I haven’t had much to compare with my kids’ childhoods. I don’t recall being born, potty training, or my first day of preschool. The earliest teacher I can recall is my second grade teacher, Mrs. O’Connell, who read us chapter books that we could win afterwards and gave me an ice cream cone after I memorized my multiplication tables.
I have hazy scenes in my mind before 7 years old grown from stories told over and over at Thanksgiving dinner and Polaroid photographs rather than my memory. I have been walking my children through their milestones as milestones for both of us — completely new for me, too.
My son is 5. He is beginning to read and write and fall in love with the order of numbers. I don’t remember 5 except for my kindergarten teacher yelling at me for flirting, and by “flirting,” I mean stealing a boys calculator and running away laughing, which is EXACTLY how I scored my husband. I can remember loving to read and write but I don’t remember the learning and frustration and triumph. I feel excited for him but I have no personal place to draw from.
However, my son lost his first tooth today. I know everyone loses teeth. He is not the first 5-year-old, and he will not be the last (or if he is we are in REALLY big trouble). But the difference in this mundane milestone and why I am waxing philosophical is I remember losing my baby teeth. The wiggling. The grossing out my mom. The final pop as an explosion of metallic taste filled my mouth. My special tooth pillow ready for the tooth fairy’s visit.
I loved every minute of losing each tooth. My son did, too.
This morning, when his voice echoed through our home, Mama! Mama! I lost my tooth!, I almost cried. Not because he’s growing up so fast, but because he called out to me to share this moment. A moment I now remember twice over — once from my childhood and once from his.
27 years apart but with the same pillow.
I thought I had years before I would feel at once so old and so young — dancing with joy and wondering how much time he and I have left together.