Do you find that with little ones the milestones come all at once? When they were really tiny they were saying “Mama”, and walking, and proving their father wrong on the question of broccoli all within a moment, and then it was running and throwing their arms around your neck for a jam smothered kiss and the first unprompted “I luff you”. It feels like we’ve hit two more within a breath of each other.
The first of Kitty’s teeth coincided with the start of school, falling out into a post-church-coffee bourbon biscuit much to her very great surprise when aged 5 and a smidgen her parents had entirely failed to mention that teeth fall out and it’s not a problem. It’s our biggest parenting fail to date but in my defence I thought I had another year to cover the subject.
Tooth number two, another bottom one, followed quickly after and then for the last year or so we’ve got used to that gap, and watched the new big girl teeth make their way in below. One top tooth in particular has been very wobbly for months, to the point that we were starting to contemplate a dentist visit to check all was well when I got a text message late one Friday afternoon while I was down in London. Her first top tooth was eagerly awaiting the tooth fairy.
In our house the tooth fairy doesn’t take the teeth, because Kitty wants to keep them, and she doesn’t leave money because she didn’t have any to hand when the first tooth fell out and had to make do with whatever she could find. Back then it was a chocolate coin which I’m near certain had my dentist grandfather turning in his grave, and most recently it was a tiny notepad with a gold initial on each page and a pen with radishes on it (because the tooth fairy came with Mummy on a trip to the Kikki K shop on the way home from work).
When I took this month’s Siblings photos that weekend, she was determined that everyone would see that shiny new gap, even if it did make her look less like she was gazing affectionately at the rest of the family and more as if we were a tasty snack.
And in the same week we discovered that she needed new glasses. It’s not the newness that makes this so much of a milestone; she’s worn glasses for nearly a year now, and we’ve got through several pairs of glasses both from a change in the prescription and Kitty’s determination that glasses will not prevent her from doing anything, right up to and including being sat on by her brother. But this time, there is a change.
(this is the look she’s going to give me when she’s 16 and I suggest that 10pm is a perfectly acceptable curfew isn’t it!)
Since that first letter came home from school to suggest that we might like to take her for an opticians’ appointment, Kitty has been working her way through a cast of Disney characters on the arms of her glasses (bless you Specsavers for having glasses that she wanted to wear, and my mother in law for suggesting it). We’ve had Elsa and Tinkerbell, Ariel, Cinderella and the Minions and all of my scruples about not letting my children be walking adverts (“you can wear a t-shirt with Elsa on it when she wears one with you on it”) were thrown out of the window because of all the selections of children’s glasses in all the opticians within easy reach they were easily the nicest. And truth be told, when John took her in to have her latest check up I was expecting more of the same, perhaps Belle this time for variety.
Except my lovely tall girl, who rocks age 10-11 clothes at age 6, has grown out of the characters range. Nothing with a princess on was the right size for her face, and found myself sat in the office, wishing I was there to lend a helping hand as they entered the world of pre-teen glasses and a world of uncertainty.
Choosing glasses for Kitty worries me, far more than it does her. When I was little my choices were whether to have the pink NHS pair or the blue (I generally alternated) and the photos between age 5 and 13 show me with one or the other; enormous plastic frames and every so slightly Dame Edna Everage pointy corners (well it was the 80’s) and I swore to myself when she and her brother and sister were born that if they needed glasses they would always look smart and modern and up to date and never feel less because they’d inherited my dodgy eyesight. So far we’ve had not problems, but what I think of as the antithesis of what I wore as a child; metal frames, small lenses; isn’t the fashion any more. The 80′ are back (and you have no idea how old that makes me feel). The current trend is for bigger lenses and more obvious frames and there was a little six year old incarnation of me that whispered “don’t do that” in my ear when I heard of the options that they had in the shop that fitted my lovely eldest daughter.
But times have changed, and the joys of a vintage revival is that it tends to keep only the good stuff and ditch the bits that you skim over in the family photo albums, and if I’m honest with myself I can see that. I cannot and I will not let my own experiences overshadow my children.
So Kitty has new glasses. They’re bigger frames than last time, they’re definitely more of a statement, they have Cath Kidston flowery arms (or Cath Kit Kat as Kitty says) and my not so little girl rocks them. She is in every inch, wearing the glasses, and not the other way round, and she looks awesome in them.
It was the first time that I’ve really had to let go of what has made up me, to recognise what it is that makes up her. No one will tease her for having Cath Kinston glasses; she wore them to school and her classmates were only excited for her, and at home she couldn’t wait to show them off to her siblings. And for me, to get that wrapped around my brain until the worries calmed and the tension ebbed; that was the latest in a very long line of lessons that my daughter will teach me.