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A scream….footsteps…I spring to my feet looking in all directions as my heartbeat increases to meet the urgency of the distress. I quickly walk to the back door of my Montessori preschool classroom. Before I get there, in rushes an assistant ushering in a frightened little one. With blood on his lower lip and tears streaming down his face, I understand at once that the previous fun of his loose tooth has turned its own corner. From fun to frightened after another boy’s elbow found his mouth while playing.
The handoff from assistant to teacher is complete and I grab a cup of cold water and ice pack. I hope to help alleviate the blood flow and even a bit of the pain. Still crying hysterically, I guide the wounded soldier into a chair all the while hearing through the sobs, “I don’t like this.” We chat briefly about how growing up is exciting and sometimes a challenge. When I hear him say once again through loud sobs and short, rapid breaths, “But I don’t like this,” my mindfulness tool belt magically appears before my eyes.
This young man has practiced deep breathing and meditation with his classmates throughout this school year, so when I ask him to take a deep breath in, I watch him close his eyes. This alone makes me smile. Before closing mine, I ask him if he’d like us to hold hands while we breathe together. He nods, eyes still shut and I follow suit. We breathe in unison; his tears stop flowing and his breath lengthens.
Opening our eyes, I ask him if he’d like to try a new strategy to help him stay with this peaceful feeling inside. Having our breath work be such a success, he readily agrees. I teach him how to do the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), otherwise known as tapping. We go through the process together, saying things like, “Even though my tooth is falling out and I don’t like it, I am okay” and “Even though I don’t like the feeling in my mouth right now, I am safe.”
Somewhere in there… I had phoned his mother to pick him up (about 15 minutes early) and she is now at the door. In my experience, when an upset person appears calm and then sees a loved one, the floodgates start or reoccur. That’s what I’ve done in the past myself! To my surprise, this was not the case. He ran to his mom and hugged her, just holding on to his pure first love, feeling the safety of her embrace.
I’d like to think the breathing and tapping put him into such a peaceful space that he not only felt safe and okay, but truly felt it. I’m still smiling….