KAYA'S NEW SMILE
How proud she is of that cute new gap in her smile that each time breaks my heart a little bit as the Kaya I know and love fades visibly into this new person she is ever becoming...
In the Japanese tradition, when kids lose a baby tooth, if it's a lower tooth they throw it onto the roof, to induce the following tooth to grow healthily upward; accordingly, an upper tooth is thrown under the house. There is no tooth fairy and the untoothed kids don't get any money, just the comfort of knowing that they are important members of the household and that their elders care about their future.
But now that so many people in Japan live in big-city apartments where there is no under the house, and the roof - way up there, forget it - the tooth fairy is making rapid inroads, as in Kaya's case: the tooth fairy left her a 100-yen coin that she carries in her pocket and shows off whenever anyone asks about her new smile, absent the front tooth that took a few days to fully detach and drove her little twin sisters to distraction.
So Kaya is becoming new as she has always been doing, but physical signs like this are more of a twinge to me than my ongoing background awareness of the fact. In counterbalance, her smile is every bit as newly sweet now, despite that little pain of passing it generates in me somewhere, and I trust, as I do in all honest and natural things, that this pang is a small price to pay for the beauty that follows.