J is not a fan of going to the dentist. (I don’t know anyone who is, actually, a fan of going to the dentist.) In spite of this, he spends a good deal of time asking to GO to the dentist. He asks me to CALL the dentist. He tells me the dentist needs to look at his teeth. He brushes his teeth quite assiduously and never leaves the house without having done this…even if he brushed his teeth not an hour earlier.
After much insistence on his part, I called the dentist and set up an appointment for a cleaning. I informed J that I had, in fact, called the dentist and set up an appointment. I wrote this prominently on the calendar.
I didn’t remind J on a daily basis of his impending visit to the dentist because this is counterproductive. He will go from remembering to obsessing in one fell swoop and DENTIST will become a word we all hate in short order.
On Tuesday morning I told him “today we’re going to the dentist.” You’d think I had never mentioned the concept of a visit to the dentist before. J gave me a look that basically implied “how COULD you???!!!”
Very quickly, though, and with the promise of a taco lunch after, he got with the program. He brushed his teeth, dressed up nicely and off we went with Dada to the not-insignificant trek to the dental practice. All the way there in the car, as we walked across the parking and through the multiple connecting lobbies of the hospital’s different clinics and departments, J was happy and relaxed.
And then he saw the dentist’s chair.
We have all, at some point, experienced a moment in which a child or pet locks their legs and is virtually impossible to move. No matter what we do, the child or pet is immovable. A few weeks ago, Dada experienced such a moment with our otherwise overly-enthusiastic and rambunctious Golden Retriever. She bounced happily out of the car and across the parking lot (on the leash, of course) and then stopped dead at the entrance of the pet store where they do her grooming. It was the first time she went there, of course, so she was not sure what was what. By the time Dada went to pick her up she was acting like she’d been to a resort and he was a bummer for taking her home.
J, who seems to have grown taller in the past few months, planted himself like the legendary Colossus of Rhodes (one leg here and another there) and refused (with every atom -and its components- of his being) to budge.
Correction: the only movement he did was in reverse. Luckily for Dada, he’d had the foresight to wear shoes with rubber treads because J was pushing him back into the hallway with every step back.
J decided this was the appropriate moment to let out a series of his high-pitched squeals. This sound is only ever more alarming to the other patients in an Emergency Room. A dental clinic comes a close second. I am sure that in all the other treatment rooms, people wearing little paper bibs attached with little ball-bearing chains quaked in their boots at the sound of our son’s stubbornness.
I informed Dada that he wasn’t really helping. I also told J resistance was futile. Dada went to a corner to take a moment to collect himself; I took J to a window to converse with him.
Five minutes it took. Five minutes of both physical and mental resistance to the process. Five minutes of me calmly reminding him that we were there at his request. Five minutes of deep breaths and looking into his eyes with what I hoped was a reassuring gaze.
This was, I believe, the teeth cleaning that established a record for land speed. The hygienist, in my humble opinion, deserves a medal. She also deserves a cash prize. She managed to do the cleaning while J sat not in a comfortable exam chair, but rather on the chair that is provided for the extra person accompanying the patient, or the chair on which you’d put your coat while your teeth are being cleaned.
J sweated profusely, but -once he got past his “we shall not be moved” stage- cooperated as fully as one cooperates with anyone that has sharp objects and whirring machines in the vicinity of one’s gums and teeth.
The first thing he asked for when we were done was TACOS. We told him we’d go get tacos because what goes with tacos is beer and we needed a beer.
We have to do this again in August. This is more of a “getting to know you” thing with J and the hygienist. This next appointment will be out of pocket because the insurance only covers visits every six months, but we’re willing to invest in developing a more consistent routine for J’s dental health.
We made it home by 1 PM. J was not all too happy that we went to have lunch at a sit-down taco place. I think he was ready, after the trauma of resisting and acquiescing, to bring his tacos home and eat in his pajamas, but we thought it best -since he’s been wanting to stay home more and more on the weekends- to lure him to a sit-down meal at a restaurant.
In the end, it all worked out. We’ve been doing a good job of cleaning his teeth, and he’s getting better at accepting things that he’s not comfortable with…I say it’s a good start.
Now that I am fully recovered from my surgery and am able to take up regular exercise (instead of just sitting around wondering if a laundry basket is too heavy for the weight restrictions the surgeon imposed on me), we can go back to our “running” and calisthenics. We both need it… Winter felt rather long, and it’s time to fully shake off the cobwebs we’ve accumulated over the cold-weather months and my convalescence.