We recently had a big moment in our household.
Our six year old, Birdy, lost her first tooth.
I realise that mightn’t sound like a very big moment, but it was special to us.
You see, Birdy has been waiting a very long time to lose that tooth. She’s already six and she’s been waiting since she turned five to lose a tooth. She’s seen all her friends losing their baby teeth – some of them have even lost three or four – and all the while she’s been waiting to lose her very first one.
When it finally did fall out, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
You see, just three days before we had lost our little baby boy, Alexander.
I was fifteen and half weeks pregnant when we discovered that there was no heartbeat. When you lose a baby like that, you don’t just lose them here and now, you also lose your future with them. You lose the hope of looking forward to their birth, of seeing their first smile, of hearing their first words, helping them take their first steps and holding their hand on their first day at school. In that one horrible moment when the ultrasound operator says, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat”, you lose all those first moments.
So when Birdy lost her first tooth, I was excited and happy to see her so excited and happy. But it was also a reminder that even in this sad time of loss, there are so many ‘firsts’ to look forward to with our two girls. One day soon, Molly will take her first steps. Then there will be her first day of pre-school and school, there will be special birthdays, holidays and graduations, maybe one day a wedding and grandchildren.
Instinctively, I wanted to make this ‘first’ occasion special for Birdy. After she went to bed, I stayed up late, writing a colourful letter from the Tooth Fairy. I covered it with sparkles and sprayed it with perfume. When she woke up, she was so excited to find her gold coin and to discover her letter. I have no doubt that writing that letter from the tooth fairy was therapeutic for me. I had fun creating it and I enjoyed the anticipation of seeing her face when she found it, but it also sprang from a desire to make my girls’ childhood as magical, joyful and tender as I can.
Losing her first tooth brought Birdy such simple pleasure. Seeing her happy made me feel happy, even in the midst of such deep sadness. A tooth falling out is really no great achievement – it’s just a natural process, one small part of growing up.
But growing up is something Alexander will never do.
Childhood is so fleeting and every child’s life is so precious. That’s why even losing a tooth is worth celebrating, worth treasuring, worth smiling about.