When you have a slew of kids as I do (in terms of children, three is a lot; trust me), it can be tough to get good alone time with each of them.
There are lots of reasons why alone time is hard to find. Often the three of them are playing together and I am the least interesting one in the house. There are more kids than there are parents, making it hard to divide and conquer, letting each of us take a kid and do something special. And God forbid one of us do something fun with only one kid—then there is hell to pay from the others.
Every once in a while, though, something unexpected provides that elusive quality alone time.
This morning, Jack had a dentist appointment. Something that looked like a chore when I checked my calendar this morning turned into a lovely morning with a kid who is turning into a charming young man.
Before we headed off to the dentist, however, Jack and I had to go to our cat-sitting gig, where he lovingly petted the one cat (out of two) that likes us. As the cat rubbed up against him, Jack talked to him, telling him all about our cats and what they had in common with him: “Starfire has a white spot, like you have on your chin. Oreo has patches of black, like you do. Ruby is cunning just like you are.”
It is amazing to hear him talk and see him love and watch his gentleness and care.
Even though I am not a cat, Jack and I chatted for the whole trip to the dentist and back. We spent part of the time with him telling me about Terraria, his new favorite game, and I made a big effort to be interested, even though that game is the most incomprehensible thing ever.
We also talked about school and he spontaneously started telling me about his friends from his classroom: “R is kind and sweet,” “O is a laugh riot,” “Q is smart,” “A plays Terraria just like me,” and so on. We talked about what the rest of the day would be like and what was going to happen at the dentist. We even spent a few minutes on the weather after the radio told us we were under a TORNADO WATCH. In MARYLAND.
(Said tornado watch made me glad I hadn’t let my cat-sat cats out into the outdoors today.)
The dentist was chill too. It was unfortunate that they were so prompt taking us to the back room because Jack only had two or three minutes to play the video games in the waiting room. It was okay though because we had the nicest hygienist and Jack got to watch a movie of his choice (Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties) as he had his teeth checked.
The bummer of the morning: My every-six-months lesson in how I’m not helping Jack floss his teeth or use mouthwash enough. Also, Jack has a baby tooth that is blocking a permanent tooth and there are reasons as to why it needs to be gone.
“Try wiggling that tooth to get it out,” the dentist told Jack before saying to me, “He’s not going to be able to get it out; we’re going to have to extract it.” The extraction is scheduled after his next hockey tournament though so maybe we’ll get lucky and it will get knocked out on the ice. <—(bad) joke
The reason I love this dentist office though is because when I reminded the dentist that the reason we drive all the way out there is because Jack was so completely freaked out about dentists when we first started there that he wouldn’t even let them brush his teeth. After an initial second opinion, our next visit was to sedate Jack to put crowns on four of his teeth. I don’t want to send Jack back into that bad space where he is scared of the dentist.
“We’ll work up to it then,” she told me. “We’ll start with the sealant we have to put on another tooth and then we’ll see if he’ll let us numb his gum and we’ll go slow and if he can’t handle it, we’ll stop.”
That “we’ll stop” is a big deal. Although I hope they don’t have to stop because anesthesia for dental work is very expensive and if we have to do it again, I might just tell them to take out all his teeth and put in a full new titanium set.
Jack headed back out to the waiting room video game and I made his next appointment before we headed out in the now sheeting-down rain to get him lunch from McDonald’s drive-thru so he could eat on the way back to school. (Their Happy Meals have LEGO Movie plastic cups in them right now, which is the best “toy” I think anyone has ever gotten in a Happy Meal.)
We kept talking in the car, with Jack chattering the whole way. Jack used to be so quiet in the car that once I wrote a whole blog post about the fact that he had a couple things to say on one particular car ride. Now he is just as loud and nonstop as everyone else in the car. It’s very cool. He has a lot to say.
I walked him into his school, where he saw his PE teacher in the office as I was signing him in.
“Mr. B! Mr. B!” he called to him. Then he waited until he had the teacher’s full attention and said, “Mr. B, everything is awesome.
“Yes, Jack. Sometimes everything IS awesome. Thank you for our morning together, little friend.