The girls had a dentist appointment the other day. Both have a somewhat justifiable fear of the tooth doctor. Reagan has already had pretty extensive work done and has some more work to be done in her future. Thank you, genes. It’s understandable that she would be nervous. When Ashlyn visited the dentist for the first time she cried a lot. Just because she cries a lot. I know kids fear the unknown, especially when the unknown is an unknown man or woman sticking their unknown fingers in her mouth, poking and prodding in previously unknown ways. Maybe we should have played “dentist” a little before her first visit.
Thusly, their mother has developed a fear of taking the girls to the dentist. I’m not one to normally feel too sympathetic about these medical issues with kids either. It’s interesting to me when parents lament about getting their babies shots (especially toddlers) because they feel so bad they have to put their babies through that suffering. I’ve been of the mindset that the kid isn’t going to feel it even one minute later. They’ll get over it, and the little babies won’t even remember it. Just be there for the kid after the fact. And that’s how I was taking them to their dentist visits last year. Just go in there, it will be over soon.
I still try to be matter of fact about it. I dread, however, the all too realistic possibility that Reagan will have another cavity. I also dread the fact that Ashlyn will break down in the waiting room before even being taken back to the chair. And that the technicians will think I’m mean and lying by saying, “just go on back there, you’ll be fine…and we’ll get a treat afterwards…sugar free, for sure.”
I wasn’t shocked to find out that Reagan does indeed have another cavity. What has me questioning the identity of my youngest offspring is how relaxed she was through the whole appointment. I think the hygienist detected some water works coming when the girls went back alone without me. She came back out a couple minutes later, after cleaning Reagan’s teeth, and asked me to come back with Ashlyn instead of sitting in the waiting room. Fine with me, I couldn’t get good cell phone reception in the lobby anyway.*
She had me lie in the chair with Ashlyn on top of me. Visions began running through my head of Ashlyn, whose head…and mouth…were so close to my ear, screaming so loud my eardrum would pop. I doubt my healthcare covers popped eardrums at a dental visit. I felt for sure there would be no way, no matter what they tried to do, barring promising her a puppy, to actually clean her teeth. Imagine my surprise when she reclined relaxed through the whole process. Even when the dentist was scraping her teeth. Even when he was “tickling her teeth” with that toothbrush that rotates at several million rpms.
Who was this kid? Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely grateful and thanked God immediately. But what does this mean in terms of her being able to let go of me as she grows up? Is she going to be lying on me at the dentist when she’s a teenager? What about those yearly “womanly” appointments? That could get awkward.
I think I’m admitting here that I’m not comfortable with being needed like that. I’m naturally an introvert and I tend to like to do things by myself. I tend to not like it when someone needs me the way that a lot of kids are needy. Reagan was not that needy of a baby and continues to be ready to go live with someone else if only given the chance. Not because she doesn’t love us, but it seems she doesn’t need the physical love and affection. It’s not our love language. She’s probably an introvert too.
Ashlyn, on the other hand, speaks a different language. She’s cuddly and is worried every single Wednesday and Sunday thinking that we’re not going to come get her after church that week. That makes NO sense to me. It’s a real fear for her though. So, I guess for the time being, I’ll go against my natural tendency to tell her just to buck up and deal with it and let her lie on me in the dentist chair. Any advice on the abandonment issue would be greatly appreciated though.**
*Before you think I’m some horrible mother who’s not concerned with her kids more than her cell phone… I believe that sending them back to do these appointments by themselves helps them learn to be self sufficient. Three might be too young, I’m slowly realizing. But I think far too many modern parents coddle their children to the point of handicapping them emotionally and stunting their maturity.
**Be forewarned that I will not take your advice if I consider it too coddling to the point of handicapping her emotionally and stunting her maturity. K?