On January 4th Kimani lost her first baby tooth. It happened right before dinner. My husband was bringing her to her highchair when he mentioned that she had a tooth that was sticking up in an odd way, like maybe it was loose. I told him to hold her so I could have a look in there and just as I opened her mouth, a bottom front tooth fell out onto her lip. It is smaller and daintier than any of my other children’s, so reflective of her.
I wasn’t ready for this, not just because her teeth came in late and therefore in my mind would fall out late, but because she is still my baby. To me she is frozen in time, forever about 24 months old.
I know, Autumn is really the baby of the family... but she’s not. Autumn can talk, and count, and read Moo Baa La La La with me, and she can handle an iPad like nobody’s business. Autumn might still look like a baby, but she is actually an ordinary toddler with a rather deceptive baby face.
Kimani isn’t a baby anymore either, which this damn tooth on my desk proves.
So what now? It is hard to watch her body grow while the rest of her stays behind. It is hard to watch other children with her same extra chromosome move along intellectually while she still struggles with the basics of feeding herself with a fork.
She is this beautiful little girl with a whole lot on the inside that can’t make its way to the outside. And yet sometimes it seems as though there is nothing at all going on in there. It was easier when she was a baby because so much less was expected of her. Babies eat and poop and look cute, and she mastered that. Now, I feel like almost everyone who meets her and tries to interact with her ends up looking to me for answers, explanations, and excuses. I am the voice she doesn’t have.
When I plucked that tiny tooth off her lip, it struck me that she is growing up, without toothfairies or ABCs. Denial and I wanted to stuff that little thing back in her mouth but we couldn’t because in its spot was already the nub of an adult replacement.
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