I hate going to the dentist. Always have. In fact, there was a long stretch of time when I didn't go and the longer I put it off, the worse my fear got. I horribilized in my head, all the horrible things that would happen if I went. Turns out that when I did finally go, nothing horrible happened. They checked my teeth, told me that I had no cavities and told me to remember to floss. Since that particular visit, I've been going regularly but I still dread going and I still think that with every visit, something horrible will happen.
With my kids, it's even worse. When they were much younger, when they did get some cavities, I felt such shame. (It's a mother thing.) It felt like a report card on parenting that the dentist gave me ... "Your daughter has 1 cavity and your son has 2." I convinced myself that the cavities were a reflection of my poor mothering skills.
If my kids could chime in right now, they'd tell you that in our house, I am a bit intense about the whole teeth thing as I walk around badgering them day and night ... making sure that they've brushed, flossed, and rinsed.
So anyway, this spring break, I took the kids to the dentist. And because we had had some problems with our dental insurance for a few months, I had missed a couple of regular appointments for them and me. And sure enough, I started horribilizing what would happen at this appointment. Had they brushed enough? Had they flossed enough? What if the dentist came out to chastize me for all the horrible things that I was doing, as evidenced by the cavities and other oral hygeiene issues that were going on in their mouths?
Horribilizing is what I do when it comes to teeth.
So it was the moment of truth. 1 Spring Break. 3 Dental Checkups. The results?
Me: zero cavities.
Monica: zero cavities.
Andrew: one cavity.
The staff asked in the most non-horrible way ... "So, when can you bring Andrew back to get his cavity filled?"
"Um ... how about in two weeks?"
"You got it. We'll see you in two weeks. Oh by the way, Andrew was wondering if we could do something so that his 'fangs' were less noticible and so we told him that his 'fangs' were normal but that if he wants us to try and sand them down, we could do it but we'd need your permission first."
"Uh ... that would be a no. No need to get rid of his normal fangs. We'll see you in two weeks."
So that's it. Nothing horrible happened. And you know what? I'm finally realizing that the most horrible thing that happens in terms of these appointments is what happens in my head ... as I construct my own horrible scenario based on irrational thinking.
We all have things we horribilize. The dentist. The tax man. The doctor's visit. But you know what? The worst case scenario is never as horrible as we imagine them to be. I mean, even if the checkup resulted in someone needing a root canal ... it would be "When can you come in to get your root canal?"
It's when we keep putting things off with these not-so-fun parts of life that they can fester and become a bigger deal than they ever need to be.
Don't forget to floss ... fangs and all. ;)