Dental Update. (again)

dentist2UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM.

Remember this —>>> from just a few weeks ago?  This is the closest that my 3-year-old would get to the examination chair.

Today, sick to my stomach with anxiety, I took him to a new pediatric dentist. I had them all well warned and they cleverly began by bringing us into a room with a few regular chairs and a table. Not a dental chair in sight. I talked with a staff member at length about his previous experience with dentists, and was asked lots of questions about his diet and overall well being. I was quite surprised when they offered to not bring my little monster into the examination room. They were going to bring the dentist to us in this regular paperwork room.

I began my conversation with the dentist. He said he would indeed have to check his teeth before making any recommendation and that the best approach was knee-to-knee. Meaning, I put my son on my lap facing me, the dentist’s knees are touching mine and we lay my son back onto the dentist’s lap so that he can look. I warned this new fabulous dentist that this is the exact approach that freaked the hell out of my son just 6 months ago. But we had to try because nothing was going to happen unless the dentist got to look. He resisted a little and I told him that the dentist just wanted to count his teeth, and I began counting 1-20 over and over again. The little monster has a thing for numbers. This appeared to silence my son while the dentist was indeed able to examine him. I was fairly stunned and grateful at the lack of histrionics.

The dentist recommended fillings for his two front teeth, and that they would perform all the other routine stuff while he was under sedation (x-rays, fluoride treatment, cleaning). He said there were a couple spots that he wanted to take a close look at, but those would wait until my boy was asleep and he could look at X-Rays. The sticker shock for the dental work wasn’t as bad as I was envisioning, but the shock of the anesthesiologist almost had me falling off the chair. Goddammit. I want to earn $700 an hour! It’s possible that this procedure will go ahead on Monday, just 5 days away. I’ll be happy to have everything cleared up with him. Those teeth have been worrying me. My credit card is going to scream in pain. But whaddya gonna do?

Two adults have to accompany him for the sedation appointment so I am grateful that my awesome Dad is here visiting. Now all I am waiting for is the dental office to call back and give me the exact time of the procedure. Oy oy oy!!! I need a drink.

Update: He is scheduled for 6.40am on Monday. While it will be hell to get up before 6 to get him to the dentist on time, he won’t be allowed to eat or drink before the procedure so the earlier the better. To fit him into their schedule, the dentist, anesthesiologist, and the dental technicians are all coming in early because they didn’t want to shift around their other patients and have them wait longer than they expected to wait. That’s pretty awesome of the dental practice, I’d say.

The Dental Saga

dentist Today saw our 6-month dental check up. My oldest, the 5-year old hurricane, thinks the dentist is awesome and loves looking at her x-rays. She has perfect teeth, thanks to her Daddy’s genes, and the dentists always love her. She’s a breeze.

Last year, just before my escaped mental patient turned 3-years old, I took him for his first visit to a pediatric dentist which was less than stellar. In fact, he refused to lie down for the dentist to examine his teeth, so the dentist held him down on the table. The entire scene turned into something resembling The Exorcist. Needless to say, both he and I were traumatized, and I vowed we would never go back to that pediatric dentist again.

Flash forward to today, six and a half months later. New dental office, new dentist (he’s also my dentist now as he does general family dentistry too). I really like him and his staff. They treated me superbly so I was OK referring my children to his office. My oldest breezes in there, claiming it’s the best place ever. The dental hygienist is ready to run away with my daughter because she’s been the easiest minor that she’s ever treated. Not a cavity in sight and she’s pearly white. All done.

dentist2I tried to warn them about my son. I asked for a soundproofed room, but they thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. The hygienist couldn’t even get close enough to him to count his teeth. So I ended up holding a Q-Tip, and using that to count his teeth while she watched. The closest we could get him to the actual dental chair was to put Elmo on there and he watched. Honestly, this wouldn’t be a big deal except he has the start of a cavity between his two front teeth. His first teeth arrived when 10 months old. During his second year, the majority of the rest of the teeth came in and made it so that his front teeth crossed over a little, catching food in between them. No, I didn’t think to brush his teeth. Seriously, I wasn’t about to scar an 18-month old by holding him in a headlock while shoving a foaming stick in and out of his mouth. But by the time he was two-and-a-half, I could see something was forming and that’s when I brought him to the dentist over six months ago. And the damage was done, psychologically and physically.

Today’s dentist, as good as he is, couldn’t get my boy to sit in the chair so I pretended to count his teeth with that Q-Tip while the dentist had a peek, while we all stood next to the dental chair. All he could say was that it probably needed a filling, not caps, and should be done under sedation given my son’s reaction to dentistry in general. He would need to refer me to a pediatric dentist for that and I immediately nixed the ones we had visited previously.

So now we get to go to a new pediatric dentist who isn’t in our network (oh joy) and prepare for a cavity to be completed under sedation. I am scared to think how much that’ll cost, nevermind how much it’s going to freak my little guy out. But I have to get it taken care of before the cavity gets worse.  So in two weeks, I get to scare the ever-living crap out of my little guy again, and that’ll just be the introduction and evaluation phase. The sedation will come at a later appointment. Oh the fun, fun, fun.

Updating!

Remember the kid who hit my girl on her first day of her new school? Apparently, he’s no longer in the school. My hurricane (I may downgrade her to a tropical storm soon) informed me of his departure when I was walking her into school this morning.

This change of school has done wonders for her. She’s a new, happier child when she comes home. She bounces into the car with glee when I pick her up. Before, she would wearily and slowly get in the car. It’s amazing what a difference the school can make. I’m really liking this new place. On October 30th, they are hosting a Mad Scientist Night where the kids get to make fake wounds (molds), mix up some green goo, carve pumpkins, etc. This Friday is Dress Down Day so if you haven’t had multiple issues in class, you are granted the privilege of not wearing your uniform. She’s going to be a unicorn (unicorn leggings and unicorn t-shirt) and she couldn’t be more exited.

My challenge over the next few months is to work on my 3-year old’s VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) enrollment for next year, when he will be 4-years old. I’m hoping desperately that I can get him into the same place I got my girl into last year. She loved that place, the staff felt like family, and I want him to experience the same thing. Even though enrollment won’t begin until February, I’ve already sent the director an email to say hi. If I can get him squared away there, I’m sitting pretty. He’s grandfathered into the new elementary that my girl is at now, thanks to the sibling-clause so I won’t have to go through this kindergarten nightmare again. And that would be amazing because I never want to go through this again.

When Children Aren’t Children Anymore.

Naturally, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I began questioning the normal societal rituals that our children go through. School has become one such ritual that I am increasingly scared by. The United States, ever competitive, must-always-be-best, has created an environment that in order to get ahead, you have to do more. It sounds logical, right? For instance, in my girl’s old school, the county school board mandated an extra hour of school every day (for all elementary grades, even kindergarten) to try to rectify the bad test scores of the previous year. Thankfully, I’ve been able to move her to another school that not only doesn’t have this extra hour of school work, but it has much more play time (recess every single day and PE three times a week). The difference in my child has been staggering. She is so much happier when she comes home from school, less stressed, less anxious about the next day. Think about that – I’m referring to a five-year old being less stressed about school.

I don’t discard the vital importance of an education. It’s how we educate that worries the crap out of me. More, more, more! More homework, more hours, more studying. This all comes at a cost and the cost is our children don’t get to be children anymore. Their own interests are tossed aside, natural never-ending energy isn’t being expended, and nonstop testing rules the classroom.

The first quarter of the 20th century saw huge leaps forward in education and productivity, but as the decades have marched on, our educators have forgotten these lessons. Superwoman was already here to breathe new life into education, beginning in 1907. Thankfully, Montessori is growing rapidly throughout the United States. Click here for a more information on it. It focuses on the growth and individual interest of a child, addressing individual needs, autonomy and responsibility. None of these things exist in the current public school system.

And what about play time? Take a look at Finland’s school system, which is #3 in the world, by the way. They didn’t pile on the work, the lessened it. After every single class, children get to go outside and play for 15 minutes. After every.single.class.

Not only do Finnish educational authorities provide students with far more recess than their U.S. counterparts75 minutes a day in Finnish elementary schools versus an average of 27 minutes in the U.S.but they also mandate lots of arts and crafts, more learning by doing, rigorous standards for teacher certification, higher teacher pay, and attractive working conditions.

The more, more, more, attitude of school, hunker down those kids, burying them in books is suffocating our children. Clearly, our current educators do not see a parallel between our childrens’ education and the exploitation of the middle class in the early 20th century either. Previously, average factory workers were expected to work six and seven days a week to maximize output in factories. On May 1st, 1926, Henry Ford mandated that his workers could only work 40-hours per week, five days a week, as well as almost doubling the hourly wage to $5 per hour. Yes, you can thank Henry Ford for pioneering the five-day work week, because it became, and still is, the industry standard.

The news shocked many in the industry but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity along the assembly line and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford’s workers.

So why can’t our educators at the top see that less is more? Less nose-to-the-grind and more play for children. Happier children have an open mind to learn. Strung out, overworked children do not. Homeschooling is on the rise, private schools and public charters are exponentially gaining popularity. People will do anything to avoid going into public school. And for all of us that say “well, I went through public school and it was fine,” the public school you and I knew is not what it is today. It is very, very, very different.

Pay teachers what they deserve. Every teacher I know works a minimum 10-12 hours every single day, throws in extra time on the weekend and even then, might not be able to catch up on paperwork. Considerably raise the salary of our teachers and not only will productivity rise, the desire to become a teacher will increase too. Flood the school market with teachers clamouring to teach and you’ll raise the overall quality of the teacher in the classroom. Raise that quality of teacher, and you’ll start to generate a better education system. When both the teacher and student are respected, are able to be whom they were meant to be, whom they want to be, the entire school system will win.