Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zoe vs. the Cavity Creeps

As a follow-up to last week's post, here's what happened at Zoe's first dental appointment, aka the time I took Zoe to the dentist so she could cry and scream and generally carry on while she unsterilized tons of dental implements before we exited under a cloud of shame and failure.

It's funny because it's true.

I only took her because the doctor said she was overdo for her first dental visit. As if I didn't know. As a Card-Carrying Guilty Mother, of course I knew Zoe was "supposed to have" her first appointment at one year of age, when she didn't even have all her teeth yet but could gum a finger to the point of agony. But I put it off.
When she turned two, it was really time to take her. But by then I knew she would never sit still for it and I thought, with a hope borne of sleeplessness, maybe she'd be more agreeable when she turned three.
Well, she turned three months ago, and soon after her birthday was when we had the appointment where the doctor had to shout to be heard over Zoe's vociferous objections to being in a doctor's office, and one of the things he shouted was this bit about the dentist.
Based on an avalanche of evidence---up to and including her behavior at the doctor that day, which earned her exactly zero lollipops---I had . . . misgivings.
But I Mommed-up (if that's not a thing, it should be), turning to that time-honored prescription for making people do things they don't want to do: propaganda. I had a two-pronged plan. For prong one, I emphasized the importance of a clean smile through encouraging tooth brushing, reading getting-ready-for-bed books that featured tooth brushing, and plying her with informational sound bites such as, You need healthy teeth to eat cookies.
Prong two was telling her what might happen if she didn't take care of her teeth. Here I offered up personal testimonials involving root canals, gum scaling, and apicoectomies.
The only thing remaining was to promise her a toy if she let the dentist examine her. And thus, on the wings of promises and threats, the day arrived.
Now, no one likes going to the dentist. Pop culture has stigmatized them. With good reason. From Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors to the Nazi war criminal/dentist played by Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man they are the most feared practitioners of the medical profession, more so because even people with medical insurance may not have dental coverage, or even if you do, you may go over the maximum allowance every single damn execrable year because of your cavity-filled, crown-worthy, receding-gum disaster of a mouth.

The real pain comes when you see the bill. 

Upon Zoe's arrival, the dentist very wisely (I assume that, like all dentists, she hoards the wisdom teeth she removes from people's mouths and then melts them down and sucks their essence through straws and that's how she gains wisdom and perhaps immortality---not sure about that last; it's a working theory) decided to let Zoe have full run of the place since there were no other patients there. Zoe went into each of the exam rooms much like our fat cat would, exploring every corner looking for treats or exits.
Eventually it was time for her to SIT IN THE CHAIR. Zoe's eyes went from the dentist to the chair to me. She did not move. Much like our fat cat.
So the dentist introduced Zoe to Mr. Thirsty, the device that slurps up the excess saliva produced in the mouths of victims, I mean, patients. This has apparently worked with other children. 
However, Zoe reacted like I thought she would, retreating behind the chair and then hugging the wall like she was auditioning for the part of Inmate #3 in a women's prison movie. I tried to pull her out but got tangled in some wires, and together we almost knocked down the metal tray holding all the dental instruments (Me: Look, so shiny! Zoe: Don't hand me that bullshit, Mommy!). 
The stainless-steel medical paraphernalia flying around made me feel as if we were reenacting the scene from Aliens where Ripley and Newt are trapped in the infirmary by Paul Reiser from Mad About You except I was the facehugger and Zoe was Sigourney Weaver and I'm not sure who the dentist was. A Russian Vasquez? Helen Hunt?

Like Zoe, Newt is unacquainted with hair brushing.

Note to myself: Next Halloween Zoe and I should totally go as Ripley and Newt. Her hairstyle is already approaching "Lone Survivor of the Colony on LV-426." Plus, she's got a doll she drags around by its hair, so it's only a matter of time before the head parts ways with its body and then it will be just like Newt's toy. And to be Ellen Ripley all I need acquire are shoes with major lifts and an unflattering haircut.

I opened the drawer in our coffee table and found this.
I can only assume it's Zoe's homage to Frenzy.

Frenzy dir. by Alfred Hitchcock

Back to our visit, just in time for it to end. The dentist suggested we try again in six months. Sure, I said, lying through my trouble-plagued teeth.
I wanted to be a little mad at Zoe, but when we got home she took my hand and said, "Sit with me, Mommy, and let's talk together and we can be best friends."
I marveled how she didn't even sound manipulative as she smiled at me, a Cheerio stuck in her teeth.
Zoe: 32; Universe: 0


  1. Oh, momming up should TOTALLY be a thing if it's not! (and I had no idea they recommend going to the dentist at 1 now! I didn't take either of my kids until they were 3!) Those first couple of visits are a damn nightmare! GAH! (I love the Frenzy homage...Bwaahahahahahahaha!) --Lisa PS. Her "let's talk together and be best friends" is the cutest thing I've ever heard. I'd go for that now even at my kids ages of 10 or 13. If either one of them said that, I don't care what they did, it would all be forgiven. SO PRECIOUS!!

    1. Haha. Yes. Her cuteness is definitely the most formidable weapon in her arsenal. Yay, another Hitchcock fan--the scariest thing about that movie was the hairstyles.

  2. LMAO. I wish I could come up with a more original comment for your posts but seriously, I'm usually just whooping and nodding and crying tears of laughter the whole time. We took H to the dentist about a month ago and I made the mistake of speaking to the Italian doctor in Italian, so then she rattled off things about flossing (YES SHE EXPECTS ME TO FLOSS HIS TEETH) and cavities and other things super fast, which is bad enough in your first language let alone your second. Basically every night now he screams NO FILO NO FILO! (no floss!) while I hold him down with both legs and my arm and twist his head toward me and floss his four front teeth. IT'S AMAZING.

    1. They expect us to floss them! I don't even floss my own teeth. I'm lucky I brush. I can't even imagine how she'd react if I approached her with tiny white rope. Hmmmm.

  3. I can't remember when I first took my kids to the dentist, but I can damn near guarantee it wasn't until they had teeth. I'm pretty sure I didn't take them until they were around 5. Taking a 1 y.o. or a toddler to the dentist is sheer lunacy. And, you're not a bad mom if you don't. They want you to take them to the doctor every 5 minutes for everything. Now kids get braces at 10. It's a little ridiculous. I also may have forgotten to take my children to the doctor for they're annual check up, but what's the big deal. They're still alive.

    1. Haha. Now that's the kind of mothering I aspire to! I wore a retainer for many years as a child and THEN they wanted to do braces. Forget it.

  4. Propaganda is the way to go with toddlers (they're still toddlers at three, right?) I propagandaed pooping and it worked. As for Mr. Thirsty, I think I would have had the exact same reaction had he been formally introduced to me this way...

    1. Now I have to know how you propagandaed pooping. I'm getting nowhere fast with that one.

  5. I had one that hid under tables!!!! I feel your pain.

    1. Haha. They are small and wily. Thanks for commenting.