Let the tooth be told.
There are few things which can stop a mother dead in their tracks.
Silence is usually one of them. If Esme has been quiet for more than twenty minutes, I’ve learned to not even bother to verbally inquire regarding her welfare but to get off my ass and actually go and investigate. Last time I did, I got there just in time before she dumped a jar of coconut oil on her dollies head because she claimed it ‘looked a little dry’.
But today, something made me set aside my laptop at lightning speed.
‘Mum! Mum! I found a tooth!’ She exclaimed, her bottom hitting each step with force as she came sliding down the stairs.
‘You found a what?’ I asked, almost sure she was confused.
Sure enough, nestled in her tiny palm, there sat a discarded tooth.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Oh, that must be your sisters.’ I reassured her remembering that the last time my stepdaughter was round, much to my alarm, she had pulled out her own rocky tooth as it was an annoyance.
‘Oh, the tooth fairy must have forgotten to collect it.’ Esme deduced.
It was time to play along.
‘Exactly, but just to be sure the tooth fairy didn’t take one of yours instead, let me check all yours are still there.’ I laughed whilst prying her mouth open.
All of her teeth were there. Plus one.
Startled, I moved her towards the window, sure that the lack of daylight combined with my award-winning astigmatism was playing tricks on me. Nope, as clear as day, nestled behind what I came to find was a rocky bottom left tooth, was the tip of its adult replacement.
All of a sudden the weight of my pregnant belly there me off balance and I had to reach out to the windowsill to stop myself from toppling over.
‘What is it, mummy?’ she asked scanning my expression
Get it together Candice, I hastily thought.
‘Oh, nothing baby. Mummy has just noticed that you have an adult tooth coming through!’ I said with a forced smile
‘I do?’ She grinned with joy
And before I could answer she was bounding back up the stairs to no doubt ogle at it in the bathroom mirror.
Unlike her baby tooth, I was rooted to the spot.
What the actual fuck? My child, no, my baby, is four years old. Four.
My memory combined with photographic evidence made it clear that I didn’t begin to lose teeth until I was close to seven. If I had known that such a stride towards adult development would’ve happened so early, I would have sought therapy.
I felt livid, sad and proud all at the same time.
I knew this was going to be a monumental year for us all. You know, I turn 30, a new baby, Esme starting school but the teeth?! Jesus, not the teeth! Is nothing sacred?
I quickly cleared my to-do list for the day.
It was officially our day.
We would do all those motherly activities I despised.
I would take her to Costa and spend a tenner on a babycino.
Above all else, i would let her get free run of the sweetie draw. I mean she might as well wear her baby teeth into the ground since they were going to betray her by leaving the party so early.
I’m always in a hurry. Constantly consumed by the mere scent of the next thing, I must admit that whilst I look at Esme every day, it’s not often that I see her.
I mean how on earth did I miss such a thing?
Admittedly, she does brush her own teeth. Armed with an electric toothbrush and two minutes on the clock she was astoundingly capable. But what sort of Mother missed this?
I did. And it sucked.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I called Papa B chastising myself. Of course, he entertained me to a point before letting me know that I was growing another human and working really hard, so it was easy to be overlooked. And then he hit me with the KO, ‘Babe, it’s the circle of life’
And there it was, the truth in all its toothless glory. I had to get comfortable with the idea that although she would always be my baby, she was no longer a baby. And perhaps it’s because she is my first, that truth is a very bitter pill to swallow.
It was time for me to learn from her. She’s telling any stranger who will listen to her about her adult tooth. And even offering to help load the dishwasher because she is an adult now. Although tiny pieces of my heart fall off every time she says this, I’m trying to appreciate what seems to be her overnight maturity. Soon there will be a real baby here. One that will not leave me in the dark when new teeth are on the horizon. Their announcement will be loud and peppered with fever. And in-between the broken sleep and Calpol administration, I hope I’m able to remember that although the days feel like a horse-drawn cart, the years whizz by like a space shuttle and before you know it the baby which was the center of your universe, is busy creating their own.