Getting Miles ready in the morning is never easy. He wants to do everything himself, but literally everything he does underscores just how much help he needs (which he loudly rejects, and on and on it goes). This morning, while he was “brushing his teeth,” I said, in desperation, “Miles, you need to brush ALL of your teeth so you don’t get cavities.”
I was a little surprised when he quickly relented and just let me do the work. A few minutes later, when we were on the way to school, Miles said, “Daddy…is I’m gonna get cavities?” The tone of his voice let me know that not only was he fretting about the very idea of getting a cavity, but that he had been thinking about it since we left the house.
“Not necessarily,” I assured him. “At least, not if you make sure your teeth stay clean.”
After arriving at school, I realized I had made a critical oversight. “Uh-oh,” I said. “Looks like we forgot your book bag.”
Looking to the seat beside him, where his bag would normally sit until we got out of the car, and finding nothing, Miles dejectedly slid out of his car seat. “Awww.”
“Well to be perfectly honest,” I joked, “I think you bear some of the responsibility here. After all, it isn’t MY book bag.”
After worrying about tooth decay and now facing a day without his book bag, Miles didn’t find the humor in the situation. He entered his classroom looking like he had just stepped foot on alien soil, as though his entire world was unrecognizable.
Realizing that Miles need a slight recalibration going into the day, I spent a couple extra minutes with him. First, I got assurances from his teacher that he wouldn’t need his book bag (“Aw, that’s okay, I’m sure you’ll remember it tomorrow!” she told him after his deflated, “I forgot my book bag”). Then, before I left, we hugged, fist-bumped, high-fived, and kissed more times than usual (the process Miles calls “my thing”). I feel like he ultimately rebounded and was ready to face the day, but man…self-awareness, anxiety, and neuroses really start to develop and interact early.