After some parenting conversations over the past few days, my mind did several somersaults regarding the resilience of our children. I don’t know whether fear is taught or genetic, whether shyness is part of who we are inside or learned, or any variation of the bigger personality questions that parents face everyday. To be honest, I don’t really understand why my kids do any number of things that my kids do day in and day out. I can joke and blame genetics, but mostly I’m just trying to stay a half a step ahead of them on any given day.
I’m just trying to act like I know what I’m doing when they look to me for guidance.
Take today as an example: I hate the dentist. Genetically speaking, I have my dad’s very groovy — and not in the cool way — teeth. I have horrible, awful, no good, very bad memories of dentist visits gone awry from my youth. I equate dentist visits with levels of hades. I’d honestly rather give birth again, I kid you not.
As we walked through the parking lot today, heading toward the dentist’s office, my youngest son said in his sweetest voice, “Isn’t the dentist the best place ever, Mommy?”
I wanted to yell, “HECK NO, CHILD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
Best place ever? Good golly, no. I can think of a million and one place I would rather be, Disney World included — and I hate Disney World. I hate all things dentistry related. I hate wiggly teeth and gaping holes in smiles. I hate plaque and tartar. I hate my slightly misaligned teeth. I hate tooth pain and popcorn hulls. I hate the way that most toothpaste tastes. I hate the sound of teeth on spoons. I hate the spit sucker and the feeling of the poky instrument. I hate the sound of scraping teeth and filling teeth and the taste of flouride. I hate the way the cement feels as it chokes you when they make your teeth molds. I find it practically impossible to think the dentist’s office could be anything more than a legal torture chamber.
And yet, I squeezed his hand a little tighter as we hopped up the curb and stepped closer to the front door. “Yes, the dentist is a fun place to go! Teeth are so important!” Sure they are, for gritting together as you lie through them to your precious, impressionable child.
He looked up at me and smiled, following his brother in the door.
Maybe it’s easier when your grandma works at the dentist’s office. Maybe it’s easier in 2013 than it was in the 1980′s — without television and toy boxes and cotton candy flavored fluoride treatments. Maybe they’re just braver than I was at the time. Maybe they possess entirely different personality traits than I do. Maybe their fears will be completely different. Maybe they’ll even be less afraid of things than I was, than I am, than I will ever hope to be.
I don’t know.
But I do know that watching them be brave and courageous today didn’t teach me to be less afraid. It made me want to be less afraid though, so maybe there’s hope for me yet. Excuse me while I put on my brave face and begin research on things like “lengthening lower jaws” and overbites and any number of things that probably require a number of advanced degrees to even begin to understand. I just hope there aren’t pictures of wiggly teeth on any of these articles.