A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: dentist

Life as Pictures: when they are equally brave and annoying

Things are good. I was asked to teach for the same university for the fall semester. I’m pretty jazzed about that…a bit surprised too. I felt I did a good job, but this is a grant funded gig. I assumed when I wasn’t asked to return shortly after I finished, they moved onto other agendas. I don’t quite understand the mission of this department subset. Other cool things…did I mention I was nominated for a nonprofit Board? I’ve volunteered for them in various capacities for a few years, but I hadn’t considered and opportunity like this. It was flattering to be recommended by the Executive Director, Board Chair, and Vice Chair. It isn’t unusual for superiors and colleagues to sing my praises to some extent, but I’m always flattered and humbled by this kind of positive regard…and then I proceed to find ways to dismiss the accomplishment and undermine my positive mindset…I’m working on that…

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Mr. Man is an interesting character. Some things I can’t get him to do for the life of me, but going to the dentist and receiving shots is a total nonissue. Of course, if I had shades like that maybe I’d be down with it too… Actually, while I’m phobic of needles, the dentist never bothered me. As a middle-aged woman I continue to have excellent oral hygiene. The dentist and hygienist were shocked he had no issue throughout the appointment…totally chill. We spend quite a bit of time talking about bravery anticipating scary things. It’s worked surprisingly well. About a week before appointments we start having discussions about these things…doctor’s visits…dentist…whatever that might be considered unpleasant or scary. Sometimes Little Man will frantically wave his hands and tell us to stop talking. Literally. He interrupts us mid sentence saying, “Stop talking,” in a rushed breath. We do. But, we still manage a healthy dose of normalizing fear, discussing bravery and the process of confronting fear. These days my son will ask me what I’m afraid of and what I do about it…and I will confirm that I am afraid of an irrational shit-ton of things. I think, however, it’s helpful for him to hear of all the things the family members he admires fear. After all, everyone is scared of something.

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I can’t believe it, but I have potty training news! The peanut gallery can FINALLY get off my back…for now. My son isn’t quite there yet. Sometimes he will urinate in the toilet. Most of the time this month he decided to use the toilet to poop, which is quite a lovely thing. He’s pretty good at wiping himself as well. Given there are easily about three poops a day per child, I’m livin’ large. It isn’t perfect. Little Man isn’t ready to transition to full-time potty (probably because he doesn’t yet realize he will be left alone to eat a snack and read a book for a few minutes). We haven’t had accidents so much as expressions of his reliable need to control people and his environment. His refusals to poop in the toilet seem directly related to very specific events I don’t want to get into, but for the time being are unavoidable. And, the day after his first toilet dump, he didn’t scream and tantrum when I mentioned buying underwear. He chose the above selection. I can’t stand that show. Their notion of diversity are having both blond and brunette White boys…one of them is the leader, and totally obnoxious. The girl is not quite White, but simultaneously is. She has an exotic name, so that must count, right? (Oh, look, there are my tonsils!) I say this because the lack of diversity, lead girls, and general stereotyping in children’s programming GREATLY bothers me. But, I digress. Mr. Man seemed keen on his underwear, but Warrior Queen seemed significantly more so. My money is on her using the toilet shortly after her big brother stops needing diapers during the day. She’ll see him strutting around in his annoying Cat Boy underwear, and that will be the end of diapers for Warrior Queen!

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Mr. Man enjoys puzzles. I’d been giving him puzzles for a three-year-old, which are much too easy, but he enjoys repetitions like that. This one is the first four-year-old puzzle he’s tried. He could probably do it himself, but prefers it as an activity to do with an adult. For the first time in my life I enjoy puzzles…because I can manage one for a four-year-old. It took a bit for Little Man to sit for this one, but he enjoyed schlepping all the pieces around. This was the first time we managed to get through it without him building something random and incongruous with the project of piecing together the thing. I never did find that piece, and it’s unbelievably annoying.

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This is not an impressive game of the retro Pick-up Sticks. This is Warrior Queen battling me over an almost full box of pasta. It was already open and resting on the counter. She apparently can scale our island to grab anything and everything off the top by using the drawer handles as a ladder. I had my back to her for a second…of course, that’s a parenting motto: “It was just a second!” You’d think I wouldn’t be a total idiot about where I place things, yet… She wanted to carry it over to me, but I’m not THAT much of an imbecile. Her wanting to “carry” it over consists of shaking the box and dumping the contents everywhere. But, that’s not what happened in this instance. There was no shaking with a gradual overflow of objects out of a container. Warrior Queen cut right to the chase and immediately dumped everything, subsequently screaming as I tried to retrieve the completely empty box.

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Warrior Queen spent a good fifteen to twenty minutes refusing to eat anything but the broth of this soup, which is just wrong. Who doesn’t passionately love chicken noodle soup? I mean, I’ve had bad chicken noodle soup, but it’s practically an art to completely fuck it up. I remember looking down for a moment, and when I glanced back, this was the situation before me. I even checked the ground and her lap before marveling at her efficiency of sucking down the cup’s contents.

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Trepidation

The cusp of three-and-a-half-year-old Mr. Man had his first dentist appointment the other day. My husband and I have a standard protocol introducing new and possibly unpleasant things to him, and its efficacy is magical…Like a unicorn spontaneously appearing in my family room shitting cookies and telling me MPOTUS and his dream team are in prison.

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(allposters.com read my mind; can’t you FEEL the magic…totally worth a house coated in glitter, right?)

Little Man has always struggled with transitions, even for small changes in activities. As a little wee man, if he were enjoying swings, good luck getting him off…out of a bathtub…out the door. It never mattered. Announcing anything requiring him to shift gears almost always led to a refusal and meltdown.

For the longest time it was enough to countdown minutes; I still do. It’s a bit absurd. We call them “Mommy Minutes” because they have no actual relationship to real time. A Mommy Minute is probably more like a minute-and-a-half in real time…because I have shit to do. The process begins with me announcing five minutes remaining of an activity, then I periodically announce one minute less in intervals suiting me. The last announcement will be thirty seconds before I ask my son to count from ten. Once he accomplishes his part, I almost never have an issue ushering him to the next task. Occasionally, I have to follow-up with a mild redirection or limit, but I can’t remember the last time there has been a full-out heel digging and head spinning.

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(Linda Blair pictures were freaking me out, but Anthony Hopkins is hot and beats the hell out of the Mitch McConnell look alike that kept popping up…You’re welcome.)

It doesn’t have to be minutes either. I’ve counted pushes…bites…taps…anything. The point is that he needs time to shift gears. He probably inherited this rigidity from me. It’s interesting because he’s pretty easy going and laid back. I would have expected him to be a worrier or a generally anxious kid; he isn’t.

That said, for a bit around when Warrior Queen was born we were having trouble getting Mr. Man to sit for a hair-cut, and few things make a Mommy feel like more of a humiliated failure than when she and her offspring are bounced from a bargain hair salon amongst a crowd of bystanders. That was our family’s hair-cut bottom, and Little Man was in desperate need of trimmed locks.

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(You got me Flickr, this guy’s situation might have been worse, but only because my experience isn’t on the internet. And, really, I’m just one delicious chocolate cake away from an impressive pants split.)

My brilliant husband spent the following week talking about getting a hair-cut. General things: what happens…random details…how long it takes…why it’s time to get one…Mommy and Daddy have them. There was nothing poetic about the conversations, and some were quite clumsy. Often he passionately refused during these conversations. If he became weepy, we’d stop talking, and move on to other topics. But, the next weekend my Mr. Man sat on Daddy’s lap for a hair-cut without issue. When he was finished he skipped over to me screaming, “I did a good job!” We haven’t had a problem with hair-cuts since.

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(The hair-cut was miraculous! Thanks, The Wolf.)

Little Man abhors the doctor even more than a hair snipping…even if it isn’t an appointment for him. But, after a week of talking about it, my brave boy managed his most recent physical despite reddening eyes and a shaky voice as the visit progressed. Fortunately, no vaccinations that round, but I’ve used this approach for his last blood test checking his lead levels. Whenever we leave appointments that potentially throw his disposition askew, my husband and I tell Little Man how brave he was, and how proud we are of him. We often talk about bravery in our home…feeling fear, but pushing on anyway.

This leads us to the dental appointment. The tricky thing with this situation is that I wasn’t sure what would be happening. He’s three; how can they clean the teeth of a three-and-some-change-year-old kid? I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep, so I feared my responses would be ungratifying. Will it hurt? Probably not, but I’m not sure what they are doing exactly. It will probably just feel weird. I focused on their expertise working with kids his age. He asked if he could sit on my lap during the appointment. I’m not sure, but I could commit to before and after. Blessedly that was enough. My intermittently cautious kid was nervous the night before. He didn’t say, but we had trouble getting him to settle the night before, and he woke early.

It was a strange morning. Getting him ready we spoke more of the appointment…went over the same concerns…would it hurt…the lap situation. Mr. Man pauses at the end before saying with an intellectual, high pitched lilt in his voice, “I don’t know. It sounds suspicious to me…” That one prompted a cascade of tears blurring my vision for five minutes…and side cramps.

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(It’s a little known fact that Socrates was really a preschooler.)

We needed to be out of the house first thing, but my son climbed into my car forty-five minutes before it was time to manage our exit shuffle. I hadn’t even wrangled a shower yet. He gave me a bit of push back before allowing me to carry him back into the house.

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(Usually this is Warrior Queen’s spirit animal, but not on this occasion. Thanks for the token, Pinterest!)

Entering the house and left to his own devices while I prepared for our day, Little Man resumed business as usual. He tormented his sister for a bit…tormented me a bit less…all in a day’s morning ritual. I showered, finished making snacks for the day. Suddenly, the house was quiet. Little Man disappeared once again, finding his way into his car seat. I went ahead and buckled him in, but he didn’t want me to go. I squeezed myself on the edge of the car floor in front of him.

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(Looks comfy cozy, doesn’t it? Sick Chirpse knows I’d do just about anything for my children…)

He kissed and held my hand telling me how much he loves me. We laughed. I asked him if he was scared. He said he was. We talked about bravery some more. He said he is brave; I agreed. He asked to check my teeth; I complied. I’d managed to ignore the pain in my hips and tushie, but eventually the tingling jabs were intolerable. I smooched Mr. Man, and provided one more snuggle before leaving my precarious perch. My little man did not stop me.

There were no tears or tantrums as we entered the office…no apprehension. I didn’t know what to expect, but from the immediate first moments they were pros. Pediatric dentistry is no joke, but this crew had it down. My son was marvelous for the entire time…cleaning and all that included dental floss! I didn’t bring in my phone incorrectly assuming this first appointment was probably a meet and greet with a quick check to see if anything is rotting.

I couldn’t help but wear a smile so wide that my face became sore; quietly gazing at my little man as he sat on folded legs wearing the sun glasses they gave him because of the bright lights. The hygienist won him over by allowing him to fondle the various instruments. My son agreeably opened his mouth like a dinosaur, even though he didn’t seem exactly sure what that meant. He tried to answer questions about juice and gummy snacks, but was unable. Mr. Man has a bit of juice a couple of times a week, and I don’t think has ever eaten a gummy snack; this was one of the rare times I felt I kill it at this whole parenting thing. It isn’t as though I feel I’m terrible at it, but every once in a while something happens that makes me feel like I should be carried off by a team of smartly dressed athletes.

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(I can still hear the chants, “Mommy…Mommy…Mommy…”)

We left the appointment with my son holding my hand telling me how brave he is, beaming I whole heartedly agreed.

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