MUM & ME
Jane and Bryony mourn the loss of Edie’s first tooth
Bryony Gordon 38 Married to a very patient husband Harry, and mother to Edie, five
It happens in the middle of the night. One moment I am sleeping soundly, the next Edie is jumping on me, screaming for me to wake up. ‘What? WHAT? IS EVERYTHING OK?’ My heart is pounding and adrenalin pumps through me. Harry remains steadfastly asleep (how do they do this?). My eyes adjust to the darkness, and I see Edie beaming a gummy smile at me. ‘My tooth fell out!’ she squeals in delight, thrusting a small piece of enamel into my hands. I feel fit to burst with… I don’t know what. Pride? Emotion? Tiredness? (It is 3.30am.)
Later that morning, I tell Edie to show Harry her mouth. But she is suddenly overcome with embarrassment. ‘If somebody wants to keep something private, then you should let them keep it private,’ she says. This is an alien concept to me, being someone who has never kept anything private, but I respect her, um, privacy and leave things be.
That evening, I try to explain the concept of the tooth fairy to Edie.
‘So she comes and takes my tooth and leaves me money under my pillow?’ My daughter looks bemused. ‘What does she do with the tooth? Why does she want it?’ I muse on this for a little bit. ‘I think she wants your tooth because teeth make really good fairy houses.’ This seems to placate her for a while, but soon she has more questions. ‘If teeth make such good fairy houses, does that mean there are fairies living in our mouths RIGHT NOW?’ The thought seems to appal her. She starts to cry.
‘I don’t want fairies living in my mouth, Mummy! What if I eat them?’
‘That’s why we give them our teeth. So they don’t have to live in our mouths.’
Edie is not convinced. ‘I don’t like the sound of the tooth fairy coming in my bed. I think I will keep my tooth for myself.’ I should probably calm her fears, but with an extra £2 in my pocket, who am I to argue with her?
Jane Gordon Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
When Edie calls me on FaceTime to tell me the exciting news about her tooth, I find myself welling up in a way that has, of late, become something of a habit.
‘Oh you are such a big girl now, Edie,’ I mutter through the tears, as she reveals to me the gap left by her first departing baby tooth.
Perhaps I wouldn’t feel quite so emotional about this particular milestone in my granddaughter’s life if I hadn’t, a few days before her call, unexpectedly come across the memory boxes I made for each of my children when I moved out of London. At the time I came up with the idea of creating these little treasure troves of personal memorabilia (albeit in plastic storage boxes bought in WHSmith), I genuinely thought I was doing something for Bryony, Naomi and Rufus, not myself.
But when I opened them up and spent a whole day sentimentally sifting through the contents, it occurred to me that the school reports, the childish drawings and, yes, the baby teeth that the tooth fairy had taken in return for a single shiny £1 coin, probably meant more to me than they did to the three of them.
Because, of course, my grown-up children are (thank heavens) out in the world making new memories, too busy investing in a future to be concerned with the past contained in those boxes. And even though I know this is as it should be, I can’t stop the tears that each memento I have uncovered (and am uncovering still) has prompted. What on earth is wrong with me?
I make an appointment with the doctor in the hope that this morbid mood is down to my hormones (or lack of them) or some sort of vitamin or dietary deficiency.
But, deep down, I know that the problem is all in my head and that, rather like the baby teeth of five-year-olds, I am probably just away with the fairies; finally facing up to the idea of becoming a toothless old crone.
‘If teeth make such good fairy houses, does that mean there are fairies living in our mouths?’
I can’t stop the tears that each memento I uncover prompts. What on earth is wrong with me?