My Little Anti-Dentite

Drew is already asking for birthday presents, and his most recent request is “a yittle cooler yike Wall E’s.” If you’ve seen the Disney movie “Wall E” you might remember how at the beginning, a solitary robot meanders through mile-high stacks of carefully molded garbage bricks, scraping trash into the middle of his “body” or what might be called a torso, and compressing it like a trash compactor, then spitting it out and stacking it up. In between all the garbage detail, Wall E finds and collects little treasures along the way — spoons, a boot, a jewelry box, a bra — things that interest him. He packs everything away in a “yittle cooler” and returns to his storage unit to organize his collections.

This week, I have found Drew lugging around our large Igloo cooler from room to room, carefully transporting his bowling pins like they were precious donated livers. It seems perfectly legitimate for him to request a cooler that is more his size, more conducive to whatever it is he believes he is doing — although I doubt his bowling pins can fit inside anything smaller.

Drew loves to lose himself inside other places and faces, but I wish he would let himself trust real people the way he trusts his much-more-bizarre fantasy worlds. Like Dr. Doss, for instance.

Dr. Doss is a fabulous Fort Worth pediatric dentist who came with the highest recommendations from multiple mommies, and I have been nothing but impressed with the operation of his office, the competency and kindness of his nurses, and the wizardry with which he bewitches wee ones and mommies alike. His receptionist even gave me a rose after our first office visit. A rose. Excuse me, is this the final ceremony of “The Bachelor”? No, no it is not. This is the future of dentistry.

Last week was Drew’s third visit ever. Madeline was also up to bat, dentally speaking, and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if she didn’t lie there in my lap and allow herself to be inspected, brushed, and fluoride-ed, all with the nonchalance of a feline. Miraculous is what it was. Black magic, potentially, but I didn’t care.

When Drew’s turn came, my glimmer of hope began losing luster; he was backing towards the door. Then he was walking urgently down the hallway and disappearing inside Dr. Doss’ personal office. I left Madeline and the nurses in the exam room, slinked down the hall and inside the office door cat-burglar like, moved a ficus plant out of the way, and pulled Drew out from between the legs of an armchair like I was helping to birth him from it.

What followed next doesn’t really need to be described. But if you can imagine screams from the underworld, convulsions a la “The Exorcist”, and violent thrashing that would later produce joint pain in my wrists and fingers, then you need nothing more. Except you might also imagine me lying in the dentist chair with both my arms and legs wrapped around Drew like a human octopus. Or just a large, genetically straightforward, octopus.

By the time the ordeal had ended, I was crying too. Not ugly-crying, but that restrained be-brave kind of crying that mothers do in the presence of their children. The nurse was now in my face, the mommy’s face, saying, “It’s OK, everything will be fine!” I nodded emphatically, trying to reassure her, apologizing for some vague combination of Drew’s hysterics and my resulting hysterics.

But trying to pull it together is even harder when someone is sympathetic. She continued, “By the time he is 14, he will jump right up in this chair and you can stay in the waiting room and read a magazine!” The sound I made after this was something like a seal bark, but I did manage to nod my head and use my ring finger to collect the tears before they disturbed my mascara.

In the week since, Drew has occasionally mentioned how he “doesn’t want to go see Dr. Doss,” as though maybe I had another appointment on the calendar that day. I reassure him that it will be a long time before we have to go back, but that we do have to go back. I reassure him, but I’m really reassuring myself. Among the new categories of things to look forward to when you become a parent (rediscovering dipped cones at Dairy Queen, for instance), you also develop new black lists, new categories of experience to dread. My challenge will be to take all of this angsty dread, crush it between the love I feel for Drew, and spit it out for good. I have better, more interesting moments to collect.

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