My lifetime of dentistry has been far from fun. I was always "that kid" who had those "deep grooves" in my teeth which were prone to "sticky situations" leading to cavities. I was also blessed with what I now understand to be "phase 1 AND 2" of orthodontic work. I started going when I was 8 and ended when I was 17. As an adult I have come to the conclusion that giving birth is more enjoyable than the scraping and poking of my poor and precious teeth.
So now you have my history.
When it came to bringing my own children to the dentist I was far from enthused. However, I needed to put on a happy face so they would think it was fun and exciting. Before Mikayla's first visit six months ago I spoke to her about the exciting passage into becoming a dentist going girl... "OOOO you get prizes! Yes you get to sit in your own chair! You get to pick the flavor of your tooth paste! A prize will be yours at the end! What color tooth brush will you pick!?" Happy dance... smiling... all the while cringing inside at the very thought of her laying silently and letting someone touch her teeth.
The appointment came and went and she did an amazing job. I had nothing to fear and when they asked me if Nolan would like a back to back appointment the next time Mikayla came in I didn't hesitate to accept. My rationale being it would be better to introduce him early on and since Mikayla is such a champ it would be a walk in the park. Excuse me... what!?
And then we come to today.
Normally preparation is the key to success for Mikayla. She is the type of kid who likes to know what is going to happen and why and how. Despite that fact, I didn't feel the need to prepare her with the dentist happy dance and words of adoration because:
- With her memory she would remember everything including how "fun" it was
- I forgot
- She did great last time
- Life is chaos and I forgot
- No big deal
- It will work like clock work
Our name was called and with my excited words of "hooray it's our turn" Mikayla followed me into the back. As we headed into the exam room Mikayla stopped and refused to go in. Wrangling Nolan, diaper bag and clipboard with most pages still not filled out, I was not physically or mentally prepared for her refusal. Thankfully the sweet hygienist got her in with "let's pick out a toothbrush." As I sat in the seat next to the dentist chair waiting for Mikayla to choose her toothbrush "Mama there are too many choices!" I took a deep breath and was thankful for Beauty and the Beast playing in perfect view. Then she wouldn't sit on the chair. And nothing would get her there except for me. And so with both kids sitting on my lap (Nolan squirming) we tried to coax Mikayla to open her mouth for the "chocolate" tooth paste. Not happening... she wanted brother to go first. The hygienist left to go talk to the dentist and I frantically filled out the rest of the paperwork.
|After his cleaning|
Back to the other room we went (why, I do not know) and again Mikayla refused to get in the chair. I got back on, both kids in lap, dentist at the ready with determined "don't mess with me kid" look on his face. And then within about 30 seconds the following... Mikayla wouldn't open her mouth, dentist tried to "help" her which I knew in an instant was not the way to go, she started to scream, Nolan started to scream, hygienist took Nolan to be helpful which made his scream louder, Mikayla screamed like no one's business, I grabbed Nolan back, firmly told the dentist we were leaving and would come back another time when I was without Nolan. Headache pounding, kids whimpering, dentist and hygienist staring, dentist offering "she just wants to control the situation" UM SHE IS 4... we left.
Of course as a mother having my brain and depression still in the picture, the following had been running through my mind during those 30 awful seconds. "I don't want her to be traumatized by this, she will never come back without screaming, I'm not having her teeth cleaned by force, my children are screaming so loud, why isn't my child listening, why isn't she perfect, what if I'm not parenting her correctly, this is my fault, what should I be doing differently, what will these people think of me".... and it goes on and on.
After making it to the van and shedding a few of my own "OMG THAT WAS AWFUL" tears, I decided we would head to the park. "Why are we going to the park mommy?" "Because, unlike that visit to the dentist, we are going to have fun!" Mikayla giggled and the high standards I held on myself and on her melted in the joy that filled her face.
So how do we go forward? I'm definitely instituting a one child - one parent ratio for all dentist visits going forward for at least a few years.
Our experience was another in-your-face reminder of this thing we call life. It's not perfect, we are not perfect, and we are doing the best we can. Letting go of judgement on myself, letting go of the judgement others may be giving and just moving through each step with the ease of an elephant on point shoes... bumbling, falling, but getting up again... is what I have to do.
Ironically I have a filling tonight. Thankfully it will be alone...
|They keep me on my toes|
|Turning the day around|