Our daughter excitedly ran out of her room, reporting, “I lost my last tooth!” It took a few moments to fully understand what she said. Our youngest son is losing teeth left and right, his mouth basically hollow. When our eldest made her own announcement, we laughed in disbelief. Her last baby tooth? It just couldn’t be.
The last baby tooth means saying goodbye to the fantasy of the tooth fairy. The last baby tooth means a farewell to the childhood bedtime to which we’ve grown accustomed. She’s getting older. As her parents, we adapt and change, learning how to be available as needed and give space to let our tween take safe risks and test boundaries.
But the last baby tooth does not mean a restriction of love. When she needs snuggles, we’re ready. When she wants to read, braid hair, or share stories about school, we’re here. Saying goodbye to childhood doesn’t mean saying goodbye to ritual. Saying goodbye to childhood doesn’t mean saying goodbye to hugs and embrace. Saying goodbye to childhood means a willingness to expand our heart and find different ways to show our love.
Childhood might fade but she’s still there.
The Torah teaches us to love God with all our heart, soul and might. Rashi, the medieval Torah commentator gives an interesting take on how to love with might. He explains that you should continue to love no matter what God offers. We may experience goodness or calamity but love for God should still remain.
His teaching informs the ways we offer love to others. As our closest relationships evolve, measures of love don’t need to change. What transforms are the mediums. Love can be exchanged just as easily through word, glance, or touch. It is upon us to be attuned to our loved one’s needs. A cuddle today, a fist bump tomorrow. But the love itself remains, stronger than ever.
No more childhood teeth or sneaky trips to put money under a pillow. But rest assured, my child will know expansiveness of the heart.
Only God knows the love we are capable of giving. A mighty, mighty love.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is senior rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.