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The One Childhood Milestone I've Been Dreading

Photograph by Twenty20

Childhood is full of exciting milestones: Baby’s first step, first word, first day of school. And I've looked forward to each of these milestones with great anticipation. There is one, however, that I’ve pushed far into the back of my mind. I don’t like to think about it because it honestly terrifies me. It’s the milestone of “first loose tooth,” and all the other loose teeth that come after.

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My son is five years old now and some of his friends have already lost their first baby teeth. His have been holding on though, which is just fine with me. Except that the other day he was eating dinner at home and told me that his teeth hurt. “That’s strange,” I thought. I looked in his mouth and everything appeared normal. I gently touched my finger to one of his front teeth and was shocked when it moved!

It took everything in me to hide my utter disgust as I informed my son that he had his very first loose tooth. He was ecstatic. He started chattering excitedly about the tooth fairy and money and big teeth. Meanwhile I was trying to just keep it together as the room felt as if it were closing in on me. I wish I were joking.

You see, I have this thing with loose teeth. It’s an irrational fear that takes over my mind. I’m not sure from where it stems. I understand that losing baby teeth is a very normal part of childhood. I understand that usually the process is painless and there's very little blood involved. I get it! But for some reason I have a visceral reaction every time I see a tooth wiggle. My heart jumps, anxiety sets in, and my face is overtaken with a look of horror.

For my son’s sake —who has unfortunately inherited some of my nervous habits—I try to keep a cheerful smile. I tell him it’s great his tooth is getting ready to fall out. I focus on the tooth fairy, the bringer of joy and money. I tell him he’s getting to be so big and it’s wonderful.

But deep inside I can’t believe it.

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I can’t believe I have this big kid who will soon have a mouth full of big teeth. I'm both terrified of having to deal with all the drama of teeth falling out and a little sad to see this boy of mine grow up. It’s one milestone I wasn’t exactly looking forward to, and now that it’s here, all I can do is accept the inevitable.

But one thing is certain, I’ll let my husband take care of any teeth pulling and collecting while I slip dollar bills under the pillows.

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