One day last week, in a frenzy of pre-vacation packing and a rare fit of organizing, I found the first tooth my 8 year old lost. It was in a small box tucked away in a drawer in my bedroom, next to scarves and headbands and necklaces I never wear but can't bear to part with.
It was a tiny little tooth, pebble-sized. I wasn't even sure what it was at first- I think I'd intended, when he lost it, to put it in some special place, with a picture of the sweet boy and the new gap in his mouth. But the truth is, when he lost that tooth it wasn't a happy day.
The tooth had been loosening up for days and we knew it would be the first to go. At a dentist appointment just weeks before, our dentist had a talk with him about what to expect. She explained that the baby teeth come out in order to make room for our adult teeth.
What she hadn't mentioned was that there would be blood. Lots. And that the blood would run down his face and onto his shirt collar. That he would throw that just-lost tooth on the ground and run upstairs, crying. A door would slam behind him. There would be tears and hiding in a closet. No amount of motherly pleading and reassurance would lure him out.
Was he scared? Embarrassed? I wasn't sure. Why wasn't this in any of the parenting books?
And after a while, the boy with the new gap in his mouth would reappear, curios about that tooth.
Can I see it Mom? he'd say.
From my bedroom last week, I called to him. Two years later.
Look what I found! It's the first tooth you lost!
And again, he gave me a reaction that I was totally unprepared for.
But Mom, you said that the Tooth Fairy took it. I could see the disappointment in his posture, in his eyes.
At that moment, I could have told him that the Tooth Fairy leaves the first tooth for the parents to keep, or some other such fib to protect his innocence.
But instead, I decided to just hug him tight, hold the tooth in my palm, and take in the moment, both of us knowing that he's growing up so fast.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned blogger. She's pursuing a career as a freelance writer, and her work has been published in Sleet Magazine and featured on many popular websites. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, focuses on the small reflections - MOMents - in each day that make life beautiful. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!