The dentist told us not to feel guilty as it was likely genetics that caused Arlo (2) to have tooth decay. His two cavities need to be fixed immediately so they don’t become infected and blah blah danger blah panic blah palpitation blah f*ck. The first plan of attack was to give him laughing gas while I held him down. The appointment was this morning.
It’s some vestige of ancient society that fathers are somehow more capable of watching as their children are subjected to pain. Well, it’s 2011, and fathers are the new mothers. We went in at 8:45am so no other patients would be there to hear my boy’s screams. The dentist reassured me by saying, “Oh, he’s going to cry a lot. Probably the whole time in fact. And that’s actually good because it causes him to open his mouth. The key is to make sure he gets enough gas so he’s disoriented and gives up fighting.” I guess parenthood isn’t all about cooling off a waffle while someone pees on your foot — there’s difficult stuff too.
We had spent the previous 36 hours telling Arlo about the awesome mask he would get to wear that would make him feel all “woh woh woh.” That kind of pep talking might work with an older kid, but to a 2 year old it’s just inane chatter that he knows to agree with because it’s said in a certain rhythm and intonation.
When he and I entered the dentist’s office and he saw the chair, his brain went into “Ummmmmmm yeah, there is no way I’m staying here” mode. The dentist and I were prepared for that and didn’t let it stop us.
I laid down on the chair like I was the patient, and made Arlo lie on top of me face up. “You hold his body and I’ll take care of his head,” I wrapped my arms and legs around my son like Lennie from Of Mice and Men loving a rabbit too much. The dentist put the mask on him, which is really more of a slightly thinner Geordi Laforge visor that rests loosely under his nose.What we needed was a Hannibal Lecter mask.
For a moment he relaxed and it appeared we might be in the clear, but as soon as the dentist’s fingers approached Arlo’s mouth, he started flailing like a hooked marlin. The nitrous nose visor was up around his forehead; I was doing some move on him I saw during an MMA fight – it just wasn’t going to work. My accomplice agreed.
Next step is a pediatric dentist who I guess is going to try the same thing but with more stuffed animals and high-pitched talking. If that doesn’t work, we get to put him in a straight jacket and a head vice (called a papoose – which pretty much ruins the idea of a papoose forever, for everyone.) If that sounds like something they might have done during the civil war in order to perform brain surgery, just add a whiskey soaked rag to suck on, and you’re right.
I was wondering why no one has invented a safe way to sedate toddlers for an hour, but then realized if such a thing existed parents would be robbing pharmacies to get it.
We arrived home having failed. I put him in his highchair, filled his tray with popcorn, and put on Yo Gabba Gabba. He was totally fine, so I took the opportunity to do some grown-ass-man silent weeping in the corner.