Anxiety, The Tooth, and Me.

Yesterday I left the school in tears after dropping off my daughter.

She’s in kindergarten, at an age where school is fun.  She has hopped out of the car announcing “I love you Mommy!” every day since school started.  Yesterday was different.  Way different. We started off the day off kilter to begin with.  My Pinterestmom days are waning, and sadly, I am getting back to my old chaotic ways.  (I clearly need to work on this, but I admit, PinterestMomming, the act of having it all together and picturesque, is damned tiring, while my normal ways make me anxious.  More of this in another upcoming blog).  We were running late, and my son forgot a lot of items, making us more late, and me more stressed about being late.  Every time we’re late the principal gives me “the face”.  I don’t know why I care about what she thinks, and I hate the fact I feel red faced shame when I am late, but I do.  I guess it’s the perceived disapproval of my parenting skills. Normally that look sparks rage in me, but hers makes me feel like I have failed somehow.  Anywho, we got to school about 3 minutes late, which requires me to walk the little one in per school rules.

We headed in, as I said good bye to the boy.  The principal was at the door, but she was busy talking to someone.  This ended up causing chaos, as the staff became concerned as to whether or not to mark my daughter tardy, and did she need a pass?  There was several minutes of waiting while they discussed this, and she was finally told she should go to class.  That’s when it happened.  The little one had a full on, batshit meltdown of epic proportions. She cried, she wailed, she began to scream.  “Don’t go!  Don’t leave me Mommy!” she cried. I stood stunned.  She has never had a problem with separation.  The principal told me to go, and that she would calm her down and get her to class.  The little one wanted no part of it.  I saw her head pop around the principal’s shoulder (who was kneeling down trying to calm my daughter) as she begged me not to leave.  Her little face, with her little glasses…it looked so vulnerable, so fragile.  For a brief moment, Sandy Hook popped into my mind. Sandy Hook is close in proximity to us, and when it happened, I had a 6 year old in another school.  I knew what a 6 year old sounded like, giggled like, smelled like. It hit very close to home, not only in physical proximity, but in mental proximity.  For all my hard exterior, I still cannot think about that day, and those families without crying.  Especially because of that incident, I am mindful of always try to leave the kids with a loving goodbye.   The panic on her face made me want to take her with me.  I know, deep in my heart, that doing that would probably teach her the wrong lesson, but it doesn’t change the fact I sure thought about it.  I told her I loved her, got in the car, and cried.

I went to work, and I thought about it some more, and I cried silently at my desk.

Did I tell you that despite the fact people think I am kind of hard shelled and “British” stiff upper lip, I am really a big sentimental sap who cries quite a bit?

Yesterday was a bad morning, but the day before, when my husband had taken her to school, was bad too.  It has been a rough week for dropoffs.  I tried to chat with her about it last night.  She said it was the tooth that made her do it.  Her first loose tooth came about this week, and while it’s super wiggly, it’s hanging on.  The little one, for all her determination to be independent and a big kid, gets anxious when big kid things happen without her consent, such as having to start school, or losing a tooth.  She admitted she is terrified she will lose the tooth (“It’s ok, we’ll write the tooth fairy a letter.  She has ways of finding the teeth that go missing”, I responded.)  or that she might swallow it (“it’ll come out eventually, but the tooth fairy says it’s ok to let that one go”).  Blood was a concern.  I reminded her that there would likely be little no blood, and we talked about that one time, how she got a bloody nose, and she was just fine after. (Secretly, the tooth is a reminder of how big she is getting, and I kind of resent it.  On the other hand, the stress of it coming out is making her so upset that I’ll be glad when it finally does and she sees it’s ok. The tooth is not my friend.)  She seemed confident after our chat last night, and I thought we had made improvements.  I felt good, and she seemed to as well.

I spoke to my dad, and I told him about what had happened.  I explained that while the boy seems to grasp things on the first try, the little one needs a bit more time with some concepts.  I’m ok with this, and I try to find ways to help her when she struggles with grasping something.  What sits in the back of my mind is that I really hope she will like school.  She may have more challenges in school than her brother, so I am hopeful that she at least enjoys it.  If she at least enjoys school, perhaps the challenges will seem lesser. Perhaps she will zoom through school without an issue, and that would be great.  Regardless,  I want her to have the best opportunities and chances at a good education, and being comfortable in her environment is an important first step.  I held hope that our chat had served us well and that it would be better in the morning.

I turned on the news, and saw the Oregon school shooting.  I thought about the situation in the morning and her face, tiny and with her little glasses on, looking scared and begging me not to leave.  I lost it again.  It is devastating to me that one can’t send their kids to school without fear of them not coming home.  It breaks my heart that families across America are going through these shootings, year after year, and it seems to be becoming more commonplace.  It terrifies me that no end to them seems to be in sight. It makes me yearn for some sense of control of my environment, yet I know that when it comes to these occurrences and the senseless violence, no amount of control will help.

Today, the kids woke up with a smile.  They have me sing them a song every morning to wake them up.  I warble off key, with words that often don’t rhyme, and tickle and hug them awake.  They love it, and frankly so do I.  I spent a little more time enjoying those moments, the events of yesterday lingering in my mind. We got to school, and it seemed to be going well…right up until she had to walk to school, and the tears started to roll down her cheeks. I gave her an extra hug.  I gave her an extra kiss, and reminded her I wanted her to have a great day.  I told her I loved her.  Then I drove away, a fat tear running down my cheek.

I called the school nurse. I’m not normally a helicopter mom by any stretch, but I need reinforcements. We talked about the tooth.  We talked about the tears, the fears, and how I was worrying.  She is going to check on her, from a distance, throughout the day.  We will get her through this.  I think the nurse wants to help ME get through this.  In this big scary world, all I can do is love those kids, and have their back.  Maybe it’s separation anxiety, maybe it’s the darned tooth.  Maybe it’s a feeling of being overwhelmed, but whatever it is, we’ll get through it.

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