“Mom! mom!!” Her excitement is contagious as she bounds down the stairs, her smile stretching from ear to ear, her eyes wide as saucers. I have my AirPods on as I listen to a masterclass on retrograde planets. I pause the lesson and slow my pace to take in what is happening.
“The tooth fairy came! She brought Lovehearts and Snowflake with her! She took my tooth away and left me a letter…” My youngest is breathless as she takes in the enormity of what must have transpired as she slept. I try to keep a straight face even as my hands automatically fumble with my camera settings to capture what is unfolding in front of me.
As the youngest, she is the last torchbearer of all things imaginary and magical in our home. She believes in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus even when the evidence clearly points otherwise. She believes in these creatures with the devotion that rivals the more fervent of devotees. She meticulously writes letters, tucks them in reverently under a book by her bedside table. She checks for responses, her face falling when she realizes there have been no fairy creatures sprinkling pixie dust on her while she slept.
Even as I record her on video and take a zillion pictures of her astonished face, I realize that these moments are the vestiges of innocent times. In a year, she will no longer be able to see the world with such childish merriment and wonder. The skeptic in her will question, dismantle, and dismember the illusions that bring her (and us) joy. Her baby teeth will all be out, she won’t be as little. She won’t stand still enough for me to divide her hair into four parts to tie up for wacky hair day. She will not even let me take as many pictures and videos of her as I do today.
These moments are bittersweet. Time is a fluid entity marked by moments like these that remind me that children grow, age, morph, and change as we go along. So, while these moments of tenderness and innocence linger, I am soaking it in, bottling them up in words and images for me to bring them out when I am old and lonely, for a journey back in time.