I am too old for this

Here’s the short version, because you have places to be and I’m exhausted.

I tell Peanut in advance about dentist visit. He’s been a handful of times, always has easy cleanings. It’s never easy convincing him, though. Have I mentioned, maybe a thousand times before about his strong opinions and his desire to be in control and his spiritedness? Yes. Spirited. Highly. And it takes my every trick to get him to open up. For the four minutes it takes to gently clean a small person’s teeth.

So I tell him. Week before, day before, day of. Explain we have a full day and I need him to move past the “I’m not going” to get his clothes, get in the car, go into the dental office, sit down, open up, and let the nice, gentle people brush, count, and paint his teeth. (No sealants with BPA. Don’t worry, people of the interwebs.)

Drive thirty minutes to appointment. Toddler gets foreshortened nap. But it’s worth it, right, to not have any downtime and to have an overtired seventeen-month old, because Peanut will have clean teeth. But he clams up. I relay his pre-appointment-specified requests to hygienist: no bib, real names for tools not lame kid-friendly names, mix mint and chocolate flavored toothpastes. Fine.

Nope. Won’t do it. I’m gentle for a while, I allay his fears. This is quick, this is easy, this is gentle. You’ve done this before. Then I remind him the dentist present in the car is only for people with professionally cleaned teeth. Ditto the playdate later. These are not new threats/bribes. Though this is my first bribe attempt, I knew enough to set up the bribe earlier and keep the promise consistent throughout.

40 minutes in we say he’s running out of time. 45 minutes in he says okay but refuses to sit down. I take him home, and I’m pissed. I make a return appointment before storming out.

At one point I tel P that we’re going to go back in three days and if he doesn’t submit I’ll have them hold him down. It takes about one minute to realize how terrible that is, so I change it to we’ll go back every single day after school with no playgrounds and no playdates until your teeth get cleaned.

At home, later, I say that we have another appointment for Thursday. Will you do it? If I drive all that way and pay I want to know you’ll do it. I would rather let your teeth get holes and fall out later than waste my time, money, and energy now. I want you healthy, I want you able to eat, I want you to feel proud of all that brushing. I want you to like the dentist, damnit.

“Please. Will you let them do a cleaning?”

“Yes. They can sweep the floor.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, he can just buy dentures with the money from his comedy career.