But he’s forty with good teeth

Today was M’s first official visit to the dentist. I strongly suggested that we go to the pediatric dentist his friend used, thinking it would be so much more fun and exciting.

“No,” he insisted. “I’d just like to use the dentist mommy and daddy use.”

I prodded more, pointing out the toys, television, and fancy decor. Still no dice.

So we go to the regular old dentist, starting with the regular young hygienist. She tries her darnedest to entertain M with the rubber glove bit and the dancing finger. Wrong kid. M continues to gently rebuff her with nearly soundless No, thank you‘s. She seems perplexed, but grudgingly goes on with a nearly perfect cleaning, after which the dentist pops in for review. Again, he tries to engage the boy with a whale of tale–literally. All the while, M sits with his mouth opened wide, as if wondering when this strange people will just get on with the work at hand.

As soon as we get the all clear, we’re presented with a smorgasbord of stickers.

“I’d just like one of those firemen,” M says politely.

I’m a bit flustered that they’re working so hard with so little success. “And then we can go do something special, just you and me,” I say to both him and the dentist, just so they might see that his mind is on another kind of reward.

“Yes,” he replies earnestly, “like go get some coffee.”

All of which leads me to believe he’s a forty-year-old soul trapped in a three-year-old’s body.

And then I think about it some more, and start wondering whether perhaps I’ve squashed his child’s spirit through the course of my parenting. And I’d really worry, except then I peek into his room at nap time and find him goofing around on his pillow with an entire daddy-shirt stuffed into his underwear.

“Why do you have a shirt in your underwear?” I ask, trying to keep my voice even and curious and, most importantly, without laughter.

At which point he pulls the shirt from his underwear, heaves a sigh highly indicative of fun spoiled, and says, “Just go, Mom.”

Ah, yes, three years old. I never thought I’d be so glad to see it.


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