Carter had a checkup at the dentist this morning. I wasn't sure how it would go because the last few times have been fairly traumatic. His first few visits to the dentist (starting around 18 months) were fine, and then shortly after he turned 2, he began to completely refuse to cooperate. They didn't even try to clean his teeth for a good year because he would scream and bury his face in my chest as if they were going to torture him. I'd have to hold him while a hygienist pried his mouth open just so the dentist could briefly check out his teeth, all while he screamed. It was pretty horrible.
Before last spring's checkup we talked about what would happen, that they would brush his teeth and look at them and it would be fun and easy, and he was very excited about going. But the moment he got in the examination room, it all changed and he was extremely upset. The hygienist and the dentist were all very nice about it and ensured me that this was completely normal, that he'd come around.
So I had no idea what to expect this time. Once again we talked about the upcoming dentist visit while brushing his teeth over the last few days, and I reminded him of what would happen. They'd clean his teeth and check them, and then he could play with the toys in the waiting room. He was looking forward to it. I was keeping my fingers crossed that all would go well.
So we got up early this morning, got dressed, and headed out. He was excited, and when we got to the building he remembered which floor it was on and dashed right over to the train table to play. When they called his name he hopped up and followed the assistant to the back, right back to the same room that he'd viewed as a torture chamber before.
Now the thing about Carter is that he talks. A lot. He is a chatty little guy, and shy is not a word I use to describe him on a regular basis. But today at the dentist's office, he became shy. Not hiding-behind-my-leg-shy, but only-nodding-yes-and-no-shy, which is definitely unusual for him. However, he hopped right into the dentist chair, laid back to watch the DIego video they put on the ceiling-mounted TV for him, and then completely and calmly cooperated the entire time.
I was SO relieved! For the first time ever he got a real dental cleaning, followed by a fluoride treatment and a real exam by the dentist, all without so much as a frown. I don't know what changed or when, but all of the sudden the dentist was no big deal. It occurred to me later that I should have taken a picture of him in the dentist chair being all cooperative, but I was so stunned that I just sat there the whole time!
Michelle met us at the dentist office to take Carter off to a playgroup while I headed to work. I think he had a fun afternoon of playing. When I got home we played outside for a while. He'll say, "Mommy, let's go on an adventure together!" and then we'll pretend we're going to an ice cream shop or to a farm or a number of other things. I'm loving all of this pretend play! It's so much fun to be able to just be silly and pretend with him.
I have a really strong memory of being 11 years old and spending a Sunday afternoon riding bikes with my sister and some friends in the wooded lot adjacent to our house. We were all pretending we were in cars, I think, and that the paths we were zooming around on were roads. It was so much fun, and I was very happy, and there was a moment at the end of that day when I looked around and thought, "This is it. This is the last time I'll be able to just play like this." And though it wasn't, it was definitely the start of that stage of self-consciousness about pretend play, when you start to realize you're no longer losing yourself in it the way you once did. When I was in college and working in after school programs I loved being able to play like that again, but it hasn't been a constant thing in my life again until recently. I'm enjoying the heck out of it!
Speaking of playing, after dinner Carter and I took a bath in the big tub. We zoomed boats around in the water and told stories and did "This Little Piggy" on each other's feet. I will be sad when he outgrows bathtime like this. It's such a special playtime. :-)