I had an orthodontist appointment and no choice but to take the boys with me.
My orthodontist and his staff are extraordinary; they are award-winning in the city of Denver. And after the morning I gave them, they should receive a dozen more awards.
Before we entered, I gave the boys the speech: obey, obey, obey. And when you’re not sure what to do, obey.
It’s an open office, so all of us patients are in one room. I’m trying to paint the scene, but I’m not describing it well; it sounds like a hospital ward from the 1940s. Honestly, it’s classy and dignified and beautiful. The office is aesthetically tremendous, with live aspen trees growing from floor to ceiling. It feels more like a spa than an ortho office.
And I had to take my kids with me.
When the receptionist called my name, I walked the boys back with me, seated them on the bench by the window, pointed to the cushion seams that would define their boundaries from one another, and equipped them with my iPhone. Netflix, games, whatever. I coparent with technology.
Tucker is nearly seven and approaching first grade, and he has become quite masterful at following directions.
Tyler is… well, he’s Tyler.
As we waited for the doctor, Tyler climbed into my lap in the dental chair.
What’s this for?
Why do they need that?
He pointed and asked about every tool in our proximity. I answered and answered.
He picked up the mirror on the table beside us, and we made faces at each other in the reflection. That was just fine, quiet and pacifying.
Until he realized that if he pointed the mirror just right at the reflection of his bent knees, it looked just like a butt.
“Tucker! Look at this! A butt! Look! It’s my butt!”
(Remember, we’re in a room filled with other patients and staff.)
I was shushing and trying to point the mirror in another direction, but he had a firm grasp on the handle. And he couldn’t really hear me over his own giggles.
And actually, it was pretty funny.
How about an ortho treatment? Anyone in for that? I am. I’m in. Let’s do this thing. Oh, the doctor is with someone else? No worries. I’m so good with this plan. Loving it. Really.
“Tyler. Tyler. Hey, Tyler. Let’s sing a song,” I whispered in his ear. A careful, gentle distraction from the buttocks in the mirror.
Two side notes:
1. Tyler likes for me to say poems or sing songs that he knows, and then he fills in the blank with the words I leave out. A charming little game, most days.
2. The real words to the song are:
Well, I have a thing to tell you and it won’t take long,
the way I feel about you is a kind of a song.
It’s start with an Oooooh, and ends with a kiss,
and all along the middle it goes on like this:
It goes, Oooooh, Snuggle Puppy of mine,
everything about you is especially fine.
I love what you are,
I love what you do,
fuzzy little Snuggle Puppy, I love you.
We’ve been singing this one since he was listening to my voice from inside my body. He knows it well.
So, I began to sing softly in his ear. Whisper-singing. It’s a great trick. You should try it. But don’t try it in an orthodontist office with Tyler. He took this opportunity to explore poetic license.
Me: “Well, I have a thing to tell you and it won’t take –”
Me: “The way I feel about you is a kind of a –”
Me: “It’s start with a –”
Me: “And ends with a –”
Me: “And all along the middle it goes on like this: it goes–”
Ty: “Poop, Snuggle Puppy of mine.”
Me: “Everything about you is especially –”
Me: “I love what you are, I love what you do, fuzzy little Snuggle Puppy, I love —
Except nobody could hear what I was singing, so it just sounded like he was randomly chanting these words loudly (did I mention he was nearly shouting?).
Enough with the singing, then.
By the way, the ortho tech was sitting right beside me this whole time, making gentle, kind, gracious conversation. Tyler invited her to the pool. She said she would love to, if only she had brought her swimsuit.
Oh, hey! It’s my turn with the orthodontist! Sweet!
The doctor reclined my chair; Tyler reclined with me, his elbows on my chest and his chin in his hands. If you’ve ever had a doctor’s hands in your mouth while your son lay on your chest, well, then we have somethign in common.
The doctor took a peek inside my mouth to mark the progress and affirm my faithfulness in wearing retainers, and Tyler watched it all as if my teeth were Saturday morning cartoons.
One tooth needed some buffing, and I personally love that my teeth can receive similar treatment as my jewelry. Let’s just polish this one up a bit.
Dr. Holt smiled at Tyler and said, “You can stay there, buddy, just no sudden moves, okay?” Yes, please. No sudden movements.
He lay perfectly still, watching and watching. I stroked his hair. That seemed wiser than restraining his shoulders.
Suddenly Tucker appeared at my side. He who had been so quiet over there by the window was suddenly alerted to the fact that his mom was laying in an exam chair with electric tools in her mouth.
He watched. “Mommy, does that hurt you? Are they hurting you?”
(I had hands in my mouth and a child on my chest. I couldn’t really respond. Enter: the brilliance of my doctor.)
He turned off the machine and looked at Tucker. “Nope. We’re not hurting her at all, buddy. I promise.” He didn’t start again until he was sure Tuck felt safe with the plan.
Tuck is my worrier, my personal bodyguard, a self-appointed guardian. He keeps a close eye on me at all times. I felt his hand in mine. His gentle disposition. His quiet presence.
He is so his dad.
Tuck looked at the hygienist. “Are you sucking her gums out?”
“No, buddy. We’re not sucking her gums out. I promise.”
He put one hand in mine and the other on my arm. With my free hand, I kept tabs on Tyler’s dandelion head. Everyone was still.
“Be brave, Mommy,” Tuck whispered. Sweet, sweet boy.
In a few short moments, I got two thumbs up on the buffing, the flossing, the retainers, and the overall care according to the plan.
My boys got two thumbs up from everyone in the room. We headed to the pool, even without the kind ortho tech.
Take the boys with me to the orthodontist: [x].
Cross that off the Bucket List. Next time? I’m not taking them with me.