Can You Get PTSD from Taking Your Kid to the Dentist?

You stand there, feet rooted to the tiles of the lobby floor. Your eyes are watching events unfold in all their insane glory. Time slows down and the whole while, your brain is stunned and stuttering, “What. The. Fuck. No. Wow. OMG. Is this happening? OMG. It is happening. It is happening to ME! Fuck!”

Ladies and gentlemen, this was all before 9:45am this morning.

So six months ago, I thought it would be so efficient and awesome if I scheduled both Cookie Monster and Gamera’s dental appointments at the same time because hey! Who doesn’t love efficiency? Turns out, Cookie Monster doesn’t love efficiency!

Erroneously, I thought that since it would be Gamera’s first time at the dentist, she would benefit from watching Cookie Monster go first. Clearly, I have no memory because WHY WOULD I THINK THAT? There has been no evidence during our previous two visits for Cookie Monster that this would be: A) a good idea and B) ever going to happen. I blame it all on a completely unrealistic hopeful optimism that has resulted in three children.

Fast forward to this morning. We start off pretty good. That is, until Cookie Monster gets wind that we are going somewhere after breakfast. He comes upstairs asking me where we are going. Because I have a stupid policy of never lying to my children (sometimes, I really hate this policy), I tell him we are going to the dentist. He is not happy. I make a classic parenting mistake. I tell him if he doesn’t go, then his teeth will rot and the dentist will have to pull out his teeth. (WHY WHY WHY DID I FUCK MYSELF IN SUCH A ROOKIE AND STUPID STUPID MANNER? I DESERVE ALL THE BAD THINGS!!)

As you can imagine, that went over well. Instead, I should’ve just said, “I love you too much to argue.” (I’m trying out a new parenting method and the hardest part is for me just to STFU. Clearly.)

Cookie Monster starts to whine and cry and hides himself behind the rocking chair. I wrangle him downstairs while he kicks and screams, all the while saying, “I love you too much to argue.” Hapa Papa somehow forces Cookie Monster into the car seat. (This is a Herculean task. First, Cookie Monster is very strong for a four year old. Second, when he’s pissed, he’s even stronger. Third, have you ever tried to force a small child into a car seat? How can they simultaneously be so rigid you are afraid you will snap them in two while being so limp that you cannot get a decent hold on them to smoosh them into the car seat? I just. Fail.)

The whole car ride there, Cookie Monster begs, weeps, and screams, “Let me out!! I want to go home! Get me out!” We arrive at the parking lot and Gamera is very excited and comes out of the van like a normal child. Somehow, I remove Cookie Monster from his car seat and continue my tenuous hold on his writhing body and exit the car very carefully. The Asian dude in the car next to mine just stares as this drama unfolds. (Incidentally, I hate the random side hand holds by the door on my minivan. What is the point of them except to provide easy handholds for my hysterical child to grab and prevent me from walking away from the vehicle?)

I stumble the hundred feet from the lot, through the lobby, and into the office. Cookie Monster sees Tangled on the TV and calms down somewhat. Gamera is busy playing Legos in the corner with another little boy. Every few moments, Cookie Monster whimpers and cries and demands to go home. The receptionist asks me to fill out paperwork as she watches me try to get a handle on my son. I resist the urge to smack her in the face because OMG DOES SHE NOT HAVE EYES?

Somehow, we make it to the moment where the dental assistant asks us to go in. This does not go well. I carry Cookie Monster who is of course, screaming and kicking and weeping, and Gamera, who is two compared to her brother’s four, walks in calmly of her own recognizance. The next thirty minutes are a blur of Cookie Monster throwing a tantrum, begging to leave, screaming, “I want to go out! Take me home! Take me home!” He asks for water. He drinks water. He says his tummy hurts. He trembles and shakes. He storms into the reception area. He storms back. I have to juggle holding him and answering inane questions from the dental assistant.

I put Cookie Monster down because I have to hold Gamera as the dentist looks at her teeth. She cries a bit, but overall, lets the dentist (who is AWESOME) do what needs to be done. She is calm and mostly, Gamera just wants to watch Tangled and have a lollipop and take home a purple balloon. Her teeth are fine. She is a fucking baller.

Finally, the dentist looks at Cookie Monster’s teeth and I use all my strength to hold him down and she tries her best not to get bitten by my rabid four year old. His teeth are fine. All she does is look at his teeth and gives him a goody bag and a balloon. I don’t know why he is ballistic.

We leave and I apologize profusely to all the staff and traumatized parents in the waiting room. We are now in the lobby and I am trying to tie down his balloon when Cookie Monster stands stock still and starts to vomit yellow acid all over his pajamas. (Did I mention he was still in his PJs and pullup and also, BAREFOOT because Mom of the Year here couldn’t get him to change or put on shoes?)

It just doesn’t stop.

He just stands there, mouth open, an arc of bile continuously spewing out of his mouth. (An ACTUAL ARC. Like a FOUNTAIN.) It spatters yellow and bubbly all over the nice tile floor, creating a slick puddle all around Cookie Monster’s bare feet. He vomits straight down his nice, white, bulldog pajamas. And he just stands there.

Thank God he didn’t eat breakfast and just had water at the dentist.

Gamera doesn’t move and stares, stunned. 

I freeze. I don’t know what to do. I run to the bathroom and grab paper towels. I throw them on the rapidly widening pool of gastric acid. I do this repeatedly. Cookie Monster takes off his shirt and uses it to wipe his feet, the floor, and steps on it. I valiantly refrain from yelling at him and tell him to stop that. I put his shirt in my purse. He walks to the door and lays down on the ground.

I go back to the dentist office and ask them to call a custodian because my kid has just vomited all over the lobby. A few minutes later, two nice dental assistants in their pink scrubs and face masks come out to clean the floor.

They tell me to go home and assure me that this happens all the time. (Somehow, I highly doubt that but I desperately want it to be true.) One of them gamely says, “At least there are no chunks!” Bless her heart.

I immediately drive to McDonald’s and binge on orange juice and hash browns.

It occurs to me that I forgot to make our next appointments. I think I’ll wait a few weeks for them to forget us and become anonymous once more.

Pattern Interuption

Prior to dating Hapa Papa, all my relationships were full of drama. When things were good, they were AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and FATE and when they were bad, they were HORRIBLE and ALL IS LOST and ANGST ANGST ANGST. So exhausting.

Part of it was I was in my late teens and early twenties and my pre-frontal cortex wasn’t finished developing. (Yes, yes… that’s it! Blame it on the pre-frontal cortex!) Part of it was me learning how to navigate my own needs, wants, and desires as well as healing from the ways my parents (in particular, my father’s abandonment) broke me. Also, I was crazy. And emotionally unstable. So, there was that working for me.

Since I was always playing out the drama that unfolded only in my head, I was constantly pushing my boyfriends away, expecting them to chase after me and beg me to stay. That was how I confirmed I was valuable and loved. I was the damsel in distress needing the hero to run after and save me me from myself. Needless to say, it was tiring for everyone and eventually, the “passion” as I thought it was (vs the incredibly passive aggressive co-dependency that it truly was) burned out.

Well, when Hapa Papa and I started dating, I would pull that crap on him and he would have none of it. More to the point, he was completely oblivious. I was so confused. One night, I was so pissed at him, I slammed the door to our apartment and left. We lived in a sketchy neighborhood so I fully expected him to come running after me, begging me to come back and stay and to be safe. Nope. The man had the nerve to fall asleep almost immediately.

I stormed back in after about fifteen minutes and roughly shook Hapa Papa awake, demanding him to explain himself. He looked up at me, blinking sleepily and said, “I assumed you left because you didn’t want to be around me. So I let you be by yourself. I just figured if you wanted to be with me, you’d come back. Was I wrong? I’m not really sure. Is that the way relationships are supposed to work?”

I was floored. I think I stood there, mouth agape, opening and closing like a fish. My brain stuttered to a stop.

“Well?” Hapa Papa asked. “Was I supposed to chase after you? Is that what you want? Should I do that from now on? Because that seems really stupid to me. If you wanted me to be with you, why would you leave?”

*sigh* I hate it when he’s right. I thought about it for a bit, my brain frantically churning through all these scenarios about what I wanted and what would be the best response and I gave up. I told him that he should continue what he was doing. If I stormed out, he was absolutely not to chase me.

Turns out, that was one of the best decisions I ever made. With that pattern of victim/hero disrupted, we were able to proceed on healthier grounds. Of course, there were still times I still bolted because I was pissed off beyond all reason, but I did so knowing that Hapa Papa was not going to be chasing after me. I tested him a few times, but he never did. After awhile, it just got lonely and stupid so I stopped.

Now, of course, we still fight every now and then, but I can honestly say that I have never had a healthier relationship. It also helps that Hapa Papa is what my brother calls The Most Patient Man in the World. Thank the Good Lord for that!

Plus, Hapa Papa is so quick to apologize and admit when he is wrong that just by doing so, it immediately diffuses most volatile situations and stops me from going to DefCon 1. Even I am now able to look past my immense pride and sense of “Look Out for Number One” (a lesson I inscribed onto my heart once I watched my father walk all over my mother for the majority of my life) and have come to apologize as quickly as possible. He has been good for my soul.

All because that one night, Hapa Papa let me walk out that door. I am utterly grateful.

Massive Parenting Fail

A lot of parenting is a big crap shoot. You may have a situation (say, your kid being a real PITA when it comes to eating) and you want to find a solution. So, you look to your friends or the interwebz or books (remember those?). However, every now and then, you have a situation where it doesn’t really bother you, but you feel as if it should.

I will call this phenomenon, Creating More Problems for Yourself™, also known as, You Are a Fucking Idiot™, or You Stupid Masochist™.

As many of you know, Cookie Monster can be difficult when it comes to eating. He’s not the world’s pickiest eater, but he’s picky enough that it annoys me and bothers me and often, he goes to bed hungry because he just didn’t like what was for dinner. I’ve battled it out many a time with him, and it always leaves me wiped out, annoyed, and sad. Sad because I turn into a screaming monster and end up roughly shoving Cookie Monster into time out, or locking him in the garage (with the lights on), or locking him in his room for a few minutes. This leads to weeping hysterics from Cookie Monster (can’t imagine why) and escalating tantrums and simultaneous Limp Toddler (so I feel as if I’m going to wrench his arms out) and Will Not Move But Can Really Kick and Slam His Head Into Something Toddler.

However, we’ve been making some headway, and usually, I stop caring and tell him if he doesn’t eat by the time we go upstairs to take a bath, then he’s just going to be hungry until breakfast. For his meals in general, I don’t care if he takes a few bites, goes play, runs around, and then comes back for a few more bites, and then disappears again. It annoys me slightly because I know it’s a bad habit, and it makes it hard to go out to eat, but ultimately, I don’t care.

Well, one of my friends came over the other day and her four year old daughter kept saying that my kids weren’t sitting down to eat properly and running around during meal times. My friend wasn’t trying to make me feel bad or anything – she was just pointing out that they were very strict with their kids about meal times. No loud talking and no running off during meals. Totally reasonable. My friend was just trying to explain why her kid was making these observations. No judging.

Anyhow, I got it in my head that my kids should sit still and eat their food all in one sitting without taking breaks. I randomly decided to begin enforcing this yesterday morning – with no warning to my kids. Needless to say, it did not go over well. At 7:40am in the morning, I was already screaming at Cookie Monster, throwing him in the garage, bringing him upstairs to his room while he was screaming and weeping his brains out. All he kept crying was, “I want to play!!” I finally collapsed on the floor to the kids’ room and almost started sobbing. I left Cookie Monster there and went downstairs and ignored my children for awhile to calm down.

Then, I had an epiphany.

What the fuck was I doing? I don’t even care about whether or not Cookie Monster sits at the table quietly for the whole duration of his meal. If he doesn’t finish his food by the time we have to leave (or whatever other reason), then he’ll be hungry. I don’t want to scream and yell at my sweet boy. And certainly not first thing in the morning. Why was I trying so hard (and failing so miserably) to enforce something that I didn’t care about in a way that didn’t fit my personality at all? It was like putting on the wrong skin – that’s how I felt during the whole heated exchange. That I was not myself – and it was horrible.

So, I said, “Fuck it.” As a result, very little screaming for the rest of the day and yes, Cookie Monster went hungry for dinner because he didn’t want what I made and I was fine with that. So was he. He wasn’t going to die and I wouldn’t feel like a shit. Win/Win.

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it’s good to remind myself YET AGAIN. I do not want to be responsible for dimming the lights in my children’s eyes (especially Cookie Monster since he’s the oldest and I’m the hardest on him). I want them to know only love and kindness from their mommy, however imperfect I am. I want to be worthy of their love and adoration.

Cookie Monster can be an annoying PITA (ie: a preschooler) but then there are the times when he races out of the door after school, throwing his arms around me saying, “You’re here!” or when he ran to me last night and declared, “You’re my best friend!” (I don’t even think he knows what that means, but it means a lot to me.) There are the moments when we’re laying in bed and he cups my face in his hands and his big eyes glow full of love and enthusiasm and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. Or when we’re saying our prayers and he is just so grateful for everything when he recounts his day.

I have to hold on to the truth that I love my boy even when things are chaotic and I’m exhausted and cranky and feeling as if kicking a puppy would make me feel better. Sometimes, it’s just really hard to remember in the heat of the moment.

*sigh* When I tell Hapa Papa this and he’s also tired and cranky, sometimes, he’ll tell me that it’s my own fault because I wanted so many children and that it will only be harder with four kids. I have to restrain myself from punching him in the throat. But other times, Hapa Papa is sympathetic and understanding and gives a lot of grace.

That’s also what I have to remember: no matter how much I screw up and I yell, “Jesus!” in half expletive and half prayer, that I am given a soothing balm of grace that covers my many sins to my children. I have to trust and hope and choose to believe that God’s grace is sufficient – and that my children will grow up fine despite my many failings.

Weird. Somehow my post went from my massive parenting fail to a post ending on God’s grace. I suppose it is aptly fitting. Amen to that.

I Want to Punch You in Your Cloud

Warning: This post is quite full of ranting and some lunatic raving (both of which may or may not make any sense). There is no point other than the rant. It’s a silly and shallow post day. On the plus side, there is a video wherein very creative usages of swears and insults abide.

You have been warned! 😉

Does anyone even know what the “Cloud” is? I vaguely do, but ultimately, I don’t know what the Cloud is that all these tech people (and I am including Hapa Papa) talk about all the time. I think it has something to do with storing stuff online instead of on your computer or something or other? I have no clue. Maybe it has something to do with crowd-sourcing? (I realize Google and wikipedia can solve this ignorance for me, but I honestly don’t care.)

All I know is that every time Hapa Papa mentions the Cloud, or Big Data, or whatever industry specific buzz word crap that he uses at these web analytics conferences, I want to punch him in the throat. Of course, he often says these words just to piss me off. It amuses him how quickly I go Hulk Smash on him as soon as he mentions the word, “Cloud.”

I’m not even sure why I am so virulently opposed to this technology or whatever. It’s probably the name. What a stupid name. Cloud. Does it communicate in rainbows and have unicorns and leprechauns, too? It just makes me so ANGRY. SO RIDICULOUSLY ANGRY. My reaction is totally out of sync with reality. I mean, really. There is no reason why I should get so mad when I hear these terms. But I do anyway.

Cloud.

It’s so pretentious. And ultimately, I think that’s what it is. I hate pretension. (It’s ironic since I am quite pretentious and full of myself. But that’s me, and I am awesome, so all my pretension is TRUE and based on FACT so therefore, not pretentious. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Anyhow, to close out my rant, (and ignorance), a video for you. It is very meta and industry specific, but it is HILARIOUS. Especially for the insults (those kick in around the 1:45 mark). (The insults, I believe, will work in any situation.)

Nothing Brings Out Hulk Smash Like Bedtime

I used to think I was a reasonable person. (I’ll pause here as pretty much every one who has ever known me cackles in laughter and shakes their head sadly at my delusions – especially Hapa Papa.) I mean, I knew I had a temper (but dammit, I was justified!!) so when I had Cookie Monster, I made a supreme effort to never yell at him or around him. Well, the yelling around him went out the window as Hapa Papa and I adjusted to caring for a small, tiny person and a flood of hormones released their evil doings upon my normally well-adjusted person.

But the yelling at Cookie Monster – I was really awesome at that until he was about 18 months old and I was pregnant with Gamera. Then, I admit, I would yell at Cookie Monster when I was frustrated or tired. Alas, poor Gamera never had a chance to know a calm, non-yelling Mommy. (Granted, that image was a false skin anyway, but that’s not the point.) Now that I am about to imminently deliver Baby3 (still trying to think of a good nickname), my patience is worn thin (as if it were ever thick), and I’m just trying to get through the day (with lots of help from our lovely friends, iPad, iPhone, and TV).

This is all just a roundabout way of saying that I have been yelling a LOT lately and I am not proud of myself for doing so.

However, nothing brings out the yelling and exasperation like bedtime. In a related vein, nothing helps the kids drift off into a lovely, peaceful slumber quite like Mommy Hulking Out. *sigh*

The sad thing is, it’s not like I’m surprised by what goes on at bedtime. I mean, we’ve been going through this for years now, right? I should be better at this? Or more prepared? But no. I am not.

Of course, the kids are going to stall and play and be silly before bed. They don’t want to sleep! They want to play with Mommy and Papa and roll around and be near us. So why do I get so mad when they crawl out of their beds, giggling at their naughtiness and saying they need water or have to pee or poo or need another stuffed animal or have their blankets fixed? I know it takes AT LEAST half an hour for them to settle down and finally fall asleep. SO WHY DO I YELL AND SCREAM?

Mostly, it’s because I’m this close to freedom for the night. This close to staying up too late watching TV or reading or eating or playing Sudoku or something really vital to my sanity. And who is IN THE WAY of this awesome TV watching and snacking and reading? My adorably tired-but-they-don’t-know-it-yet children.

I’ve read a lot of the books on bedtimes so I’m not really looking for advice on putting kids to bed. More that this is a reminder to me to not be such a jackass at night. To not always yell at them. It’s sad to me that Cookie Monster will ask me multiple times at night, “Are you mad, Mommy? Are you happy?”

I feel such shame.

As such, I have been willfully trying not to yell at night. Sure, the occasional frustrated “GO TO SLEEP!!!” or “GET INTO BED, NOW!!!” will fly from my lips at least once a night, but it’s getting better.

I have found that sometimes, I will just close the door to their room and they will cry and scream and then after a few minutes, I will open the door and then tuck them in and because Gamera just spent all that energy screaming and Cookie Monster will have either tried to comfort his sister or will be in bed pretending to be asleep in order to kiss ass, the kids will fall asleep pretty quickly after.

I have also found that just NOT saying ANYTHING AT ALL also helps. (Because let’s face it, if I opened my mouth a string of expletives or THINGS THAT I WILL REGRET INSTANTANEOUSLY will unspool from my unruly tongue. It’s just better to not open my mouth AT ALL.) Usually, when I’m uncharacteristically silent, Cookie Monster will ask me if I’m happy and I melt and then say, “I’m happy, sweetheart. I love you.” and put them back to bed nicely. (Or at least, not so roughly.)

The last week or so has been better than I expected, but I still have MUCH room for improvement. I’m trying to wean the kids off of needing us so much while they fall asleep (I usually sit outside their door because if I don’t, then I have to walk from my room to their room to put them back in). Especially since it will be so much harder when Baby3 comes.

I just tell myself that Baby3 will not hear Mommy yell for at least a month or two, right? RIGHT?

*sigh* I am so delusional. *whimpers*