I’m slapping a restraining order on the tooth fairy. She’s trying to steal my baby.
When our daughter lost her first tooth last fall, we cheered. That bitty gap in her bottom row was new and endearing. The second tooth we viewed as a celebration of courage. It popped out during Sunday school, without Mom or Dad on hand to soothe the trauma. Our girl earned a five-dollar bill under her pillow that night, for bravery.
But the third tooth. Well, that was different. The third one sank my heart.
Because it was a central incisor—a big top tooth, smack in the front of her face. When it went loose a few weeks ago, I encouraged her not to rush the process. No need to wiggle it out too fast. Let those chompers uproot in their own sweet time. Yes, let’s just be content to deny the inevitable.
But when the darn thing hung by a thread and my beautiful child came running from the bathroom one evening last week clutching her front tooth in a crumpled tissue, grinning so wide and so proud, I took a long look at that gaping hole and knew.
She is changing.
Suddenly, this one missing tooth transformed my delicate ballerina into an Appalachian moonshiner. Her smile is a jigsaw puzzle. Her baby face, forever gone.
And I didn’t get to say goodbye.
Yes, I know. This toothless stage is a necessary part of her childhood. It’s the next step on her journey to maturity, toward the ultimate beauty God intends. And yet I find myself mourning the passing of her earlier years, as though they are who she is, not this hillbilly imposter.
But then I remember. I’m growing up, too. We all are. And awkward stages are part of the deal.
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church,” (Ephesians 4:14–15, NLT).
The purpose of living is to mature. For me, that means discerning more and more what I’ll allow to fill my head and spill out my mouth. Whether it’s learning to speak respectfully to my husband, to trust God with my fears, or to deny my selfish nature again and again and again for the sake of nurturing my children—these are my pulled teeth, yanked one by one until slowly God sprouts stronger, deeper-rooted virtues in their place.
Do you see? Those ugly black gaps aren’t empty space. They’re room to grow. How can I grieve yesterday’s little girl when the one standing before me today is closer to God’s design?
So, on second thought, I’ll let the tooth fairy in. She has my daughter’s best interests at heart. Besides, after that last tooth bit the dust, its neighbor shifted oddly to the center, and now my little moonshine brewer bears a freakish resemblance to Nanny McPhee.
Tooth fairy—help me out, sister. That tusk has got to go.