Missing tooth

B’s first grade teacher is notoriously less than thrilled about wobbly teeth.  Even less so when they actually fall out.  (An unfortunate issue for a first grade teacher to have!)  But, I imagine, that regardless of how much she doesn’t like it, it’s something she probably has to deal with fairly frequently.  We added to the problem when one of B’s front teeth fell out at school one day in February.  It was a surprise to pick up my little guy from school to find him looking significantly different than he had when I dropped him off!

B had already lost his two bottom front teeth last year, and it was vaguely traumatizing for both of us (for him because anytime part of you disconnects from your body, it’s a little weird; for me because how is it really possible that he’s big enough for that already?!?).  But him losing his top front tooth (followed very shortly afterwards by him losing the other one, creating a perfect storm of little boy cuteness which lasted most of the summer) made me again all too aware of how quickly time is rushing past.

And then, there’s the fact that now, just a few short months later, he has two big, grown-up front teeth, and it’s stopped being strange to me that he does.

I love that B is growing up.  I am so happy that he is strong and healthy and getting bigger every day, just as he should.  But it’s all just happening SO FAST.  I can’t believe how quickly my little guy is turning into a big guy.

Loose tooth

The other day, as we were sitting down to lunch, Benjamin was complaining that there was something stuck behind his tooth.  I took a look, and indeed there was — behind his lower front tooth, another new tooth is growing in.  Upon closer inspection, I also found that the baby tooth it will replace is loose, though B hadn’t yet noticed that.  There’s no denying it — my little guy continues to grow up.

Of course he does.  The milestones have been flying by lately — just last week he had his preschool graduation, and he’ll start first grade (!) in August.  He’ll be 6 in just over a month, so of course there have been many changes along the way — solid foods, walking, talking, potty training, writing, riding a pedal bike.  I would have thought I’d be getting used to the idea of him growing up and changing by now, but I was surprised at how much this one got to me.

Discovering that little sliver of permanent tooth poking through his gum line really did surprise me.  First, it’s legitimately a little ahead of schedule.  But, more significantly, it feels like the training wheels are coming off — for him, for us.  He’s getting his grown up teeth.  The same ones that will be smiling in his high school graduation pictures, in his wedding pictures, maybe even in pictures of him as a dad one day.  Practice time for teeth is over.  If he doesn’t take good care of his permanent teeth, it could lead to lifelong problems, so now it’s show time for great dental hygiene.

It’s also a reminder that all of that is getting to be true for more than just his teeth.  As parents we (thankfully) get a bit of a trial period — a phase where it’s likely that our kids won’t remember every mistake, every bad moment, every time our tempers are lost.  But they get bigger, and the practice period ends, and we get into that part of parenting that goes on our permanent mental report card.  If we drop the ball now, they’ll remember.  We’ll still be talking about it in 30 years at Christmas dinner.  (And that freaks me out, too, because I’m still making plenty of mistakes and having more than enough bad days.)

Even Dan, who is usually sympathetic but uncomprehending in the face of my wistful moments of Mommy sadness as the boys grow up, was more than a little shocked and emotional about the loose tooth.  Getting that first big tooth is a big day, and I’m not sure that either Dan or I was really ready for it.

But B is just so excited.  He can’t wait for it to come out so the Tooth Fairy will come and bring a coin.  He feels big and proud and grown up.  I feel those things, too … but I also feel shocked and sad and freaked out that time passes so quickly and nothing ever stays the same.  I like my kids just as they are.  And though I know that I’ll continue to like them as they grow up, I do miss each stage that they pass through as we leave it behind.  It’s hard to let go of where they were as they move on.

What I said though, was, “Wow! That is so great!!! I’m excited, too.”  Because I am.  But I’m still in disbelief that he’s big enough for grown up teeth.  He’s still my little boy.  But, truly, he is leaving babyhood behind him and becoming, without question, a big boy … who isn’t really so little anymore.  My guy is growing up.  Finding that tooth made me take a step back and look at him in a way that I haven’t before, and it made me realize that he actually stepped out of babyhood a while ago.  I just wasn’t ready to see it.

The pitter patter of little feet

It finally happened.  Dan & I were lying in bed this morning (at 7:30!) and we heard it – little footfalls running through the apartment.  Benjamin was on the loose, and neither one of us had yet gotten up.  We switched his bed from a crib to a toddler bed last weekend, and it only took him a week to figure out he can actually get in and out without supervision.

Sigh.  I was hoping for longer.  (I’ve heard of people whose kids went MONTHS not realizing they were no longer confined.)

I have to admit, though, it was a pretty cute sound.  I was worried that he’d be worried — that he’d come out to the living room, and not finding us, would freak out a little.  But no, he apparently climbed up on the couch, got himself all comfy and then started saying, “Mommy!” relatively loudly (not loud enough to wake the neighbors or anything, but loud enough that I was worried he was going to wake Liam — who, miraculously, was ALSO still asleep).  I got up and came out quickly, in case he was concerned about where I was, but he was fine, he just wanted me to turn on the TV and get him a bottle.

It is a little scary for me, though — a little bit MORE of letting go.  If he gets up on his own, he could do any manner of dangerous things:  turn the oven on, get scissors out of the drawer and run with them, drink laundry detergent (or any other kid-unsafe item in the house) or, the worst:  he could actually leave the apartment.  I’m a mom.  I worry about these things.  Of course, he has no reason to do any of those things, and has never shown any inclination to do any of those things, but in my imagination, he’s going to start as soon as he starts wandering out of his own bed in the morning (or the middle of the night).  I have to convince myself to be watchful without being paranoid, and reasonable in the face of potential danger.  It’s not easy.

Really, though, it was pretty cool to hear him up and running around on his own this morning.  I’m pretty proud of him for that moment of independence, and for not being worried when he didn’t find us out here, awake.  I guess the next thing to do is to teach him to work the TV on his own, and the sleeping possibilities will be limited only by my nerves and Liam’s wakefulness.

Big boy bed

Last night, Benjamin asked if we could change his crib into a “big boy bed”.  I was surprised to hear it — it’s not something we’ve advocated for and I wasn’t sure he’d even been paying attention the couple of times we had explained to him, months ago, that his bed converts into a “big boy” bed and that he should tell us when he wants us to do it.  (When will I learn?  This kid is ALWAYS listening.)

Also, Benjamin has not been in a hurry to grow up — especially since Liam’s arrival.  After a brief initial interest in potty training, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.  We’ve cut him back to 2-3 bottles a day, and he will drink milk from a cup, but we haven’t made many strides in moving away from bottles, either.  And he’s been reluctant to embrace the separation of school (although this week he did seem happier about going and less enthusiastic to leave).  So, I figured that moving out of his crib would go in the same category, and that it would be a while until he decided it was time.

I should have figured, though.  During our move and transition here, he slept in several “big” beds — a twin bed at my mom’s house before we left, another in our first apartment here, the couch at the second apartment we had here, and a twin bed mattress on the floor when we first moved in here.  And, we’ve had a few “sleep overs” on the futon in the living room.  So, the concept isn’t foreign to him.

Our plan is to change it tomorrow.  For now, a “big boy” bed means changing his crib into a toddler bed.  It’ll still be small, but he’ll be able to get in and out on his own.  It’ll be easier to give him a pre-bed snuggle, and I won’t miss lifting him in and out of the crib twice a day, every day.

I’m also a little sad, though, and a little anxious.  It’s been comforting to know, when I put him down for the night, that he’ll be there in the morning.  I haven’t had to worry about him getting up and playing in the middle of the night, wandering through the house, getting in to stuff while we’re sleeping, waking Liam up, or any other variety of nocturnal mayhem.  Yikes.

I used to say that I’d leave the video monitor in his room hooked up until he was in his “big boy” bed and could come and get us when he needs us.  Not a chance.  I’m keeping that thing set up for the time being.

I wonder how long it’ll take him to figure out he can unplug it.  Yet again, life as I know it, is over.

First steps

Liam is now mobile.  Well, he’s been mobile for a while — ever since he could roll over he appeared to have a destination in mind, and once he started crawling, he was off to the races.  I have seriously never seen a child crawl as fast as he does.  Given that we have parquet floors here, his crawling was even at some personal cost:  he’s regularly gotten blisters on his feet and hands ever since he started speeding around our hard floors.

003Of course, first thing this morning, when our backs were turned for 15 seconds, gathering up Benjamin’s stuff for school, he toppled over and gave himself a good bonk on his head (of course, he hit the one part of the edge of the entertainment center that isn’t covered by cushioned foam) and he didn’t make any further attempts at walking today.  I can’t imagine he’ll be discouraged for long, though — that just isn’t in his nature.  (It did put a dent — no pun intended — in his other favorite pastime of banging his head on the floor, though, which he usually does at least a dozen times a day.  Every time he did it today, he burst into tears — poor guy!)  By this evening, our living room/dining room/kitchen had become a race track for Liam with his “push car” and Benjamin with his “push bike”.  (Benjamin is faster, but not for long, I imagine.)

I suspect, now that he’s walking, he won’t look back — he’ll quickly overcome his fear of toppling over, and I imagine it’ll be nice to leave the blistered hands and feet in the past.  It’s astonishing how fast things change.  A year ago, I was eagerly anticipating my due date and Liam’s birth, and now, 355 days later, we are miles from there, in so many ways.