If I had to name one aspect of parenting that I deeply, intensely hate, it actually wouldn't be the diapers or the sleep deprivation or the full-body bone-goop temper tantrums or even the look on your preshus beloved baby's face when you accidentally call him "sweetie" while saying goodbye in the middle school hallway.
No, it'd be taking them to the damn dentist.
Our past appointments easily take up several spots in my all-time top 10 Low Moments In Parenting list. We're talking screaming, kicking, crying. (Them, not me. At least not until we were back in the car.) I'd have to sit in the chair with them, pinning down their arms and legs with all the force my own limbs could muster, while a clearly pissed-off and tired-of-this-shit hygienist tried to assure them that "Mister Thirsty" was nothing to be scared of.
(FUCK YOU MISTER THIRSTY, I'd think to myself, while also trying to think of post-appointment good-behavior incentives that didn't involve tooth-rotting junk food, lest the hygienist judge me even more.)
We tried kid-only dentists, special-needs dentists, dentists whose lobbies were packed with video games and had televisions in the exam rooms. My kids would have none of it. You can't make me open my mouth, motherfucker. You are not coming near me with that weird toothbrush and toothpaste that doesn't really taste like chocolate, it tastes like wall spackle mixed with sand and WE ALL KNOW IT.
Eventually, we'd get through the appointment, exhausted and angry...and still unable to get at least one kid successfully x-rayed and another to acquiesce to anything other than a standard-bristle tooth-brushing. Then the receptionist would be like, "See you in six months!" and I'd be all, "KILL ME IN FIVE."
(They were all more or less okay with the dentist when they were toddlers, for the record. It got progressively worse as they grew older and heavier and thrashier.)
And here I admit it: We stopped taking them to the dentist for awhile.
But that is bad! You should not do that! Especially since any mental relief I got from NOT having dentist appointments looming on the horizon was completely offset by all the guilt and worry I felt about my horrible negligence. What if all their teeth were literally rotting out of their heads! What if their gums were full of impacted molars growing upside-down into their jawbones! Dental plan! Lisa needs braces! Dental plan! Lisa needs braces!
And so on.
Then Ezra started complaining about one of his baby teeth. It was loose but not very loose, and he wouldn't let us touch it because he said it hurt so much. He'd flinch when eating.
And then Ike showed up at the side of my bed one morning (at 5:25 a.m., to be exact), pointing at his mouth and demanding to know why one particular grown-up tooth was taking so long to come in, because he lost the baby version "like, when I was five."
(I don't believe that's the actual timeline, but I admit I don't really know for sure. Teeth fall out by the dozens around here. Who can say anymore?)
So we took them all to the dentist yesterday. A new dentist, lest we return to the scene of past shames and horrors. Jason and I both took the morning off so we could deal with it together. We mapped out a plan for zone defense and multiple freakouts. We gave each other an extra hug in the morning. We were dreading it.
It was fine?
Everyone was...totally fine?
Noah still isn't a fan of Mister Thirsty (and for real, fuck that guy), but the super nice and actually-experienced-with-special-needs hygienist said that was cool, he could just get up and rinse in the sink if he preferred. (WHAT A CONCEPT.) He is apparently an A+ flosser, which puts his probably-a-C-minus mother to shame. Ezra and Ike sat perfectly still and calm throughout their cleanings, exams and x-rays.
Nobody shamed us for the lapse in visits, quite the opposite, in fact. Clearly, a little maturity made all the difference in the world. Plus everybody's teeth are absolutely fine and perfectly healthy (though there are definitely some spacing issues and braces in our future), including Ezra's pesky painful baby tooth. "It just needs to come out, buddy," the dentist told him.
He pulled it out himself this morning. He feels much, much better now.
We go back in six months. And I feel much, much better now too.