When my daughter was born you couldn’t see there was anything different about her. Everything seemed present and correct and all in the right places.
But then I was the same when I came into the world.
So it was impossible to tell if I had passed on the cursèd gene.
However, one year into her life and it is has become clear that my daughter has inherited my affliction. Two left feet.
And now the evidence is staring me in the face whenever she smiles at me… with half her front tooth missing.
To a parent, their child will always look perfect. But they truly are closer to perfection at the start of their life. Their skin so smooth and unmarked. Their teeth so pearly white.
Fresh out of the box, they are so shiny and new and untarnished.
Looking down at the battleground that is my body all I can think is, “The poor little little mite doesn’t stand a chance.”
My knees are covered in the scars of trips and falls spanning three decades. My hips are littered with bruises from the numerous times I have bumped into doors, chairs and the pushchair over the past week. My hands are branded with burns from various mishaps with the oven or potato peeler.
My daughter’s knees are always bruised now, the result of crawling doggedly over anything that gets in her way – from wooden blocks with sharp corners, to gravel and stones. Her forehead and nose often tell a tale of bumps into tables or tumbles over piles of toys.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that her own mother is prone to clonking her head on the odd doorframe if we have to dash for a nappy-change, she is just as prone to clonking herself in the face with her cup or a book.
We’ve already been through the trauma of the A&E dash after I tripped over in the street while wearing her in the baby-carrier, and narrowly avoided crushing her beneath me. She escaped with a grazed face, while I bear fresh physical scars on my knees and raw emotional scars that prevented me ever using the sling again.
Together, we are a recipe for disaster. As Bath Time after a long, tiring, First Birthday weekend proved.
Having spent the day tidying up the house, playing with her new toys and eating leftover cake, we were both feeling shattered.
She didn’t want her hair dried, but she did want to stand up against the side of the bath. So, for an easy life, I let her, while I hurried to dry her hair and get her pyjamas on so we could all go to bed.
But she really didn’t want her hair dried, and she suddenly pulled her head away from me with all her might.
There was the most almighty bang, which echoed through the bathroom and shook me to the core.
I grabbed her and pulled her close to me, at the same time desperately trying to peer at her and work out where she was hurt.
Her face contorted in agony and that terrifying silence before her first shriek of pain seemed to last for an eternity.
I could see no blood. I could see no obvious bump.
Then there in her wide open mouth, on her outstretched tongue, I saw it – glinting like a gemstone, a bright white shard of tooth that appeared, to me, to be monumental in size.
And then she started to howl.
Her cries didn’t last that long. And within minutes she was all smiles again, tears still trickling down her cheeks.
The next morning I rushed her off to the dentist.
As I unfolded the sandwich bag in which I had kept the lost fragment of tooth, it suddenly seemed a lot smaller than I remembered.
“I’m not sure I can do anything with that,” sighed the dentist.
The verdict is that the point is very sharp. But as my daughter went from smiling and waving, to screaming as soon as the dentist put her white gloves on (an irrational phobia in action), there is no point risking further injury by pinning her down and trying to file it off.
And eventually her milk tooth will fall out and she’ll grow a new one.
The night it happened I lay awake, wracked with guilt and What Ifs and If Onlys.
But I’ve stopped beating myself up over it now. We’ve both got enough bumps and bruises already.