COVID-19 Diaries: First Lost Tooth


We are all sitting around our dining table. The afternoon sun feels pleasant as it filters through the window even if it is windy and cold outside. The steam swirls and diffuses into the air from the keerai kootu. I serve the children while the husband dutifully mixes the hot rice, ghee, and kootu for each of them. Laddu asks for and, gets chips crushed and sprinkled on hers.

I am mostly done when I realize Laddu has hardly touched her plate. She toys with the rice, pushing it side to side. Her baby tooth, the one right on the bottom front is hanging by a thread. It is bloody. The tooth behind has come in fully grown. She eats as I exhort her, relapsing to solitude when I do not pay attention.

One by one we are done, I clear the dishes and put everything away. Her plate is still full. I step away to do work but I am pulled to her. So, I draw up a chair and sit next to her. Her large eyes are brimming with tears. I hug her close. I feed her. Tiny spoons placed directly on her tongue. She chews with difficulty. I scroll through my phone between each spoon watching for demands from work. A sudden yelp and then the joy!

She holds out the tiny tooth in her hand. It is a little bigger than a grain of rice. I ask her to put it away. The rest of the food goes down quick. We wash her tooth, find a box to put it in and I finally get back to work.

On her table by her bed is a labor of love. A fairy holds a “Wellcome Home” sign. There are toadstools and a little cove to harbor her first baby tooth. There is a letter that states the obvious. There are no demands. None except a plea for the fairy to let Laddu know what she looks like. The letter is addressed to Bongo, the tooth fairy.

Early in the morning, under the dull light of the kitchen island, the husband is hard at work. His handwriting is neat. The letters spaced evenly. He responds to the questions in her letter. There is another piece of paper with a large U drawn on it. He sheepishly points to his attempt to copy from an image of the tooth fairy from his phone. I take the pencil from him and make a fairly decent imitation.

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I am standing under the living room fan, cooling off after the thirty minutes on the elliptical. I hear Laddu’s voice. She is excited. Her voice rises and falls as she recounts how her tooth is gone and in its place a letter with a note that states “amma will get me a book.”

I record part of her excitement as a video. A time capsule for later. I hug and kiss her. I read her precious letter and aww and ooh over the hand-drawn fairy. She eats her cereal with strawberries. It is clear today is a good day.

It feels like it was only recently that I slaved overnight printing out tooth fairy certificates and assembling gift bags for the twins. Pattu is on a detective mission trying to tell her little sister that the handwriting is familiar. She says it is appa who wrote it. The little one is not having it. Dad and Pattu huddle for a while and then she lays off her investigation.

Over lunch, we talk about the tooth fairy again. Laddu proclaims she did not get her $1 bill because dollar bills have coronavirus on them. I watch in wonder as children acclimatize, acculturate, accommodate, and take to this new norm. From abruptly canceled school to once in a lifetime events like the tooth fairy, everything is taken in stride, excuses granted and new routines established.

Only yesterday I rued over how the next year would look like. I feared that I would have to keep the children home for over a year. I worried about how I was going to manage work, home, school, and everything else.

Today, my daughter showed me how. One day. One event at a time.

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