With two special needs kids, I focus a lot on them and often worry that my neurotypical 5 year old daughter is not getting a lot of attention.
I say this despite the fact that she talks non-stop (like her old man), works hard on hijacking every conversation (same as you know who), overuses humour (me again) and has charm in overdrive (well, I try).
The impending move of the kids makes me even more concerned about her feelings because I can see the separation anxiety becoming ramped up.
Truth be told, like many a dad in my position, we feel we won’t matter in the lives of our kids and they will forget about us. It is up to us, though, to show our kids that their lives–and experiences–matter to us.
This week, after many predictions from my daughter about the date, her first tooth fell out. Having a teenager, I’ve been through this before and know what a life-changing moment it is for children. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it is huge for parents, too.
For a single parent, missing out on things like this is a hard pill to swallow. I know that after the move when the visitation becomes less frequent, I will miss more of these moments.
So, it was wonderful when my daughter called and asked for a special sleep over when her tooth fell out. Among other reasons for wanting to be with me, she said she wanted me to meet her tooth.
My little Rachel has so many gifts, but the gift of her time is the most precious. That she wanted us to share a bit of the moment of her growing up fills me with a happiness that I cannot come close to expressing.
I had to channel the tooth fairy with sadness, happiness and acceptance that life changes.
On Tuesday morning, at 4:30 she opened my door and whispered that she wanted to show me what the tooth fairy had left. When we stumbled out the front door later that morning, she left without the loot. Her reason for leaving her cash behind was both sad and wonderful. Maybe some day it will be something that can be shared with her mom, but not today.
And in the end, that part doesn’t really matter. Rachel wanted to share this momentous day with all of her family and we all have our own special memories of it.
That will be the way it will work for the next big steps in her and her brother’s life.
By the way, Rachel was Baby B, meaning she popped out second. This week, Rachel came first because Daniel lost his first tooth 3 days after she did.