I know that’s cliché, but I occasionally I need to remember to embrace that sentiment. I’d be a lot more relaxed.
Today we set out for the dentist with Henry. Without going into the gory details of past visits, let me sum it up simply. Henry + Dentist = PHOBIA. (Notice the all-caps emphasis.)
I had originally planned to start the day with mass because for the first time in two weeks, thanks to baby, I had a decent night’s sleep, and Richard was going to drop off Lil. We were ready but then I opted out. I decided that expecting Henry to sit still when he was facing “the chair” was just too much. In my world, an hour with the Lord at mass can do wonders. In this seven-year-old boy’s, it’s not a realistic expectation.
On our way to the office, Henry sat nervously in the back of the van only once asking, “Could you please turn around Mom?” Which was already much better than our last experience. At about the same time, I noticed the car ahead of us traveling rather slowly. It was an old mid-80s model Pontiac Sunbird. The driver and passenger appeared to be wearing hoods. That’s sketchy, I thought. It was a little early on a Monday for casing Mack Avenue, but you know, these times they are a changin’.
With my attention back to my boy, I told him I would not turn around, but I was proud of the way he was facing this appointment. Then I changed lanes, sped past the turtle-paced Sunbird, glanced in my side view mirror to see closer than it may appear that the gangsta ride I was passing were really two older religious sisters. Not casing, but being cautious. Not hooded, but habited. The old car was actually very tidy. And not what I expected.
Richard met us at the appointment, just in case. We said as much of the St. Michael prayer as a one-flight elevator ride would accommodate and then proceeded down the hall to the office. And I didn’t expect this: Henry faced his fears head on.
He asked for an explanation of every tool and every procedure. The dentist and her staff were great. They were there with him at the other appointments. They too were anticipating a different experience.
At one point, when they left the room, I reminded Henry it was all about making choices. He could make the choice to be brave. Of course he quickly reminded me that he could also choose not to be brave. True. But he didn’t. He held on and jittered his way through what just two weeks ago would have been unthinkable for him. He asked Richard to hold his hand, but then let go whenever he felt confident he could handle it. And at the end, while still reclined in the chair with two pairs of gloved hands working in and around his mouth, he gave us a discreet two thumbs up.
Like my surprise with the slow-drivin’ gangsta sistas, I need to remember with my children to look beyond my expectations. Although I clearly set up with them how I expect them to behave, what I expect them to accomplish, I realize it’s not really up to me. I certainly never expected my son to be so afraid of the dentist in the first place. But then, I also never expected him to turn around, face his fear and in spite of himself be so strong. Pretty soon maybe in a G. Gordon Lilly moment he’ll be strapping himself to a tree during a lighting storm or eating a rat or something …
Now I only need to work on a way for Lillian to overcome her fear of loud toilets.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.