Who is this girl?

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?

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14 thoughts on “Who is this girl?

  1. sclubmama says:

    I’m terrified of the dentist myself – having bad genes and hygience practices growing up (thanks Mom & Dad) so I’m super anal about my kids’ teeth (or well…Isaac’s gums as he has no teeth).

    Tristan has been to the dentist twice. He does well. He doesn’t like to be held down as they brush his teeth, though. Which is fine; who likes to be held down. I think I’d start letting him go back at 5 unless I feel he’s ready before then.

    I try really hard not to let my fear show when we’re at the dentist. They have good teeth (so far) so I’m not very concerned. I’d never let them go with me to the dentist (which will be awhile yet because I need EXTENSIVE work done and we can’t afford those prices).

  2. mommymovesagain says:

    I think motherhood is a balancing act. Teaching your children independence and also showing how much you care for them.
    I think different times call for different actions. There isn’t a one-fix solution (I wish!)
    Shots, dentists, dropping her at the pre-school door, instead of walking in with her (I did that this morning! *sob*) all part of the learning process.
    It’s just nice to read about a mommy who cares…:)

  3. There’s coddling – and then there are just things that little ones are terrified of. I was always terrified of the dark so I slept with a nightlight until I was like 9. They’ll both grow out of it. And while I think you’re right to push them to be independent, don’t push too hard. I think with Ash it’s just that she’s still little. Give her at least another year before you make her move out. 😉

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks for the advice. It’s always a guessing game when you’re right in the middle of trying to parent a situation correctly. Hind sight is 20/20, of course, and hopefully I’ll keep learning from previous mistakes and successes to “refine” my technique 🙂

  4. again, I love that you hubby replies on your blog, awesome
    I am glad you found a dentist and that your girls did great.
    my boys just went right back with no problems… so I have no advice. They aren’t clingy usually…so I am thankful for that.

  5. Vicki, I think you’re handling this just right. I think this will enable Ashlyn to become comfortable with, and to trust the dentist. Then the transition to going back alone will be easier.

    I think you’re a great mom! 🙂

  6. I was rocking my newborn grandson, as I was sitting and reading your post, I reflected back over the years of raising my 6 children. I have always encouraged them to seek to be better and to become themselves. When they were little, we would go into the nursery stay a bit then leave. Later the older ones would sometimes drop off the younger ones. There were times of need of comfort and because they knew the arms were there if needed, they would reach out. If they thought they be wise, they would shun the hand and strike out on their own.
    I have adult children now. The girls will call if they are in need. Mom, will you? Can you? A variety of reasons, but I go if needed then leave for them to continue on their own. It is a lesson I learned from the scriptures, where it talks about the Lord’s hand being stretched out still. He is not about to jump in and coddle us but he is always there if the need is real.
    Love them, hold them when they will let you, and be prepared for the day they won’t want to be held.
    I love my children and now my grandchildren, all 15 of them. What a blessing.

  7. I think that in a truly frightening circumstance, surrounding a child with love and help can change their understanding…can make them feel like they will be able to manage this situation when they’re ready. I never heard of holding the child on top of you at the dentist, but it worked, and eventually you won’t have to do that…maybe just hold her hand. I’ll keep this in mind for my daughter in case the grandkids turn out to be frightened of the tooth-doctor.

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