"Do you have a wiggly tooth?" I asked him.
"No," he said.
I put my finger on the tooth and gently rocked it back and forth.
"Yes you do!"
He was thrilled. He spent the next twenty minutes wiggling it cautiously with his finger and telling me how he didn't want to wiggle it all the way out. Not yet.
"I'm really getting old," he told me at bedtime. "Now I'm almost six and three-quarters and I'm getting glasses and I have a wobbly tooth."
I'm fine with him being six and a half, but that's it for now. He's not six and three-quarters till the end of next month. I'm definitely not ready to have a seven-year-old.
I remember seven. I was in second class. Our teacher, Miss O'Sullivan, was twenty-one and fresh out of teacher-training college, and she was trendy and wore jeans and played the guitar. She taught us songs from Jesus Christ Superstar and she would eat an orange peel and all. I don't remember learning anything much apart from "... red and yellow and pink and orange and BLUE!" (that's Joseph's amazing technicolour dreamcoat), but those were the salient points. In a school where the principal was still an old-fashioned scary nun in a long, black habit (but not a wimple; I'm not that old), and where our previous teachers had been at least our own mothers' ages if not older, Miss O'Sullivan was something new and exciting.
I don't really remember losing my baby teeth, though. At least, bits and pieces, but not the first, not what it was like to be missing my two front teeth, not how sharp and big the new ones must have felt in my mouth when they came through. Not any of the things you'd think I'd remember.
I do remember how it felt to rock a tooth with your tongue, further and further, until it was holding on by a thread so that you could take it between your finger and thumb and twist it around, and then really the only decent thing to do was just give it a quick yank and put it out of its misery. I think I remember that. And I remember how it felt to gingerly probe the bloody, congealing hole with your tongue - but that memory might be due to all the teeth I had pulled before they put my braces on. That was a lot later, when I was 14.
I remember a note from the tooth fairy, who had forgotten to come, or didn't have any change and had to give me an IOU, or something. But this was later too, when I knew who the tooth fairy was, so I wasn't surprised that her handwriting and her little flower sketch looked so much like my dad's handiwork. (I think that was the same year Santa left me a note because I'd changed my list at the eleventh hour. Poor Santa couldn't keep up.) I don't remember the thrill of finding whatever the fairy had left for me earlier on, when I must have believed, when I lost the first few teeth. I don't know if I got 10p or 50p, but I think probably 10. Only very flaithúlach* tooth fairies would give out 50p pieces, and this was well before the introduction of the would-have-been-handy 20p coin.
We'll do the fairy, of course, when the time comes, even though Dash delights in telling me in a stage whisper that he knows it's really the parents. He's a stickler for tradition, as am I, and certain rituals must be followed.
And I imagine I'll end up keeping all the fairy spoils, and eventually find myself wondering what to do with them, as happened to a friend recently. If you look in the comments there, you'll see I provided her with a nice - and totally fabricated - alternative option. Maybe I should follow my own advice.
*Generous, to the point of rashness, perhaps. Pronounced "fla-hool-ock".