Even though he wasn’t crying, I could tell that he was afraid. He didn’t want anyone to know but he wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding his fear. I guess that parents are just good at noticing those sorts of things.
When my three-year-old son got out of the car, his older brother asked him if he was scared.
He finally admitted that he was.
I grabbed him and prayed over him. Fear has a way of creating teachable moments.
“Father, take this fear away from him. Help him to be brave and for everything to go okay.”
We walked inside the dentist’s office. It was his first time going as a patient. By now his older brother was a pro and was doing his best to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Between that and Nick Jr. on the waiting room TV, he was starting to calm down.
Because it was his first visit, the lady on the other side of the glass handed me somewhere around 742 pages of questions regarding my son’s dental history.
There was a question that asked if he breathed through his mouth. I don’t even know what that means. Doesn’t everyone breathe through their mouth from time to time? And what does this have to do with teeth?
On the last page I noticed a bunch of boxes waiting for check marks. I obliged.
After I checked 10 or 15 boxes in a row I realized that it was probably a good idea to pay attention to what I was checking. According to my check marks, my son had hepatitis, HIV, something called Leukoplakia and was a convicted felon who did not belong in this country.
But at least he doesn’t breathe through his mouth.
I went back up to the lady behind the glass window and showed her my mistake. I tried to laugh it off but she wasn’t in the laughing mood. She handed me a coloring book, told me to sit in the corner and called me a mouth-breather.
Finally, they called for my two sons.
The oldest walked in like he owned the place.
The youngest was a bit more hesitant.
“Dad, you can go with me?”
I assured him that I would be right there with him the whole time.
I kept my promise and stood at the door while a dental assistant hooked my son up to some machine that took pictures of his teeth. This is the part where I thought that I would lose him but I was wrong. He took it like a man. Still no tears.
The dental assistant at the next station introduced him to that vacuum cleaner tool that dentists love to stick in people’s mouths. Again, he surprised me by remaining calm.
Before she started vacuuming, the dental assistant asked him a few questions. That’s when I started to get scared.
“What did Santa Clause bring you for Christmas?”
A while back I explained to my sons that Santa Clause was a pastor who lived a long time ago but wasn’t alive anymore. I dared them to tell the next person who asked them about Santa that he was dead. We got a big laugh out of that one. I never gave much thought to the idea of a dental assistant in a crowded room being the next person to ask them about Santa.
Now I was giving it a fair amount of thought.
Please don’t tell her that Santa is dead. Please don’t tell her that Santa is dead.
I eventually interrupted and said something about his favorite present being, a train and “big hugs from daddy.” Close one.
Are you brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing?
Wait! Twice a day?! When was this supposed to start? And what is flossing?
I felt like I was back in 8th grade math class when the teacher asked the class to take out their homework that I knew nothing about.
He told her that he was brushing twice a day and flossing. I probably shouldn’t be proud of my son for lying but I was. I owed him big for that one.
Finally, the real dentist came around and gave both of my sons a Garfield sticker for being a part of The No Cavity Club.
“Fine teeth. Fine teeth. Both boys.”
They were thrilled.
And then he told me that, judging from the x-rays, both boys were going to need braces in a few more years. Braces, from what I hear, cost a little over $231,000.
So that’s when I called the dentist a mouth-breather, gathered up my coloring books and took my sons to Chick-fil-a for a milkshake.
Anybody know of a good dentist?