When my daughter Sasha visited the dentist six months ago, she had a complete melt down. As a recently turned ten year old with a bad gag reflex and high anxiety about the dentist office, it did not go well. There was crying, her actually physically swatting the dental hygienist AND dentist’s hands away from her mouth, and there was of course, sweating. That was all me.
No part of her meltdown was to be intentionally difficult but a long standing worry of gagging and throwing up had her a complete wreck. The dentist actually told her she had to come back three days later when she was more calm to let her count her teeth. And she did. And it was okay.
When the appointment reminder e-mail arrived two weeks ago, I tried to get out of taking her. Multiple ideas came to my head…ask her father to take her, ask my husband – her step-dad, ask my dad, ask my friend with no kids, ask a random stranger, play sick. I really didn’t care who took her, as long as it wasn’t me.
You see, I felt like a lost and tortured soul six months ago at that appointment. I must have failed as a mother in some way that my daughter was such a disaster. She was in tears and I was fighting back tears. She begged for me to make it stop and I begged her to sit in the chair so the dentist could do her job. So Sasha’s teeth didn’t rot. And fall out.
One week ago, I told her about yesterday’s appointment. I timed it just right. One week away meant time to practice desensitizing her to the dentist’s tools. Like I did after the dentist invited us back, I would use Q-tips to practice touching her teeth as I held her mouth open with the end of a toothbrush or anything that would resemble the feel of the mirror tugging at her cheek.
But I didn’t get the reaction I had expected. She was excited. She told me that she had been practicing brushing her back teeth. She was ready. Who was this child/tween/girl/young lady?
I was not ready. I had been filled with dread for days. I was worried about her, worried for me. It was stressful for both of us and I didn’t want a repeat experience.
Yesterday was the big day. The hygienist took her back by herself. I could see Sasha in the room, from the waiting area. There was no screaming or crying to be heard and when I finally did catch Sasha’s eye, she mouthed the words, “I did the x-ray already” I bulged my eyes out of my head and gave her a questioning thumbs up, as if to say, “Really?!?!” She responded with a giant smile and returned with her own double thumbs up and head nodding.
I was invited back just before Dr. Dave came in. Sasha was beaming. I was not sweating. It was a glorious moment.
I am reminded that sometimes the best surprises are the ones when you assume the worst and the best happens.
It was a good day.