“Grandma, will you teach me how to make a big-people tooth? My baby tooth fell out last night, and the Tooth Fairy came, but I have a hole in my mouth and I need a big-people tooth. Tell me how to make one. Please?”
My five and half year old granddaughter confidently waited for my reply. Sure enough, her sticky smile had a gaping hole where the pearl-sized tooth had been. I grappled for an answer, settling on the truth.
“Honey, I can’t teach you how to make a new tooth.”
Squirming impatiently, she encouraged, “Oh, sure you can, Grandma! You teached me lots of things. You teached me how to make cinnamon rolls, and how to sew a blanket for the baby, and you teached me how to read, even big words. And you teached me how to catch a ball, and now I can catch them all the time, if they’re thrown not too fast. You’re the one who teached me how to open eggshells, too. I need a new big-people tooth. Will it take long?”
True, I had nurtured this little girl through an assortment of experiences that year while her young father finished his last college semester, usually involving her in whatever household tasks I needed to do. Clearly, I’d neglected grammar. Trusting brown eyes fixed upon me, she waited for me to go retrieve whatever tool was required to make a new tooth. Hot glue gun, crochet hook, stew pot, trowel?
I sat her down, put my arm around her, and explained that the tooth she’d need for the rest of her days was already inside her, waiting to sprout. Indeed, it was in such a hurry, it had pushed the baby tooth out of its way. That led to a conversation about her perfect little self-contained body. She already had everything she’d ever need to grow, to be a teen, to be a woman, to be “as old as me, someday,” built in. There would never be a special-delivery influx of whatever she needed for the next stage of her life. Like the tooth she wanted, the power was already within her.
Satisfied, my precious grandchild stood up, hands on slim hips, head cocked, obviously thinking hard. At last, she spoke slowly. “Okay, I can wait for the big-people tooth. But can you teach me about pie? I like pie.”
“That, I can do.” Hand in hand, off to the kitchen we went.
Like my little granddaughter, all we need is already within us. The power to learn, the skills to develop any talent we’re willing to work for, all the God-given goodness required lies dormant, pushing its way out when the time is right.