A Lesson My Daughter Taught Me About Teeth and Magic
By John L. Micek
This is a story about magic.
And baby teeth.
The other night, my 10-year-old daughter walked into the living room. There was a small smile on her face. And a paper towel was jammed into her mouth.
"I lost my last baby tooth," she said, and then burst into tears. She ran into my wife's arms, and sat, crying, for a long time.
And even though she's teetering on the brink of being a full-fledged 'tween, she still looked very small there.
When she'd calmed down a bit, I asked her what was bothering her. Losing the tooth, I said, was a happy event. It always had been before.
Her eyes red, her voice hoarse and soft, my daughter looked at me and said, "It's the last one. And now Mandy won't come anymore."
Left unspoken, but known to my wife and I, was that my daughter had also made it pretty clear that she wasn't ready for the changes that will soon be upon her.
But about Mandy ... She's the tooth fairy who's been visiting my daughter at least once a year since she's been old enough to start losing teeth. Her name, in case you're wondering, comes from the Latin for jawbone, Mandibula.
And on those nights when my little girl lost a tooth, Mandy traveled from whatever parallel dimension she calls home. She'd take the tooth, leave a bit of cash, and a note -- always typewritten, always in pink, always in a cursive font.
She's just that sort of tooth fairy.
And in the morning, my daughter would race downstairs, her face alight, the note and the loot in her hand, joyously proclaiming, "Mandy came!"
If you're a parent, there's no greater or brighter light than the one that comes from the face of your happy child.
So that night, as my daughter slept, Mandy visited us once more. And, as she always does, she left a note.
And I'm sharing it with you:
"I can't believe it! You've finally lost your last baby tooth! When I heard the news tonight, I was both sad and happy all at the same time.
I was sad because it means my journey with you is just about finished. I've been with you ever since you were a baby, watching you in your crib as you experienced the world around you. And then I was there with you when you were a little girl, finding both your way and your voice in this new world you'd discovered.
Every tooth was a passage, a step toward a newer and bigger you. I was there with you for every step. And now, you're ready to take the next step on that journey. That I won't be there all the time makes me sad.
Even fairies cry sometimes.
But I am happy because I know you are on the cusp of a great adventure. And I can hardly wait to see what kind of young woman you grow up to be.
Now that you're old enough: I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Once you get a Tooth Fairy, we're yours for life. Sure, we may not visit you and leave presents under your pillow. But that doesn't mean that we're not looking after you at all times, making sure that you're safe and cared for and loved.
You'll see us in the sunlight through a raindrop. You'll hear us in that quiet moment when the crickets are chirping in your yard in summer, and as your breath rises and falls as you drift off to sleep. You'll feel us in the caress of a soft breeze on your cheek.
And no matter what - keep believing in magic. There may be some who tell you that there's no such thing. But you and I know they're wrong. The magic is all around you. All you have to do is open your eyes to see it.
I love you. And I always will.
The next morning, my daughter was in her bedroom, her head on my wife's shoulder. She had the note in one hand, the loot in the other. I poked my head in on my way to the kitchen.
"How's it going?" I asked.
She looked up at me, her voice quiet again.
"Mandy left me something," she said, pointing to a pink organza bag tacked to her bulletin board.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Mandy left me all my baby teeth," she said. She sniffled. Later, there were the beginnings of a smile.
My daughter believes in Mandy. So we do too.
And when friends tried to tell her there was no such thing as the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny or leprechauns, we'd ask her a simple question:
"Do you believe?"
"I do," she'd say.
"Then that's all that matters," we'd tell her in return. And from her strength of belief, we'd keep some wide-eyed wonder in our hurried lives too.
There's plenty of time left for the world to disappoint my little girl; time enough for her to be hurt or let down; time enough for her to maybe even stop believing in magic.
But not today.
©Copyright 2016 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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