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01/28/2002

The Magic of a Looth Tooth

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Claudine and I are in parent heaven. Jake lost his first tooth today. He was so excited that he called Claudine at her office. Which must have been a scary thing for her at first. We've gotten calls about Jake from daycare, but never calls from Jake. And to make it worse, she wasn't at work yet. So when she got to work, one of the nurses told her that her son called. Her five year old son. She tried to stay calm and called the school back. When the director answered the phone, she told Claudine that Jake was very excited and anxious to tell her something. She went into Jake's class and brought him back to the phone. Claudine called me at work right afterwards to let me in on it. We talked about what the tooth fairy should bring tonight. We decided to get him one of the Golden Dollars. We both received money for teeth (wow, that sounds funny) so we felt comfortable giving money. But the Sacagawea coin is special looking enough to make it a good tooth fairy gift.

So why is this such a big deal? We don't know and, quite simply, we don't care. But there is a magic there, let there be no doubt. I've seen some beautiful things this evening. I've seen a boy flash me a gap toothed smile as he ran into my arms when I picked him up from school. His beautiful, blue eyes beaming with pride about this milestone. A milestone I'm not sure he fully understands. He knows this means something and I'm glad his school reinforced that by reacting so positively to it. We've always talked to him about becoming a "big boy" as certain life events pass but here was real, tangible proof right there in his hand... and his mouth. Every time he runs his tongue across that gap in his mouth - a gap that to him feels like the Grand Canyon - he knows something is happening to his body and his world.

I've seen a boy holding a paper cup tight with both hands. Every now and then peeking in to make sure his prize is still at the bottom of the cup. A boy rattling off all the names of boys and girls in his class who wanted to take their own peek into the cup and into his mouth. I've seen a boy actually excited to go to bed for once. Jake's transparent gesture to go to bed at exactly 8:30 made me think back and wonder how many smiles my parents had to hide behind their hands as I worked my own clumsy attempts to manipulate them. Once in bed he became restless at the thought of actually sleeping. He made me remember how hard it is to fall asleep when you know you're getting your first visit from the tooth fairy. I saw a boy's face look on with wonder at the preparations for the ethereal visitor. To the adults, it was a simple earring gift box with a ball of cotton at the bottom. To see it reflected back from his face, it took on the air of a ceremony. We placed the tooth in its case and slid the box under his pillow. After we left his room, I wondered how many times his hand reached under the pillow to check "just one more time" to make sure it was still there.

When I went back into his room 10 minutes later, I saw an sleeping angel whose face was illuminated by the silvery light of a full moon. I was happy to have the moon watching over him through his window tonight. I quietly switched the coin for the tooth and gently slid the box back under his pillow. And then I kissed his forehead and whispered good night. I have truly seen some beautiful things tonight.