And this is why you go to the dentist alone

Going to the dentist isn’t one of those things people usually look forward to-the poking, the prodding, the look of disdain on the dental hygenist’s face when you “roughly estimate” how many times you floss each week…it’s just not necessarily a comfortable experience. You have to sit there with your mouth open while weird tools are stuck in there, and did you ever notice that the hygenists seem to carry on conversations with you as if you might actually be in the position to respond?

 

The weird thing about me (or one of them) is that I LOVE the dentist. I always have. But since I became a mom, this is like a soulful retreat to me. Just hear me out: I am required, for an entire half hour, to lie down in a relatively comfortable chair. My dentist provides pillows, and there I sit the entire time in peace and quiet. I cannot get up. Someone else is taking care of me. Would I like a spray of water? Sure. What flavor toothpaste would you like today, Katie? Well, cinnamon of course! While there,  I cannot provide small children snacks. I cannot break up fights over the remote control. And the main reason for that, my friends, is that MY CHILDREN ARE NOT THERE!

 

Until last week, this was my impression of the dentist. Once every six months, I would charge right in there with a huge smile on my face and tell them to take their ever loving time, because this mama needed a break. Except, unfortunately, dentists don’t ONLY provide cleanings. Last week I had to experience one of the less pleasant services they offered which was an emergency repairing of the cap on a lower front tooth. If you’re interested, my brother knocked that sucker out when I was nine by elbowing me in the face on the way up the stairs to eat chicken wings. I had no chicken wings that night. I suppose it’s water under the bridge since it was 25 years ago and I don’t even eat chicken anymore, but I am still a little salty about it. So anyway, that cap lasted me a good long time until I decided to have yogurt for breakfast one day, and somehow it chipped while I was spooning it into my mouth. You gotta watch out for that yogurt, folks.

I called my dentist to see when they might be able to fit me in, and much to my surprise they had an appointment that very afternoon. I considered this only briefly, as I had the kids with me, however, my vanity took precedence over lack of childcare, and I decided I was not walking around with a chipped tooth for more than 24 hours if I could help it.

Because I’m an incredibly smart and organized parent, I packed the ipad, some crayons, and some snacks for my children in hopes that they would sit quietly during this process. The dentist and his assistant did not seem to mind that I had my cute cherubs in tow, as they are also patients of his, and they usually come well behaved to their appointments.

I got both kids settled: Ella was in a rolly chair in the corner watching an inappropriate show that I know would keep her occupied for a long amount of time. Harrison found a spot under a table in the hallway to color. Then, I settled myself in the nice chair and let them start getting to work. I’m a big baby, so they had to start with some Novacane. Once I was reasonably numb and drooling, Dr. Andrews started his work. There was some drilling, and some maneuvering, and some placing of  objects in my mouth to which I didn’t really pay attention. After all, I was all relaxed in my quiet place. And then, I hear my son come up to the dentist and say, “Dr. Andrews, do you have a blue crayon?” For the love of everything good, this child interrupted a man fixing my face to ask him for a crayon. I was mortified. My children mortify me a lot but not usually when I have a mouth full of dental tools and the lack of use of the left side of my face. My eyes got scary big and I glared at my child. I could hear the assistant giggle. She sent Harrison off to the reception desk to find a blue crayon. I didn’t hear from him again. Everyone got composed once again and focused on the task at hand. The dentist was literally just about to put the tooth stuff on to make my tooth whole again (plaster? cement? I have no idea what they use) when all of a sudden, a huge crash came from the corner of the room. A rolly chair went flying against the wall, a flash of pink soared above our heads, and screaming ensued. It turns out that the flash of pink was my ipad, which Ella had launched when she somehow managed to fall out of her chair. Everyone jumped up and was in a flurry about my poor child falling–except me. Seriously, guys. She falls all.the.time. I looked at them all and was like, “What? She’ll get up.” But actually me and my mouthful of dental equipment had to get up and put my child right side up again before anyone would proceed. She was scared out of her mind, I was annoyed, and the dentist was probably worried about liability. After she settled herself down (on the floor this time; chairs were out of the question), we were back in business.

The dentist was so out of sorts that he kept looking over at my kid to make sure she wasn’t going to have another accident. I do not know how he managed to complete the process of fixing my tooth, but he did, and we were out of there. I’m sure the entire staff was happy to see us go. But not before one more accident.

At the checkout counter, I was paying a somewhat reasonable cost for this endeavor, when the nice lady behind the desk pointed to a box of stickers and told my children that they could each have one. Not being exactly calm or polite, both kids reached for the cardboard box at once, causing all of the stickers to unravel on their rolls all through the waiting area.

“Oh my God.” I yelled. “DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE.”

My children thought that several spools of runaway stickers were hilarious. The receptionists were ready to go home and have a glass of wine. I still couldn’t feel my face and here I was crawling around on the floor chasing stickers.

I no longer know if I can ever consider the dentist a sanctuary, but I do know that I will not make an appointment when I do not have a sitter for my kids!

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When They’re Hardest to Love, Love Them the Hardest

This summer has been full of growth for both of my babies. Harrison learned to ride his bicycle without training wheels at the very beginning of the season. He also has mastered swimming without swimmies, and even Ella is independent in the water. I can allow them to go outside and play and not have to hover over their every move like I did last year. I really thought that I’d be so happy when they needed me less, but to be honest, it makes me hug them tighter and hold them longer when they do end up in my arms.


As with all major growth spurts, the emotions are running wild within my children. Ella has always been quite dramatic and it doesn’t much shock us when she throws an epic temper tantrum or squeals with delight about something that excites her. But Harrison is usually a little more predictable and even-keeled. Today, however, was one of those days where that was not the case.

 

Today’s forecast was perfect to be near the water, so we set out to spend our entire day at a local swimming pool. Harrison could not be satisfied with any situation. If he was in the pool alone, he wanted us in there. If he had his swimmies on, he wanted them off. If it was snack time, he wanted to be in the water. This carried on all afternoon. At one point, he approached Justin, whining about some indiscretion he wanted amended, and knocked over Justin’s drink. We were annoyed; the drink was just purchased, and Harrison didn’t even seem to care that he had done it. Several minutes later, Harrison was swimming independently when he got spooked and started to go under. Luckily Justin was close by and literally saved the kid from drowning. After Harrison was safely on the ledge of the pool, he proceeded to yell and scream at Justin for saving him. Following this incident, Harrison decided to join Justin and Ella in the hot tub where he, once again, knocked over Justin’s drink. Then he got in the water and started hitting Ella for literally no reason. It was at this point that we decided it was time to save the peaceful day for the rest of the pool patrons and head home. Harrison was banished to his room (we knew he would fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion, and within minutes, he was out cold).

 

Once he woke up, I had a quiet little talk with him about how he needs to learn to monitor his feelings, and if he starts to feel like he’s going to be angry he needed to use his words to tell me that so we could talk through the situation. Everything was fine for an hour or so until after dinner when Harrison was angry that he got to watch a whole episode of television that he didn’t really want to watch (yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either). Again the screaming ensued. The child refused to brush his teeth and getting him to get into bed was another story all together. By the time I got done tidying up, Harrison was still whimpering in his bed. This, at least, was a step up from the howling that was previously being used to express his feelings. I lay down beside him and wrapped him up in my arms and just held him.

 

We didn’t talk about his inappropriate behavior. We didn’t talk about what to do next time. I wasn’t exactly sure if I should be giving him so much affection after all of his antics, but then I remembered how sometimes we all run on empty and we need someone to fill up our metaphorical cups. I had a strange feeling that Harrison was running low on whatever he needs to be his happy sweet self, and so I just tried to fill him up with my love.  Although it seemed counterproductive, giving that kid some extra affection was exactly what he needed to recenter himself. We stayed there for several minutes, and eventually he reached for my hand and held it in his own. I noticed that his hands aren’t quite as small as they used to be, and I began to reminisce about all of the years between this one and the year he was born. I thought about all of the times when things were tough and I didn’t think I was ever going to get this parenting thing down. Six years in, I am no expert. But I did learn something really important today. Sometimes, when they’re the hardest to love, you have to love them the hardest.

 

After a while I looked down and saw his little smile, several teeth gone to the tooth fairy by now. He giggled when he looked up at me and said, “It feels nice to snuggle with you, Mommy.”

 

For now, I know he is still my little boy. I know there’s going to be so many more days where he’s hard to love. Six years has taught me how to love stronger and harder, although that makes the ache of my babies growing up all the more intense.IMG-4056