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12 Days of Thanksgiving: DAY TWO

We lost another tooth last month. This time I found out about it in an “oh yeah” moment. These teeth seem to be getting fewer and fewer “breaking” news flashes. Now, we’re equally on the watch for the NEW teeth coming in. And, although it can be somewhat disconcerting to get the latest (with demonstration) at the dinner table, I’m finding a distinct comfort in these little milestones of life.

We’ve gotten progressively more confident. With the tooth thing. The last time it happened at the skating rink. Apparently. I wasn’t there for that big event. Again. After the exodus of four — now five — baby teeth, my little snaggletooth Drummer Boy is an expert. I don’t think I even know the location of big event number five. That’s quite a jump in confidence from tooth number one.

When Little Drummer Boy’s first loose tooth started to make its imminent departure known, he woke me at 3am. He was afraid and worried and unsure of everything. He knew from books and conversations that this happened to every child. Losing teeth was just one of those growing things. But on that day (way back in kindergarten) it was totally different. It was happening to him. When we’re faced with that newness — that change — for the first time, it’s always bigger than we thought.

There was his concern at the breakfast table. His resistance to go to school. His wanting his teachers to know — and wanting me to tell them. His look of worry. His covering smile. His desire for someone to know. Maybe everyone to know. To be aware of this very personal change.

I know that feeling.

I remember so clearly wanting to hold him. Wishing I could hold him all day. And shelter him from the brunt of this change — a change I knew he would get past. In time and when the sting of that first loss was gone.

Change is part of life — the most consistent part. Life changes. Accepting that change is a lesson I hope as I can continue to teach my babies. As I try to accept the change in our lives myself. And my own inability to shield them from it.

My children push me forward. There’s no way around it. They are incapable of existing without joy and smiles and play. So they pull me along. They are incapable of making themselves stop growing. They can’t help but press on — at break-neck speeds sometimes. And while it’s often hard for me to keep up during this season, I’m so thankful for their continued and insistent steps forward. Toward change. And the acceptance of change.

You hear that kids are resilient. I wonder if it’s more that they just accept change more easily. After all, their whole existence is change — compacted, magnified and over-arching change. Little Drummer Boy is seven now and I don’t know if even once in those seven years has he gained his stride for more than a minute before the upheaval of another stage, another lesson, another change began its churning. Yes, he’s an expert at tooth-losing, but what of the latest and greatest lessons of every other kind? All the normal lessons, and the not-so normal ones. Such is the process of ever-learning. Such is life when you are so young. Change.

When I think about the resilience of Little Drummer Boy and his ever-revolving stages, I wonder if it comes from this: He hasn’t yet realized he knows everything. He is full of the never ending process of recognizing curiosity and trying to satisfy it. He hasn’t reached the moment when he feels certain he knows what needs to be known — when he has arrived at some defining moment of understanding. No, I think he is somehow cognizant of the vast sea of knowledge or understanding he does NOT possess. And that’s completely acceptable to him. So, perhaps facing the unknown isn’t quite so jarring. When you face the unknown so regularly.

The trouble with growing up sometimes is that we lose sight of all that we DON’T know. We are wooed by the idea that we have arrived at knowing everything we need to know. In that love affair with understanding, the unknown and the unexpected are unwelcomed, but insistent guests. And when we are confronted with change that comes from what may be the UNknowable, the blow is even greater.

As I’m pressing through my own growth spurts in this 12-day series, I’m thankful for the example from my children that life does indeed keep moving. It changes. But those changes get easier as we go.

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