Everywhere we look we see signs of the virus, steps to prevent the spread and the inescapable ads and emails of every single company telling us ‘we are all in this together’. People wearing masks when out getting groceries. The lack of the need of gasoline for a car that spends days in the driveway. The stay at home orders have been for us inconvenient, but hardly a hardship. My heart breaks for the many that this is not the case.

While being at home, we’ve made crafts, continued our homeschooling curriculum and have gotten outside in some incredible Pacific Northwest weather days. As an introvert, I’m good most days. When chatting with my people, we all seem to have a wide range of emotions on any given day. Life is continuing on, but we are modifying. Some are no big deal, and then other days we are sloths trying to crawl through the hours that feel eternal. Time warps in quarantine. Some days are good, others feel yucky and every shade in between. In short, it’s been weird.

After 9 weeks of being at home, with the exception of the grocery store, I had a dentist appointment today. It felt odd knowing I actually had something scheduled on the calendar. What do I even wear? Should I leave early? (New dentist, unsure of exact location – duh. Google.) All the weird anxious thoughts I usually have at the dentist, plus mush for brains due to lack of normal socialization.

I carefully selected a shirt to go with a pair of capris. I picked out sandals. Every time I’m in the dentist’s chair looking at my feet I wish I’d put in some effort into making my feet look presentable. Or at the very least worn closed toed shoes. Not that the dentist cares, but in my head the dentist totally appraises each patient’s feet. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, I am aware that in reality they likely don’t give a rip. Yes, I have imagined the dentists and hygienists laughing at patients feet after a long day. You don’t think these bizarre thoughts and imagine crazy conversations? Hmmm, perhaps just me then.

With all of that rolling around my head, I shaved my legs. I clipped, filed and painted my toenails. I moisturized my legs and elbows.

For. the. dentist. I dressed up for the dentist. Okay, that’s a lot, even for me.

After sitting in the waiting room for a few moments, I was escorted back to my extra-sanitized chair. ‘Please do NOT act like a weirdo who hasn’t spoken to adults in real life in 9 weeks!’ I instructed myself. ‘Don’t be awkward!’

Fidgety and hoping I would be comfortable with the new dentist, I settled in and chatted with the hygienist who seemed quiet, reserved and…well, that is all I could tell from the eyes up. Having curly hair herself, we discussed the thing that all curlies discuss – products. It made us both relax. ‘I can do this, I am doing this,’ I cheered myself on silently. ‘You are human-ing!’

By the end of the cleaning and consult on work to be completed, the hygienist and I were agreeing that life felt hard and disjointed. The dentist told us of his started home improvement projects, and that since he was back to the office he’d now have to manage his time better than before to get everything finished. They hygienist laughed, admitting her pants were now tight after living in sweats for a month.

We’re all just out of whack. To varying degrees no doubt, but out of sorts nonetheless. It’s all just….odd. In the meantime, I have painted toes, shaved and moisturized legs, and of course, clean teeth to go with my quarantine brain.


A Year’s Difference: Anesthesia Take 2

After looking back at the last time we had some dental work done I was amazed by the growth of Jacob in just 18 months.

He played with his sister in the waiting room pretty contentedly. He put on the pull-up without a fight. When telling him about the upcoming appointment, he was fine with it “as long as I don’t have to drink the yucky drink”. With each day, he gets better and better at recovering from tantrums, and not having as many meltdowns.

He still didn’t like the shot (duh!) and he still wanted daddy and not me, which was really no surprise. But I wonder if it will ever be easy for him. I pray that as he grows, he’ll outgrow some of his anxiety. Or at least have the tools to manage it.

Meanwhile, little sister didn’t have any dental work required and was bouncing off the walls. We are also firmly ensconced in the “why?” phase. Have I mentioned how much I do not like I loathe the “why?” phase. I foolishly thought we’d bypassed this sanity destroyer unscathed.

I was wrong.

“Why does Jacob have to have a filling?”
“Why does he have to take sleepy medicine?”
“Why do I have to leave Jacob alone?”
“Why is he tired?”
“Why can’t I run around the office screaming?”
“Why can’t I set my own hair on fire?”
“Why can’t I eat this snail?”
“Why do we have to be here so looooong!?”

And that was the tip of the “Why!?” iceberg.

Jake is recovering quite nicely. Hannah is still bouncing off the walls. I’m ready for bedtime. (Dear hubby was ready about 8 hours ago.) Here’s hoping that brushing and flossing will keep the cavity creeps at bay – cause we’ve had more than enough dental trauma!

Wonder-Full Wednesday: General Anesthesia Edition

So this week, along with moving and accepting a writing gig, we also had both kids in to see the dentist. Of course in our house, the dentist visits are quite the ordeal. So much so, that they both had to go under general anesthesia for their procedures. Oy. Reading the list of possible complications was like listening to one of those ads where the medicine they are selling will have side effects galore, and MIGHT cure the one thing that ails. (Restless Leg Syndrome, anyone?)

Watching my kids as they went under and watching them come out of GA, it got me to thinking. (Shocking, I know.) Thanks to powerful narcotics, here’s the parenting lessons gleaned from the day:

1. I am not in control. Ouch. Mistakenly, I often assume that Jake thinks the same way as I do. We forget as parents that kids haven’t developed the ability to reason yet. And, I’ve discovered, this point is exaggerated to the nth degree in my son. In his book, What Your Explosive Child Is Trying to Tell You: Discovering the Pathway from Symptoms to Solutions, Douglas A. Riley puts it like this:

Explosive children are prone to make assumptions about what is going to happen in the near future. These assumptions – their mental road maps of the future-can be like little “movies” of what they think is going to happen next. Road maps get elevated in their minds to the status of 100 percent certain, totally gonna happen probabilities. When what the child believes is about to happen does not come to pass, his road map disintegrates. Parents who say that their child behaves as if his world has ended because they stopped at the drugstore when the child thought they were going straight to the grocery store do not understand just how right they are.  When a child’s road map does not come true, his world DOES cease to exist for a few moments. The resulting dramatic tantrum shows us how overwhelmed some children can become when faced with anything unexpected.”

Add in a shot (which all kids love!), extreme fear of dentists, doctors, and people messing with him, and voila! Primo meltdown! While I am not in control, my job as his mom is to help him navigate those maps and to understand that his world is, in fact, not coming to an end. Some days this is easier than others.

2. I am not alone. In response to my previous post, An Answered Prayer, I received calls and comments with other parents identifying some of the same issues. It’s been a somewhat frustrating journey in that we struggle to find some kind of label, because if we have the label, we can then begin to “fix it”. Not that we would wish this anxiety/explosive behavior on anyone or their child, there is some measure of comfort in knowing we aren’t alone in this. While in the waiting room, we chatted with another mother whose child exhibited many of the same behaviors as ours. In an odd way, it was comforting to share anecdotes and have her nod, and say, “Yep. Been there!” It’s a validation thing. I’m not crazy. I’m not a bad parent. He is who he is and I have to gain tools to help him navigate the world. And the extra bonus was that her son was a year older – she assured me that while her son was not without challenges, the growth between 4 and 5 was enormous and the recovery time from a meltdown kept getting smaller and smaller. Can I get a hallelujah for a light at the end of the tunnel?!

3.  Judge not, lest ye be judged.  I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. A little grace and compassion for that stressed out mama in the store goes a long (LONG) way. It’s too easy to make snap judgements based on a 3 minute interlude we see in an aisle. We don’t know what they are going through. For the most part, parents are doing the best they can. As Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better”. Let’s all do better and extend a little grace.

4. Really. You aren’t in control. Yep. I did need this one twice, but for different reasons. When your child is ill, it can be so scary. Granted, this little adventure was a dental visit (fillings, crowns, cleaning, etc.), but its not such a stretch to imagine what could go wrong, complications or worse. We are fortunate to have had expert care for our children. Too often (especially with military healthcare) we are but widgets on an assembly line. I never once felt that way during this adventure. I had to trust them to care for our kids. I. Am. Not. In. Control. (Perhaps I might just be CC’d on the memo?!)

5.  Even with the same gene pool, same parents, and same environment, my kids are individuals. It’s amazing to me how different they are. But more than that, with the same basic procedure done for them both, how they were so true to their personalities during recovery. Hannah was her usual flibbertigibbet-self and asking for popsicles shortly after her procedure. Jake was sleepy and we had difficulty keeping him awake for the 2 hours after. He was irritated (ticked off!) that we kept waking him up, over and over and over! The next day, he still was a bit sleepy, not quite himself. She adapts well, recovers quickly. He needs a bit more love, a bit more time, and a lot more patience.

6. Play. I realized the next day how much I need to just play. Not all the time, there are times when dishes need to be done, the checkbook needs balancing, etc., but when they are sick, I go into Mama Bear/Protector/Caretaker of Sick Baby mode. When in this mode, my agenda just goes on back burner and I play. I’m present with them, not thinking of the 5000 other things I “should” be doing. I need to do more of that.

Not too bad, for a day (ALL DAY LONG) at the dentist. I am thankful that I get to be their mom. Despite any given challenges, I’m grateful my son was not born to someone who wasn’t willing to gain the tools to raise him without anger, violence, or ridicule. There are times I want to beat my head against the wall, to be sure. But I am grateful still. Somedays I think our kids “raise” us as much as we raise them. I wouldn’t want to be raised by any other 2 kids on the planet!

I Knew This Day Was Coming…


Attempted to get Jacob in the dentists’ chair for a filling. No go. Complete tantrum melt down as he would not drink the “magic” drink that would make him “consciously sedated”. Never mind the fact that he wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink from midnight on, ensuring a crabby mood. I’d probably be crabby too if someone got between me and breakfast.
As a result of Hannah’s age, and Jake’s inability to tolerate the dentist, both of them will have to be under anesthesia for their dental work. Not looking forward to it, but the upside is that in one appointment, all their needed work will be done. One shot. No return visits for this or that. We can finally go back to visits every six months and hopefully get to “enjoying” the dentist. Heck, I’d settle for tolerating the dentist. Yay teeth.
So after that trauma, and the 3.5 hour nap that followed (YES!) we hit the playground for some fun. Had a great time, but I wasn’t in the mood to cook, kitchen wasn’t cleaned, blah blah blah. We hit our little cafe up the road from our house and got some Mickey Mouse pancakes. I had a delicious avocado chicken sandwich! YUM!
Then it happened.
The moment I’ve been dreading since the day I found out I was pregnant.
Jacob: “Mommy! Look! That guy is a GIIIIIIIIIIIANNNNTTTT!!” (We watched The Princess Bride a couple of days ago and we just learned what a “giant” was. Thank you, Andre.)
Too bad the floor doesn’t have holes that can swallow you up on command. I’d settle for that invisibility cloak from Harry Potter. The man in question of course was not a giant, but rather an overweight man. And of course Jake has yet to master his “inside voice” and currently only has one volume – LOUD.
We of course had “the talk” promptly when we got into the car. “If you can’t say something nice….etc.”
Hopefully tomorrow will not include dentists or giants.
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