Visiting My Old Chomping Grounds

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

And the circle of life continues. I took Madelyn to my childhood dentist for her first check-up and it was a total trip to be back at the office I visited twice a year until I was in my teens. It seemed much smaller and less clinical, and I’m sure nothing’s actually changed except my own size.

As soon as we walked in, the friendly receptionist greeted us and it was so nice to be reunited! She totally remembered me and gushed over meeting Madelyn. Madelyn, though, had no interest in salutations and bee-lined her way toward the play kitchen. Guess we know what she needs for her 2nd birthday. She whipped up a whole smorgasbord until it was time to go back for the real appointment.

Madelyn takes in the kid-friendly surroundings in the waiting room.

Madelyn takes in the kid-friendly surroundings in the waiting room.

Chef Madelyn competes on "Chopped," or, as known in the dentist's office, "Chomped."

Chef Madelyn competes on “Chopped,” or, as known in the dentist’s office, “Chomped.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the hygienist took us back to a consult room which is where we would stay. These peek-a-boo visits, as they call them, don’t require the hard core bells and whistles of the dentist chair and all the mechanics. In fact, Madelyn had little to do with the appointment until the end.

We sat in what was essentially a toy room while Madelyn kept herself busy with a giant Elmo that served as a speaking chair. The hygienist asked me questions about our teeth brushing routine and foods that she eats. Based on my answers, we passed with flying colors with accolades for using straw cups instead of sippy cups, avoiding juice and sticky foods and candies, and brushing at least once a day with a regular routine. This mama still has never had a cavity, so I intend to make sure Madelyn goes through life the same way!

Then the dentist made her grand entrance and even though the practice that she started has expanded to additional offices and a rotation of dentists, I was so glad that we would be seeing her and that she’d get to meet Madelyn’s teeth, too! Then it was time for the actual check-up so we sat Madelyn on my lap facing me and then leaned her back onto the dentist’s lap. This is when Madelyn, who’d been so happy and cooperative the whole time, wailed like Elmo’s life depended on it. At first I tried to console and shush her, but the dentist actually said it’s a good thing: her open, screaming mouth made it easier to see all of her teeth! I like dental logic.

So while Madelyn screamed, the dentist examined and cleaned her teeth. It was all over in minutes, and we sat Pissed-Off Madelyn back up and Cheerful Madelyn returned. It may have had something to do with the toy and Elmo sticker she immediately received from the hygienist, but she happily jumped off my lap and continued playing, with her sparkly, pearly whites shining through her smile.

Madelyn gets tortured, I mean, examined, by the dentist.

Madelyn gets tortured, I mean, examined, by the dentist.

The moment finally came that would put my mind at ease: the dentist has a grading scale of 1 through 5 for the quality of brushing, with 1 being the best. My whole life, I received ones every time except one instance when I got a two and nearly had a meltdown about it. If you get ten 1-scores, you get a ticket to Disneyland! If that’s not incentive to brush, brush, brush, I don’t know what is! So, naturally, as a child who was obsessed with earning ones, I was curious to know if Madelyn would start her collection at this early age and sure enough, her 1-streak began! “Proud mama” doesn’t say enough about how I felt! I know, I am totally neurotic, but there could be worse things I obsess over, right?

After our exam was over, we schmoozed in the hallway with the friendly receptionist and other hygienists who were having fun playing with Madelyn. They brought out the treasure box so Madelyn could pick out more toys and she chose, no surprise, a duck, her favorite animal to date.

The office staff treats Madelyn like a princess!

The office staff treats Madelyn like a princess!

The receptionist introduced me to everyone, saying that I am alumni of the office, and we all joked about how different it is to be there as a grown up! They told me that they’re starting to see a lot of their former patients come back to bring their kids.

It’s times like these that I’m glad I chose to stay in the area and raise Madelyn in my home town. Most kids don’t like going to the dentist, but I guess I was a weird kid and I always did. I hope to instill that same appreciation in Madelyn, and replicating these parts of my own childhood make me so happy.