fear and anxiety.

One way to reassure young children might be to focus on how effective the emergency services are at dealing with the “baddies” and to highlight examples of bravery. Kids love talking about the police and heroes. It makes them feel safe and protected. Another way might be to share positive news stories to illustrate there is more good than bad.

It’s also really important to allow our kids to ask questions and answer them calmly and positively. We can set the tone and framework for the conversation so that it is not scary or hysterical. We can make them feel safe and emphasise how rare these incidents really are.

For me, there is the added complexity that we are from a Muslim background and I worry my child may hear comments about the identity of the terrorists which cause her to feel confused about her own faith background. At some point, I will probably have to take the conversation about these attacks one step further and explain in very basic terms that these terrorists are bad people with crazy ideas and that no religion says it is okay to hurt other people. I don’t think my seven year old is ready to discuss Isis or radicalisation, but I hope by highlighting the importance of kindness and peace in religion, she will understand that these terrorists are of a completely different ilk.

None of this is an easy conversation to have with your child and I’m still assessing when to do it myself. But I know deep down, knowledge is necessary and empowering for our kids as it helps relieve anxiety. Kids can have very vivid imaginations so it’s better to take control of the conversation than leave it to playground whispers.