Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The gravity of a cavity

It went a little something like this.

Me asking anyone and everyone, when is the right time you are supposed to take your child to the dentist? And like most things, getting a variety of answers. Then inquiring upon my dental hygenist friends about the stains that showed up on Mason's two front teeth. Followed by me pleading with my husband to put our kids back on dental insurance because I was certain Mason was getting to that age. However it wasn't until I was filling out the many forms required for my son's preschool, and the question asking for his dentist being left empty, that I seriously decided that I needed to get on the ball.

So yesterday I did a lot of research, phone call inquires and debating in order to find the right dentist for my child. About an hour later I had an appointment scheduled with Little Pearls Dentistry for Children. I chose them mostly because they are in-network for our insurance but also because they seemed to really have the children's comfort and interests in the forefront.

That night, I prepped Mason for what to expect. To help ease any anxiety that I was sure he might have. This is where I really love the internet. Mason in my lap, I pointed out the picture of the dentist, he is going to count your teeth. And if you have any questions or concerns you can ask him, just like your teacher. O.K.? I also pointed out the pediatric dental assistants to which Mason asked, Do you think the girl in green will clean my teeth? I read him the many testimonials from patients. Yes, the children. Things like: ...they give you a puppet to hold and let you watch your favorite t.v. show! Dude I don't get to watch my favorite t.v. show at my dentist. That is sooooo cool! And off to bed he went with a promise to bring whatever car he wanted, to hold instead of the puppet.

I woke up today having high hopes. Later in the afternoon, I left to pick up Mason from school. Getting my running hug, as always, I asked if he was ready for the dentist. Unfortunately we hadn't grabbed a car before we left and he pleaded to stop at home to get one. Being located just up the road from our neighborhood, always a plus when appointments are close to home, I didn't see a problem. Car now in hand and Mason in high spirits, we were off to the dentist.

We were greeted by a waterfall and fish tank as soon we walked in and were surprised with a Thomas train table around the corner. So while I filled out the necessary paperwork, Mason played with the train table while Sophie watched from the stroller. Once done, Mason got to choose a movie from a long list, he chose Aladdin, and holding on to my hand for comfort we headed to the back.

Holding tight to my hand, I placed Mason into the chair and the dental assistant promptly put on the movie. She was so great with Mason. Showing him the toothbrush she was going to use, how it worked and letting him touch it. Helping him put on sunglasses to shield his eyes from the light she needed to use to see in his mouth. I'm Dana by the way. I don't think I told you that. She worked as I stood in the background. The only issue Mason had was with the flavor we chose for him, raspberry. I don't like that, he said. The feeling? Does it tickle? Or the flavor? The flavor. Second time around he chose orange and liked it much better. I want orange every time o.k. mommy? Duly noted buddy.

He sat there so still, listening to her and following her directions when asked to open wider or chomp on the saliva ejector (yeah, I had to look that one up). I was so very proud of him. Do you mind if I take pictures? Camera at the ready. Go ahead. SWEET! Click. Click. Click. Enter Dr. Mike. He sat down, asked if there were any concerns on our end and started counting Mason's teeth. I turned my attention to Sophie, who was modeling excellent behavior herself. One of the nurses had given her a plush dolphin and she was showing it off, all smiles. So he is missing a tooth on the bottom. My attention shot back to the doctor. What? From what I was told this is not uncommon. Turns out instead of the normal four he only has three, missing an incisor. Sometimes the baby tooth just doesn't erupt. Nothing to do at this point but later on an x-ray will be necessary to see if an adult tooth is there or not.

Still trying to absorb the realization of my son missing a tooth (and the fact that I had no idea) I was hit with the news of a cavity. Crap. Really? No I didn't say that out loud but it's what I thought. And felt. The stain in between his two front teeth on the top, yup it's a cavity. And now I feel like such a failure as mother. While I have not taken very good care of my own teeth I really wanted to do better for my children. Still it is what it is, and I have to just accept it and move on. So I was told that we need to use a fluoride toothpaste and place a dab on the front and back on his teeth before bedtime. They said we could choose to separate the teeth to loosen the space between them to help. Not sure if I am comfortable with that. I'm not sure what it all entails, maybe sedation or numbing with a needle. Both of which would not go over well with Mason and cause him to fear the dentist in the future. So I guess we'll try the fluoride and see in six months how that goes. There was no mention of a filling or anything, so I guess it's not that bad but still it is a cavity. It was mentioned to stay away from foods with carbohydrates like goldfish and I seriously looked at the doctor like he was insane. He wants me to keep carbohydrates away from a three year old? Or he said to make sure to brush after he eats those foods. Realistically, I'm not thinking about brushing his teeth that many times a day and quite honestly he isn't in my presence for a whole three hours where he gets snacks. So honestly I don't see that happening too much.

I'm sure I'll be thought of as a horrible mother now because I don't brush my child's teeth more than just at bedtime but seriously I'm doing the best I can with strong personalities. I barely have enough time to get my son out of bed, fight with him to eat breakfast and then get dressed before heading out the door for carpool. And be on time. So to add tooth brushing on top of it is like, OH MY GOD, adding fuel to the fire. My daughter, I try to brush her teeth with the gum brush thing but, HELLO, she BITES MY FINGER and bites it hard. So bad that I have cried, certain she drew blood. You can bet I think twice before sticking any finger back in that death trap. But still I find myself so distraught over their heath, and now especially their teeth.

I went into this dental visit feeling hopeful that Mason would once again impress me with his coping skills, which in true fashion he did, but I left feeling depressed and concerned and a complete failure as a mother over a simple cavity and non-existent tooth.



just a note: my husband so proudly came up with the title and I just had to give him credit. (Bet you didn't think you'd see me write that did you, babe?)
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let's start over

Reading and catching up on my emails this rainy Sunday morning, I came upon the September newsletter from SARK. If you are not familiar with her I suggest you do so. An author and artist she in an inspiration to many. I was first introduced to her in college when a fellow classmate let me borrow the book, The Ultimate Nap Book: Change your life without getting out of bed. I was hooked. 10 years later: I own eleven books, follow her on twitter, read her blog and subscribe to her newsletter. Oh how great it is that technology allows me so many ways to indulge in wondrous inspiration.

As I said, her most recent newsletter caught my attention. A story about creative dreams. How they are not only projects, businesses or great ideas, but ways of living differently. She writes, "my mom was a grudge holder who was very concerned with being 'right.' I've carried on that tradition while having a creative dream of being and living differently...Don't you love how the world gives us new places and ways to practice?" Below is an excerpt of the story from her newsletter.

The story ended on a happy note and she made this statement: I was profoundly reminded that when we can live and behave differently than our reactive patterns we are also untangling other larger dynamics.

It got me thinking. Really thinking. Most recently about our beach trip and my actions or rather reactions to events that unfolded. Here is my story.

It was the second to last night and our big dinner out as a group. Without discussing it with everyone, Fred and I were just informed that we, as a group, were going to go leave for dinner at 6:30pm. Upon thinking about it Fred and I thought that was a bad idea. We made our concerns known. If we don't leave till 6:30pm, by the time we arrive at the restaurant, get seated and order our food it will be close to 7:30pm and the kids bedtime. While we want to eat and have a good time the kids will be losing steam and getting fussy. It made more sense to leave closer to 5:3o or 5:45pm in order to minimize the meltdowns. While one couple agreed with our assessment when mentioned to the other, they were less than agreeable. Their baby had to be fed at 5:30pm, their son was currently napping and they hadn't had showers yet. My solution to that was, get in the shower now, your son will wake up soon and you can feed the baby at the restaurant. Simple right?

Still they did what they wanted instead, which was stick to the not leaving till they wanted plan. So the closer it got to 6pm the more my kids started to get hungry, bored and meltdown. I knew we had to go and go soon. So I suggested that Fred and I head over there, get a table (my kids settled down and fed) and wait there for everyone else to join us when they were ready. This was of course ridiculous, we could just wait here, and I GOT MAD. I mean really PISSED OFF. I just sat there festering about how wrong they were and how much I disliked them, their selfishness and unwillingness to compromise. And I remained this way the rest of the night. Being unsocial at dinner, taking it out on my husband and kids. My anger turning to hurt. Even spending a few moments crying in the bathroom. How disappointed I was with our vacation this year, how I felt disrespected and disliked by my friends. How I so desperately wanted to go home. I left feeling detached from my friends when I should have felt more tight-knit. I was not feeling good about myself or the whole situation.

I've often thought about the whole trip and the events that resulted immediately and shortly thereafter. Mostly about my behavior. What I could have done differently. Like SARK, I too want to go back and say to everyone, "can we start over?" Because seriously, when I look at how I behaved, it was, again like SARK, self-righteous and defensive. While I was so upset over how I was being treated, how disgusted I was with the selfish behavior and uncaring toward other's feelings I too was acting just like them. I was uncaring how my unwillingness to let it go and unsocial behavior was causing uncomfortableness to those around me. And my anger, while maybe justified, was being directed to those who were undeserving of it's wrath.

We cannot change others, how they behave or think or feel. Change comes with a desire to be a better person, with respect for human life. As SARK says, we all have the opportunity to live and behave differently. And I for one have the desire.

So, let's start over shall we.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Beginnings

With the first week of school now under our belt, I can look back upon the myriad of emotions and thoughts I experienced leading up to this moment that has turned me into a parent of a preschooler. I am officially the mother of a preschooler. Yeah, it still doesn't feel normal for me to make that statement. It seemed like just yesterday he was my baby boy, learning to walk and uttering simple phrases. Today he is strapping on his backpack and excitedly thinking about what he might do during his time at school. But, for sure this is our life.

We had previously met his teacher two weeks earlier during a scheduled home visit. This is something I love about this school. Taking the time and making the extra effort to meet each student individually before the start of the school year. It really helped put some of my anxiety and fears to rest and I think for Mason as well. To have that chance to get acquainted with his teacher in a comfortable, familiar setting. So things aren't totally new the moment he walked in the first day. They discussed cars and our impending trip to the beach. His class are the Zebras, so she brought him a mask to color and then took his picture with it on. Gave him an assignment to decorate a place mat to bring in on his first day and generally left us all with a good feeling and high hopes for the year. We liked her.

Tuesday morning arrived all too early. In reality it was 7am and I'm sure most people would have been up for a few hours already. Woke up the kids, served breakfast, got everyone ready and headed out the door. I thought I'd be a ball of nerves this first day, ending with me in tears as I drove off without him. Having been through orientation the previous day I felt pretty confident things would be O.K.

We toured his classroom, found the picture his teacher took during the home visit, handed in his place mat full of everything he likes including photos of all of us. Even his teacher was impressed with his work. She was also impressed with Mason's brilliant memory when he commented to her, "I didn't see your car. The red Toyota corolla." That was because she parked somewhere else. Oh he makes me proud sometimes, that smart son of mine.

It ended with the parents heading out to the playground pavilion to be welcomed into the 2010-2011 school year and regaled with the schools awesome achievements, while Mason and his classmates spent some time with their teacher. I was pleasantly surprised and quite relieved when his teacher told us he did great.

I can't say that I didn't feel a little twinge or have some tears creep up as I watched my almost four year old, without fear or trepidation, walk hand in hand with the administrator and disappear into the school. Instead, I drove away feeling optimistic and grateful for holding it together in front of Mason. Eyes still dry, I rewarded myself with a Pumpkin Spice Latte and spent the rest of the morning catching up with an old friend and taking a much needed shower.

It was definitely a different dynamic in the house with Mason gone. A slower pace and A LOT quieter. Though I found my mind wandering to questions of how he was adapting to his new environment. Did he miss me? Is he playing well with his classmates? Is he following directions? Is he happy? Is he making friends? When I pick him up will he tell me he had fun and likes school? I didn't have to wait long for my answers.

Three hours isn't much time in the grand scheme and before I knew it I was in the car headed back to car pool. Highly anticipating what I would find. I wasn't excited about the massive line of cars that stretched out into the street (especially compared to the fast drop off that morning). However, finding Mason amongst the crowd of kids was well worth that wait. And seriously, I almost lost it for real. Feeling the tears well up and the cry rise up into my throat, sitting there in the car pool line waiting my turn, watching my son holding and swinging hands with his teacher. It was the pride I felt, for my son, for myself as his mother, knowing how much he has changed in just a short amount of time. Thinking, how grown up he looks with back pack on.

He never ceases to amaze me, this little man of mine. How well he adapts to situations I panic over and how calm and easy he finds solutions to everything. The rest of the week I parked my car and walked up to his school to get him. Per his request, but after the long line I sat in the first day, I was happy to do it. And the big running hug (usually reserved for daddy) I was guaranteed, yeah I really enjoy that.

Tomorrow night is Back to School night and I really can't wait to hear all about the things they do in class, see things Mason has created and hear how well he is performing. Now matter what I hear tomorrow though, it can't beat the sweet little voice tell me when I ask, "Did you have a good time at school today?"

"I have a good time every day, mommy." Yeah I think we made the right choice.

1. Standing in front of the school sign, 2. Orientation Day, 3. Reading his name tag, 4. Walking to class with daddy, 5. hanging up backpack on his very own hook, 6. pointing out his name for attendance, 7. Discovering the rice box, 8. His classroom, 9. The helping hands and weather board -he is the door holder, 10. showing us the potty, 11. Pose with Mommy before leaving, 12. ready for school, 13. Pose with little sister on first day, 14. Car pool, 15. Waiting in carpool for drop off, 16. drop off, 17. My brave big boy headed off to first day of preschool, 18. Pick up, 19. Walk up pick up, 20. Waiting to be picked up, 21. He caught my eye, 22. after the running hug, walking back to the car, 23. getting in the car, 24. end of week one
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Right Now...

I am enjoying a snack of pretzels and sour cream with my son. I picked up this snack on our trip to the Outer Banks with friends and it stuck. Thanks Amy.

I am enjoying this nice fall weather with my windows open and fresh air filling my house. A nice change to the stuffy, sticky humidity of the summer.

I am enjoying the season finally of Grey's anatomy on Hulu (well maybe enjoying is the wrong word cause OMG!) as I catch a few moments of me time on this unexpected day of no Grandma Sunday.

I am looking forward to my Redskins kicking some Texans ass as game two of this awesome 2010 season approaches.

In the meantime I am working on a post about my sons first week of preschool as well as one about our recent beach trip. Look for those in the coming weeks. Hope you all are enjoying the return of school and gorgeous crisp fall weather.
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