Primary Language- Spanish
Occupation- Factory Worker
Residence- Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance- 3/19/16
One day, when i was 6 years old and my first tooth started to wiggle. I told my mom and she said that i have to keep shaking it each day so it can fall off smoothly. And that once it came off nicely, I should put it under my pillow and “the raton” would come and get it and once it was gone, he would leave me some coins as a thank you. The first day I did, when I woke up i found 4 coins under my pillow and kept doing it until i was 13. Every time I would put it in my pillow i would get money and wondered how a rat was able to do that. I believed it had to be a magical rat. After i turned 13, I realized that it was my mom the whole time because I saw her putting money under my sister’s pillow when she was sleeping. My sister had just took out one of her tooths and put it under her pillow. Even though I figured that out, I still never told my sister because I thought she would enjoy the fact that the magical rat still comes to give her money, especially since she was 6. I told my mother about it and she was surprised when I told her i know but knew it would happen eventually. She also told me not to tell my sister and I agreed with her because I too still wanted my sister to believe in it.
Reina Centeno is from Honduras. She has lived there till she was about 20 and then moved to the United States. Her mother was the one who told her about the raton and made her believe in it. She loved believing in the raton because removing her teeth was one of the worst things she had to go through but knowing that she was going to get money and a visit from a magical creature made it worth it and try to remove her tooth as fast as possible. Having better teeth was a plus as well. She learned this fairy tale from her mother who learned it from her mother. It has been passed down two generations and she also told her son about it.
When Reina told me the story, she said it with a big grin on her face because it reminded her of the good times she had as a child and her time in Honduras. She has not been there in over 30 years yet still remembers everything perfectly. She tells the story with happiness and laughs at how gullible she was as a child. Along with the fact that she got her own son into believing it.
Hearing Reina tell me her story was delightful because my mother also told me the same tale when I was a child. Reina Centeno and my mother are sisters and maybe it was because of her not telling my mother that the raton was fake at an early age was the reason my mother passed it on to me. It is such a great tale since it really does make going through the teeth removal process worth it. In Honduras, many can not afford to go to a dentist so they have to tough it out and remove the teeth themselves. El raton is basically the same thing as a tooth fairy that is very popular in America considering there are a multitude of movies, books, and stories about it. Fairies are not very popular in countries like Honduras so they had to make another version which so happened to involve a rat. Obviously not as popular as a fairy which is why there are not any famous films abou it. But in spanish culture, he is very popular as “El Ratoncito Perez” or “El Ratoncito”. El raton had originated from Madrid in the 19th century and is still spread to this day. People who immigrate to the United States have only helped spread the folklore. It is amazing how a few stories can shape the way a culture thinks about certain aspects of life.