Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Dental Saga Continues

Today was Benji's turn. He's been twice to the dentist. Once he wouldn't even touch the chair. The next time it took 2 hours, but he finally opened his mouth and let her peek. She scheduled him for Children's hospital (which is what I had been asking for all along, but me saying, "Visible decay" isn't enough--they had to see it, too).

Benji is a unique soul: brilliant, feisty, fiercely independent (but also fiercely loyal), fearless, strong-willed, sensitive, driven solely by his own ideas. He is every crying child's hero. He is the only child I've ever known who is completely, 100% unbribable. It just doesn't work. He is busy, thoughful, self-motivated, active. PLAY, fun, and teasing are the things Benji values the most.

He's also a runner. Honestly, I've feared for his life since the day he learned to walk.

Benji won't do something unless he, in his own estimation, finds it somehow desirable or valuable or important. If HE doesn't think it's a good idea, you'll NEVER get him to do it--no amount of pleading, begging, explaining, bribing, punishing, threatening, yelling, praising, helping, forcing, or tricking will work. This normally doesn't bother me--I'm good with indepedent kids who can reason--but Benji won't listen and reason. For a while we wondered if he's deaf (he's not) because unless he has determined you are saying something of value, he won't even acknowledge you are speaking. He makes his mind up quickly and entirely by himself, and very rarely changes it after that.

And yes, I AM talking about the 3 year old in our house. I can't count the number of moms who have said, "He's lucky to have you as parents. I would have killed him long ago."

Mostly, Tim and I have spent the last 3 years trying to keep him alive (no, you can't run across the parking lot or jump off the roof!) while he grows into himself.

So how do you get a kid like that to go to the dentist? You can't. Especially when, to complicate things further, he has a mortal dread of anything medical-related. And he never seems to forget. (Unfortunately, he's also the kid who is most likely to end up in the ER in our house!). It's so severe, the first dentist we met (who is an excellent pediatric dentist, by the way, and who has worked successfully with all my other dentist-haters really well) suggested he has a phobia of medical stuff and needs counselling. At age 3.

So today was his turn to get his teeth fixed at the Children's Hospital under general anaesthesia. I'm glad Tim took him--he has to be held down to even drink the pre-anaethesia medication that's supposed to make kids relax. He had to be held down to put the mask on--by more than one person. Not only was it too early in the morning for me to handle it, I'm not strong enough to manhandle Benji anymore. So Tim had to do it. He hates it, too, but we had to get his teeth fixed.

Turns out he needed it even more than we realized. EVERY SINGLE TOOTH had a cavity. All 22 needed to be fixed. So he had 5 pulled and the rest (to my knowledge--he's still sleeping, so I haven't seen him yet) crowned. That's sad, but it also means that it's unlikely we'll have to do this again until he is old enough to at least use nitrous oxide (he won't let it near him now). It means all that can be done for his baby teeth has been done, and there won't be any need for additional forcing him to see the dentist until he is getting his adult teeth--and hopefully he, at age 7, will cooperate more (Caleb does better now, and he was kicked out of a dental office when he was 6 for being uncooperative).

Also, Tim said all the people who came in said, "He has a sensory processing disorder?" Not that we know. It must have worked its way into the charts somehow.

It is possible, of course. People have suggested autism spectrum to us before. But I think the problem is not a disorder of any kind. I think it's a personality combined with an unusual brilliance of mind that doesn't lend itself well to being a toddler. You put brilliance with fierce independence, feistiness, fearlessness, and a love of play and you get a nightmare toddler. Honestly, what do you expect out of a kid who matches all the descriptions of brilliant 13 year olds but who is 2 or 3, with the impulse control and judgment for his age? Especially when he doesn't have to vocabulary to reason with you.

For now, the Dental Saga here is not quite over. Caleb goes back Friday, Anda next Tuesday, Daniel a little after that. But at least we don't have any more whole-mouth overhauls in the near future. Why? Because the only kid left who might need one is Elijah and, at 2 months, he doesn't have any teeth yet.

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