So I’m doing a little internal mom dance because—I’ve ticked off my final tooth milestone as a parent! Not that I’m keeping score; but I’ve gone three times round the cutting teeth track, three trips down the loose tooth-lost tooth- tooth fairy trail, 3 bouts of braces, and now my third and final time nursing a teetering-on-adult child through wisdom teeth removal.
It’s been a journey- times three. So many awesome moments! The thrill of seeing those first teeth poke through! The anticipation of having those same teeth fall out, or having those braces finally off. (And, let’s be honest, that final ortho payment!!)
A NEW TRIP EVERY TIME But as a mom of three I experienced, over and over again, that just because I’d been through a milestone with one child, didn’t mean I was any more prepared to do it again next time around. Our kids are very different, so each of my daughters’ teeth experiences were unique. Where one breezed through cutting molars, another spiked crazy fevers and developed a rash. One child attacked any baby tooth that threatened to be wiggly with obsessive intention. While another one battled tooth-losing anxiety; leaving teeth dangling from her gums like Chiclets.
SURVIVING THE MESSY ONES But milestones should be celebrated… right? Let’s be honest, some are surprisingly messy. Uncomfortable. Painful. As an Early Childhood Educator I came into parenting armed with a list of how-to’s for successfully steering a child through growth and development. As a mother, I experienced, over and over again, that my daughters obviously were not consulted with this list. I had to accept that, sometimes, in order to make it to the other side, you have to think on your feet, throw away that list, and even break a few of your Well, I would never do that rules. Because when you and your child are stuck in the middle of a messy milestone, just like in THE BEAR HUNT, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it- you gotta go through it! And the right way to survive a messy milestone- is whatever way you can!
So what do you do, when a milestone isn’t going according to plan?
ACCEPT SUPPORT I mean real, non-judgy support, from friends or family who might not have the answers but do have some time to listen and maybe even an extra hand to help you out. Let your friend come by to give you a hand. Take your mother-in-law up on the offer to help. You need to be at your best when going through a difficult milestone. Because, just like in an emergency flight, you have to put the oxygen on yourself first, before you help someone else. And when things calm down (and they will!) it can be your turn to help your friend pick up the pieces.
FIND ADVICE THAT WORKS FOR YOU Look for advice, from books, from parenting sites, from friends. But you have to sift through this advice to find the tips that work for you. You already know how sleeping through the night or toileting is supposed to go. You need help getting through your child’s unique experience. And although no one has been through the exact thing, a tip here or there that you can tweak a bit can be the perfect fit for you.
My Top Tooth Tips that I found most helpful are:
TEETHING– Wet a baby facecloth and stick it in the freezer. It’s a great teether!
WIGGLY TEETH– For those wanting relief or a little help getting that tooth out, fold a piece of paper towel and wet it. Biting on this is soothing for those who hate that ‘wiggling feeling’, and it can be just the trick to having that tooth finally let go.
BRACES: Have their favorite soft foods ready, for up to three days after each tightening. And when they first go on, be prepared for some insecurity. It’s a tough age, and adding braces can make your pre-teen/teen even more self-conscious. (I always found that a little retail therapy was much appreciated at this stage!)
WISDOM TEETH: Plan it well! They are going to need 2 weeks before they recover. This can be challenging when dealing with graduations, summer jobs or starting school. I made the huge mistake of not planning enough time for healing and sent my daughter off to collage with an ice pack and pain medication.
DANCE IN THE RAIN Vivian Green said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Parenting is a journey of maneuvering our children from one milestone to another. We have to steal some joy in the bad times, along with enjoying the good times. I’ve endured some pretty scary nights, with a child who is sick and suffering. Yes, I am upset that my daughter feels so sick, but in this moment I am so grateful she is snuggling into me. I’ve been surprised at myself, even felt guilty at times, that during a crisis I’ve laughed- at the most absurd thing. Give yourself permission to find a moment of joy in a bad situation. It can honestly clear the air, ease the tension, and give you the extra breath you need to keep going.
And while I’m at it, eat, and sleep. Don’t be a parenting martyr and ignore self-care because you are temporarily stuck in a tough milestone with your child. Taking time for self-care not only gives you the strength you need to parent during trying times, it also models for your child that self care is an imperative part of maintaining strong mental and physical health.
FIND SUPPORT IN LITERACY for you and your child. Nothing relieves a mind more than hearing that other people have survived a similar situation (or one much worse). You not only gain advice from literary support, you also feel the reassurance that you are not alone in your struggle.
Pick your milestone and you will find books to help you and your child.
My new favorite book on the losing-teeth topic is:
WADE’S WIGGLY ANTLERS written by Louise Bradford and awesomely illustrated by MY TEACHER’S NOT HERE!’s Christine Battuz (Kids Can Press) https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/?keywords=Wade%27s%20Wiggly%20Antlers#internal=1
It’s about a young moose named Wade who notices that his antlers are loose!
readlearnrepeat.blog recently listed some great books “All About Teeth” I really like the non fiction:
THE TOOTH BOOK: A GUIDE TO HEALTHY TEETH AND GUMS by Edward Miller (Holiday House) https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-tooth-book-a-guide/9780823422067-item.html?ikwid=the+tooth+book&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=4