I was going through my old Facebook photo albums the other day. It’s wild to see how our family has grown and changed since the first day I signed up for social media all those years ago.
During my stroll down memory lane I came across a series of photographs. Of my daughter. From over a year ago. Refusing to swallow a bite of food.
As I was looking at my two-year-old little SweetZ obstinately holding food in her mouth for more than an hour, I was asking myself, “Where does she get it from?” – that stubborn refusal to do the thing that she really doesn’t want to do.
Then a childhood memory of my own came flooding into my thoughts – a very specific trip to the dentist. I’d heard my parents whispering in the front seat of the car during the trip there about what we were going to have done. They didn’t know I was listening, but I was. Even though I was too young to fully understand everything they were saying, I was, however, plenty old enough to understand these words:
I made up my mind very quickly – lonnnnnng before we reached the dentist’s office. No way in hell was I going to open my mouth. That dentist could call frogs from the waters and fire from the heavens, and nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – was going to make me open my mouth. Not if doing so meant that there would be needles, shots, and stitches.
I remember sitting in the dentist’s chair (which to my little, distrustful eyes, seemed like some kind of mutant-mechanical praying mantis waiting to eat me, slowly and painfully), looking up at the posters they had tacked up on the ceiling. A kitten sitting in a wagon. A pretty rainbow scene. That classic shot of the two little boys wearing overalls that reads, “So, how long have you been farming?” I distrusted those posters. They reminded me of clowns. And I was LIGHTYEARS ahead of Stephen King when it came to the ugly truth behind clowns. I had my own preconceived notions regarding those devilish bastards before IT was published…and he was 39 when that went to print. I was a mere sprite when I realized the true evil behind clowns. But that’s a story for another post, another day.
I was staring up at those posters, all alone in the examination room, contemplating my chances of success if I were to bolt, when the dentist came in.
He said hello.
I stared at him.
His nurse said hello.
I ignored her and stared at him.
He sat on his chair and pulled on his mask. His eyes crinkled behind his glasses. Maybe he was trying to smile at me. I thought he was glaring.
He asked me to open my mouth.
I stared at him.
He repeated himself.
I stared at him and gave my head a tiny shake. No.
He looked at the nurse and gave her a slight nod. She moved a step closer to the chair.
My tiny head shake grew into something a little bigger.
I don’t remember much past this point. It’s all kind of a blur. There was a commotion, some loud yelling, and hands holding my shoulders down while someone else tried to pry my mouth open.
I still have bad dreams. I still loathe dentists.
I don’t know if they were able to do what we’d come for them to do – I honestly don’t remember. All I remember was clinging to the notion that if I were to survive that visit, I MUST NOT OPEN MY MOUTH.
So, as I was looking through our family photographs of my daughter displaying her stubbornness, I realized,
She gets it from me.
And I smiled. Because even though she’ll have to learn to develop the kind of self-control that doesn’t allow her to just give into her stubbornness willy-nilly, seeing myself reflected in her is a pretty darn cool thing.
Now, check out SweetZ in her 1 hr, 10 minute refusal to swallow her food.