Friday, November 16, 2012
First, Last and Somewhere in Between
My youngest lad, who will be 13 in a few months, is obviously a late bloomer. He approached me the other morning, the day after my 41st birthday, with a gap in his mouth and his tooth in his hand. Eye-to-eye and just taller than me, he smiled a toothless smile as he announced his last tooth with a sense of resignation to this chapter of his life. “Well,” he said with a forlorn sigh, “this is the last time I’ll lose a tooth.” A smirk followed a conversation about the Tooth Fairy arriving one last time. The fact that this poignant moment was the day after my 41st birthday was not lost on me. I still have to process and make sense of that.
But birthdays aside, I held the tooth, inspected it for perfection, and handed it back. And tried not to cry.
So the Tooth Fairy arrived the following night, alighting in his room sad and reminiscent. “This will be the last time I ever visit here...” she thought with fond sentimentality, and left a note thanking him for the last tooth.
The next morning, keen with his money, he asked me if I wanted to save the note – for a keepsake. What preteen thinks of his mother’s sentimentality? AND, some might say, what preteen STILL has the Tooth Fairy visit? You’re only young once, I would respond to those negative nellies.
Of course I saved the note.
And that was that. The end.
The final page in the chapter turned. Until it’s time for his wisdom teeth, that is.
I never thought of the eventual ‘last tooth’ day. My oldest has his first job, his first car and is about to graduate – oh and is way taller than me. He is experiencing many firsts, while my youngest is experiencing his ‘lasts.’ His lasts are poignant because they affect the whole family. The last kid of the family to ‘fill in the blank.’ The oldest’s ‘lasts’ weren’t less important – if anything, his ‘firsts’ overshadow them all.
Are you following me so far?
Our house is a changin,’ and all I can do is stand by and watch. I am powerless to the change, so I have to roll with it. They will always be my babies, but I mourn the loss of the babies I once knew. I focus on what I have now – what I can experience with them now.
As things like the real identity of the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy are realized, I work to hold on to the fantasy of it all, even if I am met with knowing smirks and glances. But I know that at least for a while they will play along with me and enjoy childhood fantasies and remember and experience past and present firsts and lasts while they exist somewhere in between childhood and adulthood. Just like me.
As for the Tooth Fairy never visiting again? Well, there are wisdom teeth to eventually come out, likely when they are in their late teens. I am sure they wouldn’t mind a visit from her; everyone appreciates a little pocket money, now and then. At least I can say I have at least one last Tooth Fairy visit to look forward to, and can still live like a kid through them, no matter what age we all are.