It's all so "first time", ya know?
The notion that a tooth might come loose one day is within the realm of their understanding. Kids know someday that will happen to them. They wiggle firmly cemented teeth and declare: "I think I have a loose tooth!". Parents humor them, "wiggling" a molar or some other tooth that is certainly not loose but coming up with vague encouragement nonetheless, "Oh! Maybe so huh?".
And then one night, usually under extremely mundane circumstances, that same child complains that her tooth hurts. Parents, always mildly panicked about decay, put down their forks, exchange uh oh looks and pivot their attention to the little culprit. But lo! It's just a loose tooth! A real loose tooth, something so foreign to this child's personal experience that it wasn't even on her short list of possibilities.
A loose tooth. The weirdness! The wonder!
Thus begins several days of "first time-ness". The first time the little girl can't eat with that tooth. The first time the tooth wiggles without help. The first time the tooth loses partial contact with the gum. These firsts come tumbling out and even though millions of kids all over the world have lost teeth, even though I myself have lost an entire set of teeth, the wonder of it all is downright catching. (A body simply detaching an unneeded part and casting it off, it really is a trip.)
And then the tiny thing actually falls out. And even though you have practiced in your mind's eye what the child will look like with a new shiny gap, it still presents a startling surprise. She tells everyone, a gentle pale of shock, freezing her features. Shocked delight. Frozen wonder. Her mind turning toward the "what next", pillows and fairies and later, an hour after the surprise, a palpable melancholy and sense of loss.
She's next to me now, writing a note to the tooth fairy explaining she is not so comfortable parting with her little gem just yet. I am keen to see how this plays out during the day, whether or not the tooth does in the end make it's way under her pillow and into the arms of that little fairy. (How beautiful that fairy must appear in Echo's mind! How little and special!) But I also understand the reluctance, as this phenomenon has never happened before, and now, in her teeny warm hand lies a treasure she is loathe to release to another.
It's her first after all.