I saved my children’s teeth. My family thinks I’m a freak for doing so. I suppose it is an odd thing to do, like taking your favorite pet to the taxidermist instead of the plot of ground in your back yard.

Hair and teeth and baby clothes, favorite blankets and best-loved books.

Tangible reminders of when they were little and would fold themselves up in your lap while you laughed at that piggy, plump and little, in the very merry middle, or rocked and nursed the little bundle and drank in the smell of her hair and felt her skin so, so soft, or tried to sooth the aching of those tender gums.

Those things don’t bring them back. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t want them back! I love the women they have become! But I do sometimes miss the babies they were.

I tend not to be overly sentimental. Just enough to shed a brief, nostalgic tear before getting on with the business of the day. But, I am not alone!

I have been going through old letters that belonged to Rob’s parents and grandparents. Rob’s grandfather was a sentimental man. He saved love letters from his wife before they were married. Rob’s grandmother, on the other hand,  was NOT the sentimental type. Who would have known she could be so besotted? Amongst the letters was a note from Rob’s mother when she was young. Her father had been away when she lost her first tooth, so she wrote to him of the event and included the tooth. It was taped to the paper. When I opened the letter, the tooth fell out. The tape had dried and the tooth had broken into pieces. He kept that letter and that tooth the rest of his life.

When Caroline was little she fell while playing outside and broke her front tooth. I had to take her to the dentist to get the root pulled out. So I held her and tried to calm her while the dentist yanked out what was left of that incisor. Oh, I felt awful for her. All the pain she had endured cutting that tooth just to lose it prematurely because of some wet cement. I had tried teething rings and ice and Oragel. Nothing worked, and, in the end, all I could do was hold her while she fussed. The image constantly before me while the dentist worked was of those hours spent together in the rocker while she cried because her mouth hurt, and I hurt for her.

Like every new ordeal, the first time is the hardest. By the time Holly and Emma cut teeth, I knew what to expect, and while I felt sorry for them, impotence in the face of their suffering was not so traumatic. After a few years, when in due time the teeth came out, we all rejoiced. Funny…when the teeth come in, there is no blood, but there is weeping and wailing, and when they come out, there is plenty of blood, but it is all eagerness and delight. Time and the ensuing bumps and bruises of life furnish a new perspective.

So, yes, I keep the teeth. And, yes, it’s kind of weird.