Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On Losing Teeth and Turning Six


“Mommy!” my daughter called up to me from downstairs a few nights ago. “Look!” 

I walked down to find her wiggling one of her bottom front teeth. It was loose. And judging from how far back and forth she was able to push it, it was looooose.

“Mommy, my tooth is going to come out soon!” she cried. “Maybe I’ll lose it on my birthday!”

That birthday—her 6th—is today. The tooth is still here, but living on borrowed time. Thank god, because I'm not ready. Because, perhaps even more than a larger clothes size or a pencil flick on the wall marking her height, losing that tooth means she is growing up. It’s why she was brimming with excitement. And why I was about to break down in tears.

I was already having a hard time coming to terms with that fact that she was about to be six, but the tooth thing just pushed me over the edge. 

Six. Six. I know full well that I’ll be the billionth parent to write this, but how? How did that happen? They say it happens so fast, but it happens even faster than they say. It happens so. fast.

I mean, I remember when she had no teeth! And I remember my Facebook status update announcing her first one for, god’s sakes. (For the record, that status was: “Houston, we have a tooth.” I never said it was brilliant.) But wasn’t that, like, last year? How is she already old enough to have a full set of teeth, much less old enough to be shedding them?

And now it's her sixth birthday? How? I clearly remember her first birthday party. Hell, the dress I wore to it is still hanging in my closet.

That evening, I laid down next to her in bed and we did our nightly ritual: I told her a quick story and then sang her our own version of "Hush Little Baby." Usually, after that, I either kiss her good night and go downstairs, or we lay silently for a few minutes while she falls asleep. But this time I spoke up.

“I have to tell you, honey,” I began, my voice breaking. “I’ve been thinking about you losing that tooth all day and I’ve been really sad." I started to cry at that point, and then continued: "Because it means you’re growing up.”

“But it’s not like I’m going to college!” she said.

“But you’re basically going to be going to college soon!” I protested, only half joking.

“Oh mom,” she said sounding 16. “No, I’m not. But when I do, I’m going to put 1,000 pictures of you on my walls in my room and hearts, too.”

I snuggled her until she fell asleep and then headed downstairs. I went on Amazon and ordered a tooth fairy pillow and said a little prayer that the tooth would stay attached to her mouth through the two-day shipping window. (It did.) 

Next, I went on a parenting Facebook group to try to figure out what the going rate is for teeth these days. (For the record, the average seems to be $1 a tooth with some crazy people doing $10 to $20 a tooth. Giving gold $1 coins in lieu of bills also seems to be popular with people who are way more forward thinking than me.)

And now, I'm writing this on the eve of her birthday. When she wakes up in the morning, she'll be six. And I'll be the mother of a six year old.

In a few days, she'll lose that tooth, and she'll put it into the tooth fairy pillow before she goes to sleep. That night, I’ll slip into her room, quietly taking the tooth, and leaving a dollar (bill, not coin) in its place.

Then, I’ll take that tooth and tuck it the memory box where I keep the many pieces of emphemera that would mean nothing to most people, but mean everything to me. There’s her hospital bracelet, impossibly small; the lock of hair fished from the remnants of her first haircut; the pink and blue striped cap that was the first thing she wore. 

The tooth will be tucked away with those precious things that remind me that, where I now have a little girl, I once had a baby. A baby who was once only six hours old. Then, I blinked and she was six days old. Then, six weeks. Then, six months. 

And now it's been six years.

I don't know how it happened. But I'm glad we're here. 

Happy birthday, sweetheart.








7 comments:

Nicci said...

Time flies! My kids haven't lost any teeth yet, but everyday they do something impressive that makes them seem sooo old. Happy Birthday to your sweetie.

Tarynn Playle said...

Happy Birthday Little Lady!! My daughter is almost 5, and I'm not ready for it!! I'm almost certain I will cry when she loses her first tooth too.

Shann said...

Awe. I totally understand what you're feeling. My oldest turned six this year and started kindergarten. Every day that he gets on that school bus, I still can't believe it. I look at his chubby little baby pictures and wonder who this skinny little boy is. He hasn't lost any teeth yet, but I'm sure it will send me over the edge. Ps. Happy Birthday to your sweet daughter!

CourtneyLynne said...

Awwwww happy birthday to your princess :):) they grow up so fast!

TheJerseyMomma said...

Soooo beautiful! Happy Birthday to your little angel! I can so relate to this- my guy is 7 and he just lost his front tooth yesterday morning. He looks so different, and time is flying by. Facebook keeps posting those memories of past updates and I see his little baby face smiling back at me- it seems like yesterday. Ok I'd better stop before I start crying! lol

Lauren said...

Happy birthday to your little girl! This was such a beautiful, sweet post! It made me shed a few tears. I have a son turning one in a few short weeks and I'm not ready!

Jennifer Corter said...

I'm like you. My son turns six this year too. I'm like WHAT. NO. Where did my baby go?!

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