Friday, March 1, 2013

Milestone - Lost Tooth

Teagan is a late bloomer - just like her mom.

I don't remember exactly but it may have been second grade before I lost my first tooth.  And I am pretty sure I was the last kid in my class to lose a tooth.

Teagan is in 2nd grade.  She is 2 weeks away from her 8th birthday.  Until this week, only 2 kids in her class hadn't lost their first tooth - Teagan and another little boy (who lost his first tooth at lunch on Weds).

Monday evening, Teagan bit into a cheese stick and realized that her tooth was loose.  Thursday morning, that tooth fell out on its own.

That's the facts only short story.

Here's the rest of the story.

Teagan's anxiety has taken a big uptick in the past couple of weeks.  At the flip of a switch, she will be in meltdown mode - sometimes intensely sad, sometimes incredibly angry.  The words that she finds to express her feelings come out in loops of jumbled emotions.  "I feel like everyone at school is perfect and there is soemthing wrong with my brain.  I feel like everyone at school knows something I don't.  I feel like they don't see me the way I see me."

We created a Worry Box.  If she is worried about something, she can write it down, put it in the box, and when she wakes in the morning, her worry will be gone.  It's worked great for other kids.  Not for my kid.

We have great concern about one of her friendships since a lot of the anxiety and trouble tends to somehow involve this other girl.  But we can't make her friendships for her, only try to guide her in how to make her best choices.  We do encourage her to keep other friends in mind, to walk away from this girl, to focus on friendships where she feels good about herself.  We try to teach her that how she feels on the inside when she is with someone will help her know if that person is a good friend, if she is able to be a good friend to them.

I have even incorporated some homeopathic things to help with anxiety and stress - Bach's Rescue Remedy and some essential oils/aromatherapy.  Even if these just end up providing her with a psychosomatic positive response, I'm ok with that.  The aromatherapy is a blend of essential oils that we put on her wrists, like a roller ball perfume.  Last night, I went to check on her before I went to bed.  She was starting to get restless and upset in her sleep.  I gently said "Remember to smell your wrist" and moved her wrist to her nose... and she inhaled and relaxed.

When she discovered her tooth was finally loose, there was a moment of excitement on her face and then it turned into tears and upset because she "didn't know it was going to hurt!"

But when that tooth came out on Thursday morning with no pulling, no pain, no issues... she BEAMED.  I could see this level of anxiety lift off of her.  There were tears of relief.  There was a huge smile that wouldn't leave her face.

She had been feeling like she was "less than" because she hadn't lost a tooth yet.

She had been scared of loosing this tooth because it might hurt, the experience was unknown.

She had been feeling like everyone else already knew what it was like to lose a tooth and have the tooth fairy come and visit.

She had been feeling like she wasn't as "grown up" as her friends.

She's has separation anxiety when it comes to spending the night away from home.  With one family, her friend is very supportive and understanding.  With another family (one where we don't know the family as well), the friend gets angry with Teagan, the little brother makes fun of her... and I think having not lost a tooth and not being able to spend the night away from home has left Teagan feeling like "a baby."

I've been focusing on finding ways to provide a lot of positive affirmation for my daughter.  She likes to push limits and have extreme emotions so it is often challenging to parent her because I feel like the interactions are more often negative and disciplinary instead of fun and loving.  But I'm trying to stay focused on positive, loving, fun interactions.

This "first tooth lost" milestone is about way more than losing a tooth.  I didn't realize how much anxiety and negative emotion my daughter was holding in that tiny little tooth.  She holds in all of her emotions until they bubble over in fits of anger or sadness or meanness.  I don't think she can yet find the words for what she is feeling and why and how those feelings impact her choices, her experiences.

And I guess that's one of the great challenges of parenting.  Guiding our kids through that first lost tooth and realizing how much more it really means.



Karen M. Peterson said...

I really feel for Teagan. I've had severe anxiety since I was a kid and it's really hard. But she's lucky to have a mom that knows what she's going through and that's trying to help her through it, rather than just telling her to "suck it up."

I'm glad she finally lost that tooth and that it's helped her feel more part of the group.

Garret said...

Tell her she lost her anxiety tooth and now that it's gone she won't have to worry. Tell her you researched it. :-)

Hugs to you!

Katherine said...

The small things are never small. You recognizing that for your daughter is just wonderful!