Make room for the new growth

Jasper is about to lose a tooth. For the first time. He says he’s the last kid in his class to “lose it” (I know what that’s like) and he’s getting all kinds of advice: Wiggle it. Bite toffee candy (which he thinks is a great excuse to eat sweets). Let it fall out on its own. Push with your tongue until you feel the hole underneath, then pull. His teacher (Mme Sylvie) is away this week; the temp is obsessed by germs; he’s apparently not allowed to wiggle in class.

Jasper’s main worry is the possibility of swallowing the tooth. I have been assuring him that the Tooth Fairy will still come. (The going rate for the nocturnal visit is $2, which seems fair). I also volunteered tonight that if he does salvage the tooth, the Tooth Fairy (TF) will leave the tooth and the money under his pillow. “What would I do with the old tooth?” he asked in disgust, as if TF has some secret repository tooth pile, somewhere. I immediately thought “I’ll pop it into your memory book, the one that you won’t see until you’re much older — with the pictures of you on life support in the incubator when I was invoking any and all fairy and god-like beings to keep your 1.5lb self alive…” But I didn’t say this, of course. I love him so much that he’s still that micro preemie when I hug him. Just barely here, even though he’s now almost seven and 65lb here. But that’s my perception and permanent sense memory. Not reality.

Jasper’s tooth had been loose for 10 days, and I can barely contain myself; I want to yank it out. But this has me thinking of my first loose tooth. I have very strong memories of my dad tying a thick jute string to my tooth, and then to the clear glass door knob of the heavy wooden door in our old house in Winsloe, PEI, in the kitchen just off the back porch, just steps from the horse barn. Harness racers. I have to admit that I’m not sure if Dad swung the door closed — such is the power of select memory — but he definitely said he would. I just remember being scared, and a little excited, at the same time. I wanted it out too. But not like that. Now here we are. I called Mom last night (Dad’s 5 years gone) to ask if my memory was true. “Yes, he did tie your tooth,” she said, “He liked scaring you. But I don’t think he would have done it.” Mom was 29 then; her memory is also selective. And I can’t blame her either.

How the world has changed. How it is the same.

Dad and Mom didn’t have a computer at home then. Rotary dial. Party line. They had a black and white TV with CBC and CTV. AM Radio. Mom wasn’t working. Dad left at 8AM and often didn’t come back until dark.

32 years later, I want to tie my son’s tooth to the fake wood door on Featherston Drive and I’m writing about it on my blog. And the fact that I’ve mentioned this to him, his eyes wide and in shock, makes me wonder if it’s not impossible to avoid history repeating itself, despite myself, supposed self awareness, and best intentions. I just want that tooth. I’ve got the toonie and the memory book and the Blog. And God help us when Jasper has kids.

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