Peanut’s easy at the dentist. She switches into her rare no-talking mode, but is a very good listener, super cooperative, totally unemotional about the whole thing. She lies down with her mouth wide open and keeps it that way, never flinching or fussing until the lady with the mask says she’s done, and then she’s off and running, for the sticker roll, the toy box of reward treasures, the balloon pick-up station. She keeps her eyes on the prize the entire time, suddenly finding her voice as the dentist tells her what a good girl she was, requesting a blue balloon for herself, a pink one for her sister, and glittery bracelets, if they have any, from the toy box.
For String Bean, it’s entirely a different story. She’s nervous in the car ride over, complains of a stomach ache as we wait for her name to be called. By the time the hygienist parks her in the reclining chair she’s near tears and terrified of everything: the spinning tooth polisher, the water-sprayer, the suction thing. She cooperates, holding her mouth open and all, but her hands are clenched in fists and her little jaw trembles the whole time, and she flinches every time there’s a noise or someone makes a sudden movement. And it’s not that she’s had a bad experience at the dentist before. She’s never had a cavity and only had X-Rays once. When it’s all over, she’s perfectly happy to collect her stickers, her toy, her balloon, and asks again and again if it’s really, really over and we get to go home now. On the ride home she’s a different kid, relieved of anxiety, chipper and chatty and full of tough talk about how well she did and how it wasn’t scary at all. Which each time makes me think that next time she won’t be so scared. So far, no luck on that one, but maybe one of these days.