July 27, 2011

Lessons in the Dentist Office

**This post was written on May 20.  Stuck in draft mode for all this time, but it's out now***

Saylor has been complaining for a short bit about one of his teeth bothering him.  He said that when he chewed, or bit down on that particular side, it was uncomfortable and annoying.  We're leaving for a long road trip (Life is Good in Vancouver, WA)  in just a few days, so we thought it wise to visit the dentist... if one could get us in on such short notice.  We called a dentist he'd seen when he was 3, and had done really well with during that time.

We arrived, she took digital x-rays, discovering that the discomfort he was feeling was not because of a cavity, but because a new tooth was pushing down and the other tooth would be falling out within the next couple months (her estimation).  He decided to just have it pulled now and skip two more months of annoyance.   He powered through the 'pinch' of getting numbed... one in the gum area and one in the roof of the mouth. :(   Then.  He sat.  For an Hour.

This particular dentist works solo, evidently to the point of doing her own paper work, etc.  While she's asking me the details... name, address, email, phone number, insurance card; my son lays in the chair dreading what's coming.  And the longer he sits there, the more his mind goes and the more frightened he becomes.

I was on the phone asking about finance options (upon her insistence) and she went back into the room where Saylor was.  The person I was speaking to needed to speak with her, so I came around the corner to find Saylor fully sobbing in the chair.  Turns out, she'd waited so long that he now needed another shot.  And I step into a conversation that went something like this:
 "I will allow your mom to get you settled, but if you don't calm down I won't let her stay here with you.  She can stay for a few minutes to get you settled, but if you don't settle right now, she will have to leave the room.  She is not going to rescue you.  This is not negotiable.  Do you understand me? "  All of these words were said in the most un-loving of ways.  It made my stomach turn.

I held his hand.  I spoke softly to him and re-assured him everything was going to be alright.

The dentist went to chat with the person on the phone.  Saylor said he wanted to leave, go home.  He didn't care if he had to live with his tooth just the way it was....  "I just want to go home," he urged, tears flowing. 

I moved the tray out of his way, and helped him up.  I told him that if he wanted to go home we could go home.  I said it with love and acceptance.  He was afraid to leave the room, "she's gonna see me", he said.  I told him not to worry, just to walk out and go wait for me in the van.

She finished on the phone and I stood there, waiting to see what her reaction was going to be when she saw he wasn't in the chair anymore.  I told her he changed his mind, he was done and would just leave the tooth to come out on it's own.  She said she'd like a chance to talk to him, that she was good at getting kids to settle, that "that's what she does".  So, she went *out to the van* to speak to him.  That conversation included more coercion and guilt tactics to try to get him to do something that he did not want to do.  Needless to say, he didn't budge. ;) 

What a bizarre experience.

I am proud of Saylor for listening to his gut, for being brave enough to say when enough was enough.  I can learn a thing or two from him in that regard.

I am so happy that I followed my heart in that moment, rather than what I thought I 'should' do, or what someone else expected me to do.  I looked at my child.  It was simple to know what to do.  *Listen* to him.  *Honor* him.  Right then, right there.  

It's absolutely insane that someone would dare talk to a child that way.  Is that what happens when an adult goes to the dentist and has fear or apprehension?  Are they bullied and coerced and forced into shit they aren't ok with?  Unreal.

I paid what we owed for her time, the x-rays and the shots and left feeling like I did the right thing for my son.  I could have easily made him do what she wanted.  Thank God I didn't.  I'm more concerned about what my children think of me than the random man on the street... or the dentist. 

John talked to Saylor about it later that day and told him some really beautiful things that made Saylor smile.  He also said some really nice things to me that made me smile.  That John is pretty damn out of this world.

Our boy is happy.  That's what counts.  And, he knows his parents are his partners.  We've shown it in action.  Words are easy, it's what we *do* that shows the people we love what we're really all about.