I should have been more aware of the signs that this dentist appointment was not going to be like our others. The boy happily went back to have his six- month check up by himself – clue number one that this was different. As a boy on the verge of becoming eight years old, he now is “grown up” in his mind. He can do things by himself (even fixing his cereal in the mornings). Gone are the days of me holding his hand while he has each tooth polished to perfection; he could do this by himself.
I smiled to myself as he went back, happily chatting away to his hygienist. My precious flower climbed in my lap in the waiting room and announced, “I want to go by myself too; I’m a big girl now.” Oh goodness, were we here already? I smiled at her and said, “Are you sure honey? I’m awfully proud of you wanting to be a big girl, but if you change your mind I will go with you.” As they called her back, she suddenly looked up at me and said, “I want you to come with me.” OK, with me, this was her third cleaning at the dentist and I wasn’t convinced she would be okay all by her lonesome. As she sat in the chair and the hygienist began her “talk” about the process I saw the look of anxiousness start to overtake her sweet face, oh no.
As stated above, this was the precious one’s third appointment with the dentist, her previous history was spectacular. She always adhered to “proper child etiquette” and was still, kept her mouth open and was genuinely happy to have her teeth “sparkle” afterwards. This time I could feel the nervousness creeping into my gut as she squirmed in the dental chair.
The boy was across the hall, happily being flossed, scaled and polished while laid back in the chair with his sunglasses on; such a big guy now. My poor flower began to cry as the prophy brush was zeroing in on her little pearly teeth. “Mommy, I don’t want too,” she cried, whimpering pathetically (great; all thoughts of an easy dentist appointment flying out of the window with those little words). After all was said and done (me leaving the room, informing her that she would not get Dunkin’ Donuts afterwards, etc.) she did not have her teeth cleaned, but did let the kind Dr. Maurer look at her sweet mouth.
On the way out the door (while I silently thanked her for not becoming hysterical, just sadly adamant that she was not going to do it) she suddenly realized the repercussions of her decisions. As her brother skipped over to the treasure box, she went right behind him-until mean old Mommy stopped her. “Sweet girl, you do not get a prize unless you have your teeth brushed,” I said quietly. Uh-Oh, the lip began trembling as I hustled all of us out the door to avoid a tantrum in public.
As we got in the car it all unleashed; the crying. Oh, the crying. She would not have anything to do with me, wanting her brother to buckle her in her seat. As soon as we pulled into Dunkin’ Donuts for the boy she completely lost it, I had a decision to make. Take little psycho in and embarrass myself and her brother or pull right up front to the window and let my independent little guy go in by himself. I chose option “not embarrass myself” and let the boy go in to purchase his donut by himself. As I watched through the window, I was proud of both myself and my sweet boy. Myself, for muting the neurotic mother screaming in my head and letting my boy have some independence and as he walked out, the self-satisfied smile on his face was worth it. He not only went to the dentist all by himself, but he just walked into a store and made his first purchase by himself.
While he basked in the glory of his short burst of independence, oh-lovely-screaming-one really let loose. I had to really say the mantra “Do not give in, do not give in” over and over in my mind to get us home. I wanted her to know that while she wasn’t in trouble, she still did not do what she was supposed to – that means no reward. She was pitiful but once we were all home she calmed right down.
While the boy is growing up, his sweet sister wants to be just like him. I think she has realized that growing up is hard to do and that maybe being four years old is okay for now.