Today was a long one. I began the day by calling the insurance company and many dentist offices. We live in an area where many of the doctors are Jewish so I thought most of them would be in the office today. Not so! After about an hour on the phone with the insurance company determining the exact procedure that was required to ensure coverage of whatever the dentist would do for Ben today, I spent another hour calling every dentist within a three mile radius (quite a lot offices!). I finally found a kind receptionist who was a mom and sounded empathetic about my four year old who had endured a toothache all weekend. She referred me to another office that sees children, but they said they weren’t taking any new patients. I’m assuming that I was sounding pretty desperate at that point and I strung together some nonsensical sentence along the lines of “But waiting all weekend, now Monday, no one open…Christmas Eve…please!?” She gave me a stern “Hang on” and came back to tell me the dentist would see us if we could be there in twenty minutes. I said “Anytime, YES.” We rushed into clothes and into the car, and made it to the office where Ben was lulled by the Cartoon Network playing on the big screen TV. All four of us were there and we stuck together through every step of the process. Ella clapped and cheered for Ben’s bravery and Mo and I took turns holding Ben, giving him snuggles and encouragement. I think we all handled it pretty well.
The dentist took an x-ray and examined his tooth, determining that it was infected and oozy (SO SAD). She offered to prescribe antibiotics and wait if we couldn’t do it today, to which Mo and I reacted with a hasty “NO NO LET’S DO IT NOW, CAN WE DO IT NOW!?” I can only imagine the looks on our faces. She told us to come back in half an hour.
We piled into the exam room and I laid in the tiny kid chair with Ben on my lap for ten minutes while we waited for the doctor to come in. I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what else I could do to help the situation. I realized that we were all afraid and the only thing that can really stop fear is laughter. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be afraid in the midst of laughing. Mo and I started cracking jokes about how the nitrous and oxygen tanks with their tubing looked like an octopus and how Ben was going to put on a scuba mask and turn into a jellyfish. Ella was making funny noises so we said that once Ben had some of the laughing gas she would look like a real baby dinosaur to him. We looked around the room and at each other and found every last thing to joke and laugh about. The hygienists walking in and out of the room must have thought we were nuts but I think they got a kick out of us, laughing away in the face of fear. Once the doctor came in i had to get off the chair so I took Ella and stood in the doorway while Mo sat next to Ben’s legs and held his hands. That boy was so brave, he held the mask with laughing gas over his nose and mouth like a pro, then yelled and cried a bit for the novocaine shot, at which point another hygienist came by to close the door so he wouldn’t scare the poor kiddos just there for a cleaning. I stood outside the door with Ella in the sling, chatting with her and trying not to worry. In my stress confused mind I contemplated stealing a roll of stickers from the supply closet next to where I was standing because I thought Ben would think it was awesome. Thankfully I thought better of it before I became “that crazy lady who stole the stickers.”
Listening through the door I realized he didn’t even cry when they pulled the actual tooth out. The one thing that bothered me was hearing the dentist and her assistant give him instructions and ask a high pitched, “Okaaayy?” after everything they said. He gave an “Mmmhmm” most of the time and I felt really bad for him. Of course it wasn’t okay! I feel like it takes his power away to ask him if it’s okay when he has absolutely no option otherwise. After reading some stuff about positive discipline a while back I tried to incorporate that into my parenting. If I am telling Ben to do something that is not optional I don’t ask him, I tell him politely and give him some kind of a choice. Instead of asking him, “Are you ready for bed?” or “Can you put your shoes on?” I say, “It’s time for bed, which two books would you like to read tonight?” or “It’s time to put your shoes on, can do it your self or would you like some help?” If I can’t give him a real choice in or if we are in a hurry I try to go with something like, “Please put your shoes on.” In my opinion, any question to which “No” is not an acceptable answer should not be asked. Asking a kid those kinds of questions leads to power struggles.
Anyway, after the extraction was over he did some good crying and screaming on the way home. I encouraged him to let it out because in a situation like that asking him not to cry would be for my own comfort, not for him. I tried to just go with it and say, “Of course you hate your tooth!” and “It does feel funny. You don’t want the gauze in your mouth.” He did some really epic screaming and yelling and it felt really good for me to hear him letting his feelings out and even articulating what they were. He said he felt angry and uncomfortable and I was so proud. We gave him a present I bought him last night and put on a movie while he snuggled in bed with Mo. I put Ella down for a nap and slept for a little while with her which was awesome. When I woke up I realized that I had barely eaten today so I made some lunch for me and Mo. Ben’s aunt and uncle came over with their sweet baby girl to bring some cheer. Whitney even brought cookies for the grown ups! Apparently she based them on a Smitten Kitchen chocolate chip recipe then added oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips. They were the perfect combination of sweet with enough salt, chewy but not mushy, texture but not so packed with stuff, and just the right amount of chips without being overwhelming. Four stars! We’ll all just have to wait for the blog post (hint hint!).
After two doses of homeopathic Arnica and two hours of watching movies, the novocaine wore off and Ben was pretty much back to himself. He ran around and played with his uncle, ate some ice cream (doctor’s orders!) and even antagonized the baby a little for good measure. We were all incredibly relieved. My mom read him some stories on skype while he ate mashed potatoes and then we had bath time and bed time as usual. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for a boring night at home! I put in some laundry and made a loaf of Whole Wheat Molasses Bread from Mark Bittman’s cookbook and Mo and I are about to sit down to watch a heart warming movie like Love Actually. Actually, I’m going to watch it and Mo will probably watch The Dark Knight Rises on his laptop with his headphones. He’s a little (a lot) obsessed with it right now.
Enough about me, I’m done with the diary entry style posts for a while! Thanks for caring and reaching out, it really helped me get through the tough feelings I was working on. Merry Christmas friends!