Friday, September 20, 2013

Discipline from the dentist's chair

1.  I thought it would work out okay.  Really, I did.  I had both of my responsible, older daughters with me. We had staggered appointment times.  I didn't want to bother my mom about watching them... and when I did, her cell phone was deceased, forgotten, or left in the car, as is wont to occur.

That is the mindset I had when I singlehandedly took all four of my children to a dentist appointment.

Oh, it started so smoothly.  The baby was asleep.  I sent my oldest to check in, and sighed.  This was good. Really good.  A nap would help the youngest's mood for this brave experiment in mommy idiocy.


2.  As we waited in the snoozing silence, I spent time catching up with Claire, my non-homeschooled kiddo. I miss her during the day... But she's loving her classroom, and has a million, trillion, bazillion things to say about the new kid Dante, and which tests she aced, and what they did at recess, and how gym went, and what book Mrs. So and So read at library, and and and she was called in.  And then so was I.

Oh dear, this was not the staggered, one after another appointments I expected!  This was not perfect!  But okay.  Offices can run late and early sometimes, I suppose.

Regretfully, I picked up my little one (thus rousing her from a deep sleep), hoisted her onto my hip, and made my way down the narrow hall.

3.   The dental hygienist blinked at me.  Just blinked.  Like a non-comprehending bird.

"Uh.  You have kids here."

"Yes.  Yes. I do.  I'm so sorry I couldn't find a sitter.  I thought..."

It didn't matter what I thought.  Delighted where wakefulness had found her, the toddler was already clambering onto the chair, while my preschooler grabbed a metal sharp tooth jabber-scraper thingie.

"Mom what's THIS do...  Oh look, A BABY MIRROR..."

The hygienist was still blinking.  Frozen in awe of what was, apparently, her first sighting of human children.

4. I decided to fake it till I made it.  I turned on my Montessori teacher voice.  Smooth and calm as a puddle of cream.

"Okay, we're going to come here and sit peacefully, just like this, on the floor by the window.  You see?" Keeping the lilting quality in my tone, I gestured at the 1.4 feet of space between the foot of the dentist's chair.  I balked a little.  Germs be damned or..."Or you could stand by the window and count cars."

This worked long enough for the chair to groan into position,  the light to click on, and for me to pry my narrow mouth open enough to get sharp instruments put in.  (Really, what kind of mental evolution does it take for us to voluntarily allow strangers to stick sharp things in our mouths?  Humans are so bizarre...)

Exuding doubt from every pore at the presence of miniature humans in her pristine working space, the hygienist's eyes narrowed in grim determination.   Even with a masked mouth, I could tell from those eyes: this was to be a fast appointment.

I don't think my teeth were ever before attacked quite so vehemently.  But I'm pretty tough, and I was so distracted by the behavior of my children that I didn't feel much.  I kept trying to peer down my cheeks at them from my severely reclined position.  I strained to hear past the mouth vacuum that was devouring the inside of my cheek while sounding like a pterodactyl dying of a respiratory illness.

5. Then they did it.  Those tiny, miscreant minors: they found the wind-up toys.

What's wrong with that? you say.  No no no, my friends, my friends: these were decorative toys.  Not meant for something as basic and vulgar as "playing."  This was apparently the eyelash-batter's prized collection of wind-up toys on display.

Nothing could be more appealing to my children at that moment then a squirrel with a whirling nut on its nose.

And nothing could be more breakable.  Not only were they (gasp) playing with them, attempting to overwind them, but they were starting to fight over them...

6.  I dare you to try disciplining your children, in any form or fashion, while lying on a dentist's chair with your mouth full of metal and sucking instruments.

"Gerr gerr GERR gerr gerr GERRR!" was pretty much what I managed.

My tooth attacker was choosing to ignore the existence of the little wretches, and so was of little use or assistance in the escalating clamor over whose wind-up toys now belonged in whose sticky fingers...

Most mercifully, my oldest came in shortly after that moment.  Placing my fist on my open palm, I signed "help," my eyes begging her for assistance.  I circled my palm over my heart.  "Please!"

I bless the Lord I taught them basic signs.

"All right you two, come with me."  And taking each of them by a hand, she led them to the waiting room with promises of stories.  She's SO good with the little ones...

Beaming with pride, I settled back to drool in peace over my paper bib.  And I was soon finished, the hygienist acted as though the disturbing vision of youngsters had not ever disrupted the sanctuary of her room.  I did notice that I was not given a choice of toothbrush color however, nor offered a prize from the prize box...

7.  My peace remained until I entered the waiting room to collect my offspring, where the following waited for me:  Two older daughters, entranced by a cooking show on the blaring set.  And the occupants of the waiting room, entranced by my youngest, who was most joyously bottomless, her sodden diaper having been cast off beside a perturbed older woman with a red bag which was not, however, as red as my face.

"Clothe yourselves with humility."  1 Peter 5:5


  1. LOL . . . you'll make it through parenting in a world where people don't appreciate children. I used to take 5 children to the dentist at one time. The pediatricians were the worst. The vet was the best. I enjoyed how you wrote about your experience. It turned a negative event into something humorous and an interesting read. It is good to look back and be able to laugh instead of having a bad attitude.

    Have a wonderful day with those kiddos.

  2. Wow, you are brave..amazingly, amazingly brave! I've taken my kids lots of places, but never to dentists appointments with me...I draw the line at having to be responsible for children while having someone poke sharp instruments in my mouth. That might explain why I haven't been to the dentist in years.

  3. I laughed out loud, believe me! I have only one child so far (more soon I pray!) and I can't imagine taking even one to an appointment where I'd be immobilized.

    I shall note the usefulness of sign language.

  4. Which dental school is best and got high rank for providing dental education? I want to pursue my dental education from a good place.
    dentist Redondo Beach

  5. Uh-oh, I'm sorry to hear about this! There are plenty of things for kids to become fascinated with and interested in at the dentist's clinic, after all, so you weren't wrong to worry in the first place. One bright side to this is that maybe once the time comes for their own treatments, they won't be scared!

  6. You’re right, Patty! It seems this particular dental appointment had worried the mom more than the kids. Hahaha! You’re such a wonderful mom, TLC. Congratulations on making it through the appointment with your four kids to take care of.

    Gus Eckles

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  8. Oh no! I can only imagine a total riot with four kids at the dental office. Good thing you didn’t experience problems with all of them, right? Hehe! Months have passed now, and I hope they didn’t have to face dental treatments due to cavities and dentures. :)

    Calandra Novak

  9. Oh my, that last scene was precious! Haha. It really is tough trying to manage four kids at once. What more if you had a major dental procedure and was administered Novocain? Haha. It’s nice to see how your kids are all starting to grow up and be more responsible. Well of course, except for the youngest, that is. Hope you get better soon!
    Dr. Jason Dew @ GRMetroDental

  10. It was a very good post indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in my lunch time. Will surely come and visit this blog more often. Thanks for sharing.