Monday, February 28, 2005

You Know That Scene in Marathon Man?*

Sean had his first trip to the dentist last week. It did not go well.

At first, he was quite upbeat. Beforehand, we had talked all about what would happen at the dentist and how Sean's teeth would get nice and clean (Sean is big on "nice and clean"). He even seemed to be looking forward to it. In the waiting room, he played with some toys: no worries, no fear. In the examining room (or whatever the dental equivalent is called), he cheerfully climbed into the dentist chair.

Then the chair tilted back.

I could see in his eyes that he was beginning to panic. When the hygienist began cleaning his teeth, he started sobbing. He continued to cry for the rest of the visit, up to and including the dentist's exam. My soothing words had no effect at all. When the dentist was finished, I could finally hold Sean. He clung to me as if I were a life preserver. I know Sean was more traumatized than I, but I believe I came in a close second.

(Amidst the torrent of tears, I gleaned the following from the dentist: Since Sean's baby teeth are quite crowded and crooked, we can look forward to hefty orthodontic work after his second teeth arrive. Yay!)

Now what? I can launch another public relations campaign as the next visit draws closer, I guess. And I am considering finding a different dentist. Although everyone there was kind and pleasant, they told me that after a child is 3 years old, they prefer that the child go into the examining room alone. The parent stays in the waiting room until the dentist sees the child. After this traumatic experience, I can't imagine letting Sean face it again all by himself.

Is it just me, or is 3 too young for flying solo at the dentist?

*After I viewed that scene in its entirety, my image of Laurence Olivier took a decided turn for the worse. No longer do I think of Laurence Olivier, essayer of Hamlet and Heathcliff, possibly abusive husband of Vivien Leigh. Now it's Laurence Olivier, sadistic Nazi dentist. And Zeus. Neither leaves a favorable lasting impression.