Yesterday was E's fated first dentist appointment. I found the best office. There is only one dentist. She has a background in child psychology. They advertise that they accept our insurance and that they accept difficult patients. They're modern and child-oriented and I was as optimistic as I could be given the circumstances, which is to say, our elder daughter has a stubborn will and many sensory issues, which is to say, not very optimistic at all.
That was still far too optimistic.
We talked for several weeks about the upcoming appointment. We bought the books recommended by parents of her friends that eased all her friends' concerns. We anticipated what would happen. I even scheduled the first appointment as a "consultation," not a cleaning, which is a service this office provides for skittish first-timers. We were just to meet the dentist. The office suggested they would show E how to count how many teeth she has as a pretext for making her comfortable with somebody else's fingers in her mouth. There would be no poking instruments, no funny flavors, no whirring noises. Just a tour and an introduction and a counting game and a sticker for her trouble.
And E knew all of this, to which she would still say, But I'm not going, Mama.
To which I replied each time, "But I love you, and yes you are."
Yesterday morning she pulled out her diplomat hat and offered a concession. Okay, Mama. I'll go to the dentist.
But I'm not opening my mouth.
Isn't she a charmer?
We arrived to her new dentist's office. It has orange and yellow sparkly linoleum for floors and cartoons playing on a wall-mounted plasma screen. It has a child-sized easel perched at the front door. Yesterday's message in chalk said, "Welcome new patient E." She loved that. The restroom had a regular toilet and next to it, a preschool-sized toilet. It had a regular sink and a shortie sink. There was a regular waiting room and a waiting room filled with books and dolls and indoor tricycles. For older kids, a Wii and an X-Box sit, inviting, distracting. It is the most child-engaging medical facility I've ever seen.
I busied myself with paperwork and she busied herself by stealing the little camera out of my purse and documenting the lion's den. She photographed her name on the easel and peed on the short potty and rode the red tricycle and generally ran around having a wonderful time.
And then they called her name. At which point I grew a tail as she buried her face in my coccyx and wouldn't be cajoled out for all the princess sticker inventory in the office.
Only because I walked myself into the treatment room and she wouldn't detach from my behind did I successfully get her inside. She wouldn't look at the plush kangaroo's teeth. She wouldn't look at pictures of her teeth on the computer screen. She wouldn't let the dentist count her teeth. Only because she was crying so hard was the dentist able to poke the little mirror in enough to reassure me that she hasn't damaged her teeth yet with her grinding. They gave her a sugar-free purple popsicle, a token for operating the bouncy-ball spitting gumball machine, and a princess sticker just to calm her down enough to catch her attention to tell her nobody else would be touching her face.
We left and went to the library and then met her daddy and sister at home. "How did it go?" the lovely husband asked her. Time heals all wounds and so she answered, I love going to the dentist!
The appointment for her actual cleaning is in three weeks. I'm really looking forward to it.