I really need to stop explaining myself so much. It would make for quicker blogging..
(The first Al Dente is here.)
Ah, the dentist, one of the few first time milestones that kids have a developed memory for. The wonder, the instruments, why the hell is this lady trying to stick her rubber tasting fingers into my mouth?
Loads of fun, no?
Since Sprite turned four, I've been meaning to make the appointment. Granted, I probably should have made it when she was two, but I just didn't see the need for the dentist to tell me what I already knew: "She's got teeth. And she bites. Two for two, that'll be a fifty dollar co-pay, please."
I know, I know. Lazy Mommy. (Hey, just in time for Mother's Day!) Anyway, when I finally made the appointment, after hearing my friend Rachel's glowing recommendation for her childrens' dentist, John and I began the task of actually psyching her up for said appointment.
"Guess what, Sprite? You get to go to the dentist!" (insert squee here)
Now, see how that last exclamation was worded? Not "you're going to the dentist" or "you have to go to the dentist" or "you must go to the dentist", no, no. I know how to play it up. Sell the time share points. "You, yes, you! Are the lucky winnder, selected and qualified to take part in the bi-annual ritual of being encouraged to drool while a stranger puts nasty tasting metal in your mouth and explores in there, all while forcing you to answer questions in Garble-tongue! Just sign here and submit your voided check and we should be on our way to a lifetime of black-out dates!"
Maybe it was because I didn't offer a free lunch or three night stay in the Bahamas to go along with the spiel, for she looked up with her eyes half closed and asked, "Can I have a cookie?"
Meh. We plodded ahead with the previews anyway. "Going to the dentist is fun! You get to sit in a big chair and pick out the flavor toothpaste so they can brush your teeth for you! That's right, Mommy and Daddy are going to sit back and let the big 'Say Cheese' do it for us! And then you get a sticker and we get to sell it to you again in six months-won't-that-be-fun!"
Still not working.
Once we hit the week mark, we became aggressive. Sprite has been fanatical about the Berenstain Bears lately. Every night, she's come to demand a book from the collection my sister so lovingly handed over, and while we have a good six or seven, we zoomed through the stash quickly and have been picking up new ones based on good behavior, usually as of the last ten minutes or so. (Of course, a nighttime accident happened, thanks to my forgetfulness to clear the immediate area of possible targeted dolls and books once she fell asleep, and a brand new book about Too Much TV went the way of the trash the very night we bought it. How's that for irony?) John, with a rare evening off, used his Tablet to buy the Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist.
This got her attention.
"Sister Bear went to the dentist! And her tooth came out and the tooth fairy took it and Sister got money. Do I gets money when my tooths come out? And she got a sticker and a balloon and can I go to the dentist to-DAY?" (Insert squee here)
All of a sudden, I was on the other end of the excitement. No longer was I hyping up the unavoidable. Now I was disappointing her because, dammit, Monday wasn't Thursday. (Trust me kid. If I could turn Monday into Thursday, I would be very rich and we'd pay someone to go to the dentist for you.)
Questions about when we were going to the dentist were followed by questions of when she would actually lose her first tooth. Suddenly, teeth that were secure in their spots yesterday, I could swear, were mysteriously loose.. "Thee, Mommy? This tooth feelth looth!" Her tongue, a la one of the illustrations in her beloved Berenstain Bears scenes, demonstrated what looked like a noodle hitting a stone wall. That sucker was standing strong no matter how hard she pushed.
"Honey, your teeth will come out when they're ready. Be patient. It will happen. And when it does, the tooth fairy will do something nice for you." (Seeing as first teeth are now worth twenty dollars, the tooth fairy is making no monetary promises.)
Then loose teeth became other body parts. "Mommy, my arm feels loose. Will I get a new arm when this one comes out?"
Oh, Lordy, help me bite my tongue before it spews forth with snarky laughter. "Um, no, sweets. You only get two arms and two legs. The only things that come out are teeth. Everything else grows with you."
Finally Thursday dawned with an 8 AM call time. We were taken back to a kind of middle room for the round of questions and answers. Then the tech announced we would see a short video before commencing with the actual appointment. For a split second I thought I was going to be forced to sit through a "Your Body, Yourself" informational video complete with chalkline diagrams that are supposed to look like anatomy. Instead, we watched a thankfully short cartoon about Geena Giraffe and her trip to the dentist along with her (Subplot!) mission to defeat King Cavity. Sprite, a little put off by the basic animation, (Sprite, once you get to Kindergarten and any public school area, ALL the cartoons and pamphlets look like this. I'm sorry for subjecting you to DreamWorks and Disney for all those years without warning that not every animated plot comes complete with songs and spunky princesses but instead a barely disguised lesson.) looked wearily at the tech once she re-entered the room (Yeah, I wouldn't be forced to sit through that carturd again either..) and announced we would do the x-ray portion of our visit next.
Walking to the little room with a very big chair front and center, the tech proceeded to separate Sprite and me, telling my nervous child that "Mommy needs to stand outside the doorway so her belly doesn't get exposed" while hovering her right hand over my midsection.
Our eyes met, my eyebrow raised in the negative, and she quickly added an addendum to her speech "or her eyes or nose or hands.." while I immediately relegated my empire waist blouse to the back of my closet for the foreseeable future.
Sprite wasn't buying it for she immediately pulled her Ace out of her sleeve. "I hafta go potty."
I called her bluff and took her to the bathroom only to be told, "Just kidding!" and trudged back to the x-ray room where we learned we had lost our spot to two girls, 4 and 3, who were patiently having their x-rays taken.
"See, Sprite? It's not bad at all!" She leaned closer to me, trying to disappear into my purse.
The tech came over sensing Sprite's fear. "We don't have to get the pictures today. We'll just have the dentist look at her teeth."
Now here's where she aced the exam. Opening her mouth on cue for the dentist and letting her teeth be "tickled" with that awful scraper, she was annointed with a clean bill of health and thought nothing of it.
"That was the hardest part, Sprite. Now, can we go get the pictures done?" I asked, even though the tech had packed our file up and was ready to show us the door.
Sprite nodded, and negotiated for Pinkalicious, her morphing turtle-unicorn-pony doll, (Seriously, it's a unicorn to everyone else but her and her interpretation changes daily. In fact, yesterday, she decided that Harry was a girl and Blue was a boy. That was hours of fun of tripping over myself with gender assignments before bedtime magically moved up a half hour. Don't look at me like that. Once the kid can tell time, I promise I'll stop pulling rank.) to also have her x-rays done too.
The kid did it. Without complaint. Just sat and looked this way and that according to direction, and did it.
Damn straight I was proud. And no cavities to boot.
Now, we just get to remind her of her bravery and talk her through it again in six months. Oh, the joys of parenthood...