Our 5 1/2 year old son, Bug, has been wiggling his lower front tooth for the past couple of weeks. For most of that time he's been very cautious about it. Some caution is totally understandable, especially for a kid like Bug who likes to be sure he knows how to do something All The Way before he gives it a try. The new "grown-up tooth" behind it has been slowly growing in, ready to take over whenever the wiggly tooth was ready to fall out. We would joke while brushing his teeth at night that he was just going to grow several complete rows of teeth, like a shark, never actually losing any.
Then, yesterday morning, he was sitting with us in our bedroom while we got started for the day. He'd wiggled it this way and that, even telling us that he could hear it making funny noises and he had a feeling that it would come out that day. Suddenly he said "Look!" and held his hand out to us, showing us a tiny white tooth that had finally come out. The big day has finally happened - our little Bug has lost his first tooth.
We got it ready to present to the Tooth Fairy, setting it in a special little box with felt lining. Bug was excited to think about what she might bring him in exchange for his precious tooth. In true Bug fashion he confessed to me that he had realized the tooth was ready to come out, and he waited a few moments until he was sure the timing was right. "I wanted to make sure you and Daddy were both ready," he said.
I kept sneaking back in there to take a little look at his sweet tooth. It was so perfectly formed and so very tiny. The new one growing in is already so much bigger and wider. That wee baby tooth that we held in our hands yesterday has been on such a journey with our Bug. He started showing symptoms of teething at only 2 months of age, and our pediatrician confirmed that his gums were quite red where the little tooth below the surface was starting to stir. He was a slow teether - the first tooth finally broke the surface when he was about 5 months old, after several painful bouts of teething. Its little partner was not too far behind, breaking through the gums within a couple of weeks. The comments about how I'd be quitting breastfeeding soon were not far behind. The little tooth did scrape me occasionally, and once or twice there were unfortunate chomping incidents, but he was always a considerate nursling so those incidents were rare. We diligently flossed between those two little teeth and brushed them every evening, and added additional teeth to the daily care routine as they grew in over the next year.
For the past year or so he has been curious about this amazing idea of losing ones teeth and growing new ones. For a while he was sure that once he started getting his grown-up teeth he'd suddenly transform into a grown-up. He's not the first in his kindergarten class to lose a tooth, so he's seen kids come in with their jack-o-lantern smiles with stories of what the Tooth Fairy left under their pillows. The day he finally got to prepare his own tooth for the Tooth Fairy, he kept saying "I'm so excited! I can't wait to see what she brings!" His joy and excitement and pride were quite contagious. Tomorrow morning he gets to share his exciting news with the rest of his class, and he was beaming as he rehearsed his announcement for "Morning News."
As I expected, the other bottom front tooth is ever so slightly wiggly, following on the heels of its partner tooth. I don't think he'll be able to leave it alone for long now that he's experienced the thrill of losing a tooth, growing a brand new one, and a visit from the Tooth Fairy.
When I look at that tiny tooth out of his mouth it's like the past five years flash before my eyes in a blur. Sometimes the days barely seem to crawl by, especially if we're dealing with things like illness or teething pain or cranky toddlers who won't nap, but then I see something like this itty-bitty tooth and I realize how quickly those days are flying by in the grand scheme of things.