Am I a Mean Mom?

Am I a Mean Mom?

That fateful day, when my nine-year-old daughter’s dentist told us that she needed two teeth pulled.  Baby teeth, but they were locked in, so out they must go.  “Just make an appointment, and we’ll give her a little laughing gas.”  Laughing gas?  Anesthesia?  For two baby teeth? Hmm, I thought.  What ever happened to Novocain (numbing injections)?  You know, ‘pinch and a burn, honey’?  Apparently our children are no longer pinched or burned.  I tried to explain to the dentist that my karate green-belt, thick-skinned, no-crying-at- shots kid would be just fine with the pinch and a burn that we all incurred during dental visits as kids. We bantered back and forth, and I finally convinced her, promising her that my kid would be cool.

In the weeks leading to it, I had a few chats with my daughter about it.  I explained that she’d have a few shots near her teeth, but after that she’d just feel a little weird pressure. I’d be there the whole time, and she’d be back at day camp in time for archery. She was easy to convince.  Here’s why:  First of all, I know her.  Better than anyone else, except her, of course.  I knew she’d sail through.  Second, she knows what shots are for, and medicine, for that matter. Not because I’m a doctor, but because she knows that they’re necessary.  She also knows that they hurt, but just for a second.  No sugarcoating, because sometimes I don’t have a sugar cube with me at a doctor’s visit.   Just matter-of-fact.  No drama.

Am I mean and terrible?  Cruel to my kids?  Some may say so, but I really don’t think so.  There is so much controversy about vaccines, but the hype focuses on the risks and potential side effects.  The reality is that parents don’t like to feel guilty about allowing their kids to be hurt.  Point taken.  I hate when my kids are hurt.  I hate it when they fall, are ill, or, the biggest dagger of all, when their emotions are toyed with.  That pain is worse than any shot.   But shot crying never really gets to me.  For my generation and theirs, until ‘needle-less’ injections are the norm, those pinpricks are a necessary evil, in order to protect them, or even to ease their pain.

I think because I’ve always taken a pretty casual attitude about ‘shots at the doctor’, that my kids do the same.  They know it’s pretty likely that they’ll get at least one at each check-up.  They know that I get them too (flu shots and pertussis boosters), and I even try to have them come with me and hold my hand when I get a shot. I always make sure to say ‘ouch!’ really loudly, so they can give me an extra hug and tell me I’m brave.   And I never use shots as a threat.  Saying ‘if you don’t behave, you’ll get a shot’, is, first of all wrong, and second of all, well, wrong.  Shots aren’t a punishment. I think parents need to remind themselves of that.

Tooth-pulled girl did great. The whole thing took fifteen minutes, enough time for her to watch half an episode of “Gravity Falls”.  The dentist and her nurse were in awe.  I was nonplussed.  I suggested they try it with some other kids, even if they’re only yellow belts.  My daughter made it to archery on time, and the tooth fairy did double duty that night.



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