What a bitter sweet moment is is for us when our child loses that first tooth. It is such an exciting moment, a clear message that they have moved from babyhood. And yet, to see with our own eyes that our baby is growing up is sometimes tinged with sadness for us. Independence follows and the realization for our child that they are an individual soul, separate from us. it is what we are ultimately here for, but who can experience the joys of watching our child grow into the beautiful adult they are meant to be without feeling that pang of missing the baby they once were?
Please welcome Arianne who shares the story of when her sweet boy lost his first tooth.
“Ow!” My six-year-old son, Sam, exclaimed after biting into a giant golden apple.
“My tooth hurts!”
He ran over to me and opened wide, pointing to a tiny tooth on the bottom of his smile.
“It’s loose!” I exclaimed, wiggling the little thing back and forth.
After assuring Sam that having this part of him fall out and grow in anew was perfectly normal, he ran off to play with his oak building blocks.
Losing one’s first baby tooth was normal, yes. But at the same time, it was so significant. This truth reached beyond what I could convey to my little one. I felt at once a thrill of excitement and a pang of sadness.
Ina child generally isn’t considered ready for learning to read until that first little tooth starts wiggling. This came as no surprise to me as a parent. Sam was much more interested in fairy tales and imaginative play than in academic lessons. Forcing him would be damaging, I knew. So I gave him the space to play. I considered myself steward of his magic years, guardian of the kingdom of his early childhood.
Around the time my little guy’s tooth started wiggling, he taught himself to read. I was amazed at this change in him. But the significance of the firstis so much bigger than a reading lesson. It was as if Sam wasn’t growing up, but growing down from someplace heavenly. Now his toes were just starting to touch ground.
Waldorf educators believe in late reading instruction because the first few years of a child’s life are dedicated to physical development. They master monumental tasks like learning how to crawl, walk, run, speak, and think. The change of teeth can, along with other indicators, show that the first stages of body building are complete. The energy that was put into growing can now be directed at learning.
What does that mean? I wondered after discovering Sam’s loose tooth. What would I be letting go of? What would I be welcoming?
It was four months before that little tooth finally popped out. In that time my son filled my days with questions about how things work, how he fits into the greater world, about life and death. He really was going through a rapid transition, it seemed, where the magic of his early years was lifting. He was entering an expansive period where his love for learning ignited.
He smiled a sweet grin as he held his little tooth above his head to show it off to his younger siblings and dad.
I sewed him a special tooth pillow for the occasion. Mr. Tooth is actually a pocket, made of felt. My son tucked his tooth in the pillow and woke up to four quarters in its place. We’re thinking of using them to buy seeds to plant this spring. I can think of nothing more fitting than a little “tooth garden” to grow with my growing boy–a natural reminder of the fleeting beauty of early childhood.
My son would now be considered ready for Waldorf first grade. He can eat, drink, wash, and use the toilet on his own. He’s developing hand-eye coordination. He can finger knit, button clothing, climb stairs, and hop on one foot. And, yes, he’s lost that significant first tooth.
As I slipped those quarters in his tooth pillow, I thought of all this. I looked over at my son, sleeping on his bunk bed. I stood on my tip toes to kiss his forehead.
“Goodbye, little one,” I whispered as a tear slipped down my cheek.
But the next morning I sat on the couch downstairs, excitedly waiting to greet my curious, wide-eyed, bigger child.
Sam ran down to me with open arms. I threw mine open to meet him.
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Aah, I know those sentiments so well. Thank you for sharing, Arianne. What a sweet little toothless darling you have… Congratulations on sharing his special moment with him.
Arianne has a beautiful blog called Still Parenting that you’ll love. It is truly a beautiful place.
Here are the other articles in the Discovering Waldorf Series.
Blessings and magic,