Yep, you read correctly...
My kid, whose favorite game in the whole wide world is to play doctor, actually wanted now to play dentist.
Let's see...I'm fortunate enough to have a kid that's cool with having her teeth brushed twice a day, who has finally (mostly) learned how to spit (and who takes great pleasure in trying to spit all over the bathroom mirror rather than in the sink...). But she's a kid who will absolutely not let me floss, let alone open her mouth for a dentist. Now, how to present the experience in a way that she'll remember, absorb, embrace? I'm still a realist, and I know that even though she can play a good game, can say yes to all the right questions, obey even the most hated requests when it's just play (like giving shots, putting on bandaids, etc.), I imagine that baby steps are still steps in the right direction, and being as desperate as I am right now to see some kind of success, I will do whatever it takes to get her thinking positive thoughts about visits to a dentist.
Excited to get started, she complied with my request to lie down on her bed, head back on her pillow. I explained that I was her dentist, and that I wasn't going to hurt her, that I just wanted to look at her teeth and clean them. She opened her mouth for me to count her teeth...10 on the top, 10 on the bottom (I just read today that she should end up with something like 32 when all the adult teeth have come in - holy cow! Where will they all go???). I tapped each one with the bottom of her toothbrush as I went. I commented on how beautiful her teeth are, said I wanted to make sure they were going to grow strong and healthy, both excellent buzzwords for my kid.
Then I took her toothbrush and brushed them carefully, explaining that the dentist will be using a different toothbrush, an electric one that tickles her teeth and gums, like the one she let me show her by trying it out on her hand at the dentist's office last week.
I figured since she was having such a good time up to this point, it may be a good opportunity to push the limits a bit.
"Hey, Sammi, let's floss!"
"Okay!" she said.
(Excuse me, did I hear you correctly? I think you just said, "okay" to flossing...)
And that's just what we did. Each. and. every. tooth.
I told her I'd like to do that every day, that it will help to make sure that there's nothing stuck between her teeth and keep them healthy, that I'll do it daily, too (good way to get me in compliance as well), and she nodded in agreement.
Friday she has an appointment with the orthodontist. As it's just a consultation, and I doubt he'll want to do anything more than just look in her mouth, feel her jaw, etc., I went through what I thought he'd do with her, reassuring her that he wouldn't do anything in her mouth (gotta make sure Steve explains this to the guy when he gets there so we don't freak her out!). A couple of encouraging things about this orthodontist - he takes Medicaid, was recommended to me by another mother of a child with Down syndrome, and, as I discovered through casual conversation at my own teeth cleaning this week, my own dentist highly recommends him, and said he's great with kids (note to self: remind Steve to drop my dentist's name at the appointment on Friday. just for added insurance of a happy visit). As for Sammi's dentist she's been going to for the last few years, I think it's time to kick him to the curb and look for someone else. Neither Steve nor I are terribly impressed with him, and I'm sure just that lack of clicking with us must also be felt by Samantha, having an awful lot to do with her negative experiences. My own hygienist used to work for another pediatric dentist in the area who takes Medicaid, and she said she's amazing. Gotta check her out for the next appointment in June.
On a completely different note, I got the proof for Sammi's re-taken class photo for the yearbook back this morning.
Let's just say I've already put in a request to submit my own photo of her instead.
Just as with the dentist, she can talk a good game, tell us she'll do it, show us her happy-face pose she's promised us she'll give the photographer, and then, when the moment arrives, her shoulders slouch, her head goes down, her forehead furrows, her arms cross, and her bottom lip goes out in the biggest pout you've ever seen. So why does she give the most beatific smile for the photographers at all the Santa sittings? Is it because Mommy is standing behind them with her own camera? So I've decided that next year I will go to the class-picture shoot myself and make sure the job's done right.