MUM & ME

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - CONTENTS -

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?

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