I am tinkled pink and floating on a cloud. My son, who will turn six on New Year's Day, has reached a rite of passage in his young life.
I was covering a meeting Monday night, and called home to check on the family and see if the little guy had taken his bath and brushed his teeth like he was supposed to.
At his age, he is ready to begin shedding his baby teeth. Two of his front teeth have been loose and wobbly the past few days, and my husband excitedly told me that the bottom one was gone. It fell out that day at school, and the teacher carefully put it in a plastic bag for him to take home.
My son was excited about finally losing the tooth, and tried as hard as he could to stay awake long enough for me to see the hole where it had been.
After my meeting, I rushed straight home to see for myself the tooth in the plastic bag. Needless to say, the Tooth Fairy came that night, and did the coin-for-tooth exchange.
Looking at that tiny, little tooth, and what it represents, I felt excitement, tinged with a little sadness. It is proof positive how fast my child is growing up, right before my very eyes.
I remember when he was a baby, with no teeth at all. I remember when he cut his first teeth, two on top and two on the bottom. It seems like just yesterday. I remember when he learned to sit up, then to stand. I remember when he moved from a crawl to a walk, then to a run.
These days, it's hard to keep up with him. He's wildly popular at school, and I sometimes wonder what he will be like in his teen years, and ultimately, what career path he will choose after college. Yes, I am assuming he will go to college, and we have been saving for it since he was two.
Looking at that tooth reminds me of when I was that age, and one of my baby teeth would get loose. It tickled, yet I was afraid to let anyone touch it.
When I finally got brave enough to let my mom or dad inspect it, sometimes, my dad would tie a string around my tooth, give it a quick tug, and it would be out.
I suspect in my son's case, his fell out when he was eating lunch. For several days prior, he was very worried he would accidentally swallow his tooth.
When I was around 5 or 6, and starting losing baby teeth, the front ones always fell out first. The missing top or bottom tooth allowed us to spit through the hole between the other teeth. To a child that age, that's the coolest thing in the world.
The popular kids always seemed to be the ones who were first to lose a tooth. And speaking of teeth, a few years later, the popular kids were the ones to get braces.
When I was in fifth grade, I was one of those kids. To straighten my teeth, my mom took me to the orthodontist for braces on top and bottom. I was one of those stubborn ones who refused to cooperate and wear the headgear and the elastics, which meant I had to wear the infernal things for a lot longer than necessary.
When I finally got tired of not being able to chew gum or eat caramel, taffy and all my favorite chewy foods, I changed my tune and started wearing the required gear. I was a happy camper when the braces finally came off.
Knock on wood, I hope my son will not need braces when all his adult teeth come in. I will cross my fingers and hope for the best. In the meantime, I think we should save up some extra money just in case.
Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.