Like many couples who have kids, my wife and I started a book of milestones when each of our daughters were born. You know what I’m talking about: It’s hardbound, the cover is soft yellow, pink or baby blue with something like “Memories” across the front, and inside there are sections for you to write, and put photos in. It’s adorable. Or, it would be, if you could find the thing.
That’s because, if you are like us, you were able to keep up with that book for about eight weeks. And then you became more and more overwhelmed with changing diapers, taking your kid to and picking her up from daycare, and, of course, trying to get more than two hours of continuous sleep a night. And once all the toys and clothes that come with having a kid started the slow process of vomiting up and taking over your kid’s [or in our case, both kids’ room], locating that book became a near impossibility. The way our girls’ room looks, I’m lucky to find a matching set of socks for them, never mind a book in which I’m supposed to write down the details of things like our five-year-old’s first day of Kindergarten.
And yet, that first day of Kindergarten happened for little Maddo. In fact, it happened just last week, and because of many of the typical and also unexpected events that come with having kids, only now am I able to write about it, and one other milestone that was just as big, and which bookended that first day of real school for our girl.
Sending your kid to Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be. For starters, I don’t know any parent who has started a conversation with, “Well, we put little BayLee-Rylynn on THE BUS to go to her first day of school EVER today.” My mom has a picture of me on my first day of school back in 1973, complete with a name tag around my neck, getting ready to meet the bus. That was that. My folks sent me off on my own and I had to meet all the other kids on my own and walk into the hallowed halls of Wildwood Park Elementary School on my own. I don’t remember crying, but if I had, I would have done it on my own.
Today? Well, I don’t know how a chunk of the Bay Area got any business done on Sept. 2, because every parent of a Kindergartner at Maddo’s school took at least the morning off to see his and her [from what I could tell, both parents of every kid was there] little angel start his or her first day of real school. My wife and I even took the whole day off to do this.
And you know what Maddo did? Nothing. She didn’t cling to us. She didn’t fret. And she certainly didn’t shed any tears at the thought of having to actually learn something. Or, when we left, for that matter. She hopped in line with the other kids and walked right in. And when we picked her up a few hours later, she was as unfazed as is she when I ask her to pick up her toys from the living room floor. Which means, she showed no emotion at all.
That is, except for when she showed me her loose front tooth.
This thing started wiggling ever so slightly a couple of weeks earlier and every day since then, she had asked me a few times a day to check on it. And every day, as baby teeth often do when they start to come out, it wiggled just a little bit more. By the time we picked Maddo up on that first day of Kindergarten, and she had me look at it, it was nearly falling out of her gums. I knew it was coming out that day, and I could have pulled it out right there.
But, I didn’t want to take a chance on ripping the kid’s gums apart and having a river of blood spill out all over the classroom floor. Having Maddo forever known to her classmates as the kid who bled everywhere on the first day of school was not how I wanted her to start her proper education career.
So, we waited up until we got home, where the usual hurricane of craziness kicked in. Demands for iPads, demands for snacks, having to get hands washed and faces cleaned up before dinner. We’ve all been there. My wife and I got a mishmash of chicken nuggets, bread rolls and fruit together and set Maddo and her sister up for dinner.
And a few minutes later, as I was doing something at the kitchen sink, I felt a finger tapping at my back. It was Maddo.
Me: Hey. What’s up?
Maddo: Opens her mouth and points.
And there was now a gap where her tooth had been.
But there was no tooth in her hand. Nor, was there one on her plate, on the table, on the floor or right under the sofa. It was gone. And the only place we figured it could have gone was down her throat.
This is what can happen when your kid has a tooth that’s about to fall out and you give her a banana to eat. It was so soft that when she took a bite, the banana took her tooth out and they went down together when she swallowed.
The kid didn’t seem bothered by it. She just wanted to make sure she didn’t get rooked out of any Tooth Fairy earnings. So, we wrote her a note explaining the situation and left it under Maddo’s pillow that night. And you know what? Not only did the Tooth Fairy come in the night and accept our note as proof that Maddo had, indeed, lost a tooth, but she left our little girl $5.
[Here is where I crab like an ornery old man: Five dollars for a tooth? Back when I was a kid and Jerry Ford was running things we got a quarter if we were lucky, consarn it!]
Needless to say, Maddo was happy with her fiver. I only wish we could write about the experience in her milestone book, but it’s as missing as her first tooth.