Riley’s fervent adherence to school rules has been a bit of a surprise this year. Given the two extremes, I’d much rather deal with a kid who is maybe a little too rigid about school than one who’s constantly getting in trouble, but his attitude hasn’t been without its challenges. At a recent parent teacher conference, his teacher confessed that she worried about him a little — he did just fine in the classroom, but in less structured environments (like the playground) he’s sometimes a little … lost at sea. He worries about whether other kids are doing the right thing, and has on occasion tattled on another kid for doing something he perceives as wrong — for instance, there was a blowup a couple weeks ago when a boy wasn’t “letting girls go first” on the tetherball, and being mean to one girl in the process, and Riley told on him. That all erupted in a giant freakout from the other kid, screaming he didn’t want to be Riley’s friend any more, and his teacher — bless her heart — actually ended up telling the other kid that she’d already known, to save Riley the trauma of being The One Who Got Him in Trouble, and …

Well. Anyway, so we’ve been talking a lot about problem solving (and it’s all so difficult, because he gets teary-eyed and comes back with “But the teachers say to tell when there’s a problem!”) but my point here is that Riley’s oddly serious about certain things, and one of those things is brushing his teeth. There was a program at the beginning of the school year, I guess it involved a film and other things, and ever since he’s been so, so diligent about brushing and flossing. “I don’t want to get cavities,” he says. “I don’t want to have to get that drill.”

Given this newfound focus on oral hygiene, it seems particularly awful that what I thought was going to be a routine dental checkup yesterday turned into Riley’s First Tooth Extraction.

He had this shark-row thing going on his lower front teeth — two loose but stubborn baby teeth, with the permanents crowding right behind — and while one finally fell out, the other was just hanging in there. We set up the appointment to have it looked at, and I told him that’s all they were going to do, but I was suuuuuuuuuper wrong.

JB took him to the appointment (he’s always taken the boys to their dental cleanings, because, I can’t lie, I’ve always been too terrified of their reactions). I got a few extremely tense text updates during the two-hour process, but the real story was in how he looked when they got home: white-faced, with a sort of ‘Nam thousand-yard-stare in his eyes. (I’m talking about JB, here. Riley was tear-streaked but already ready to show me his tooth.)

They’d decided that since the tooth definitely needed to come out, it’d be best to just get it over with, and as soon as Riley got wind of what was happening he completely lost his shit. There are times when my sensitive boy reacts to something (a scraped knee, say) with so much drama that I have zero patience for it, but a tooth being pulled? Yeah, that legitimately sucks a whole lot. I can’t even imagine what all went on in that room — the screaming, the panicking, the entire team trying to calm him, JB having to physically hold him down, the failed nitrous, the fact that some of the cherry-scented stuff they put in the nitrous managed to get in Riley’s EYE — but it took so much out of JB he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done as a parent.

“When it was finally all over, I just … I don’t know, I hugged the dentist,” he told me. “I just really needed a hug from someone right then.”

Poor Riley. Poor JB. God, when you have a tiny baby and your entire being is dedicated to keeping them safe from harm, no one ever tells you that someday you will have to restrain their terrified bodies while someone pulls a tooth out of their jaw. PARENTHOOD, MAN.

PS: Here’s a picture Riley drew of some of the instruments they used. According to JB, the team tried to tell him one device was a “tooth hugger.” Riley shot back, sobbing: “THOSE ARE PLIERS!!!!”

Screen shot 2012-11-13 at 1.54.13 PM

The Tooth Fairy was woefully unprepared last night, but she rush-ordered this, because 1) he loves How to Train Your Dragon, and 2) c’mon. TOOTHLESS.

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Jessica
Jessica
11 years ago

I’m (along with Chris) going to take our son to the dentist for the first time this week. I’m hoping there will be no freak outs, but luckily, it’s just for the 1st check so we don’t have to commit to anything. I cannot imagine a more horrible scenario than having to hold his body down while they pulled his tooth. Poor JB.

Ang
Ang
11 years ago

Poor, poor Riley!!! It probably was better to get it over with because I can see him losing sleep over WORRYING about the tooth that has to come out another time. I had 18 teeth pulled as a kid, my teeth did not want to come out!

NK
NK
11 years ago

You could have said no. You can always say no.

Tessa
Tessa
11 years ago

Man, at least I hope his dentist was nice. As a 3rd grader, mine scratched the shit outta my gum with the scraper thing, prompting me to clamp my mouth shut. He then told me that if I didn’t open my mouth, he would take me out to the waiting room full of people, pull down my pants, and spank me. I didn’t tell my mom until I was 30+ – we didn’t have much $ and they had invested so much in my braces, and he was the only game in town.

Um…anyway. Poor Riley. Poor you guys.

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
11 years ago

Poor Riley and poor JB but how funny (now) that Riley knew the real name of those pliers.

Christy
Christy
11 years ago

I’m not a mom, but this post completely made me tear up. Poor Riley, and poor, poor JB. My heart goes out to him, needing a hug from the dentist. It must’ve been terrible for both of them. Glad to hear that Riley seems to have rebounded well. Dragon well, WELL deserved! Maybe JB needs a fun surprise gift, too??

Laura M.
Laura M.
11 years ago

Man, that plier drawing is the stuff of nightmares.

Meagan
11 years ago

Oh man… That’s rough. I gotta admit, I cheered for him a little when he refused to take any of that “tooth hugger” crap, for all the good it did him. :-/ Sounds like his next trip to the dentist will require a sizable bribe…

sooboo
sooboo
11 years ago

Man, I do not know how you parents do it. Poor J.B and Riley although I’m sure Riley will forget about it sooner than J.B. My mom had to help doctors put me in restraints when I was three in order to remove bandages from my eyes. I have no memory of it but my mom cried when she told me about it. Also, (and I’m saying this as a professional artist) that is a really emotive and awesome drawing. Talk about form and content coming together!

bittenbyknittin
11 years ago

I am 60 and just had my first tooth extraction a month ago and I am still not over it. My son had a baby tooth extracted (and I too left it up to his dad) – I’ll have to ask him if he remembers it and if he is scarred for life.

Rachael
11 years ago

Oh man, can I relate to this. We called Ian the Morality Police at about this age because he was so concerned with what the other kids were doing to misbehave. He would complain about these horrible kids in his class and I’d go to the school all Mother Bear ready to take on the bullies and the teacher would say, “That kid isn’t even in Ian’s class.” He was so sensitive that he felt like every injustice was directed at him, personally. So, yeah. Sensitive kids! And then one time he had to have an IV when he had the flu and the horrible nurses told me it would be better if I waited outside while they did it, and all I could hear was him screaming and sad. And now I feel like shit and also I made this all about me so I guess I am my mom.

Christie
11 years ago

OMG… I’m taking both my kids to the dentist tomorrow, and I’ve been having low grade anxiety over it for weeks. They are 8 and 10 almost and have never had any real issues with the dentist, but I have issues. Man, do I have issues! I hope both your men are ok.

Maggie
11 years ago

Poor Riley and JB! I have had some really bad dental experiences in my life so my husband takes the kids to all of their appointments because I just can’t. Something like that would have done me in.

My daughter hates the doctor and always has. She is only 3, so I’m in the room with her the whole time and her doctor is the nicest person on earth. Doesn’t matter, she cries the second the doctor walks in and falls apart. Getting her shots is a hold her down experience that leaves everyone sad, sweaty, and emotionally drained. Damn does it suck to have to hold your wailing kid down while a doctor does something necessary. Emotional eating always results. Ice cream is my BFF for an hour or so.

Katharine
11 years ago

Oh, your poor boys. That’s sucky.

But I guarantee you that you’ll laugh about this in a couple of years. Because I laughed when reading it, especially Riley’s you-can’t-fool-me retort. You got a great kid (and a great husband for taking the tackle on this one).

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

I saw your Twitter feed about this and had been worried about Riley and JB since reading it. I am glad JB went through with it, because even though it was AWFUL, it’s now OVER. If he had said no and had to wait, the anxiety over that would be so much worse, I think. Riley sees through bullshit, and called the dentist out on it, which is great, in my opinion.

I know you want to be a sponge and soak up all of his struggles,(or at least this one) but we can’t. Hopefully, handling those extraordinary experiences will help Riley down the road.

Erin
Erin
11 years ago

Oh dear, I’m taking my daughter Riley to the dentist on Thursday for some shark teeth herself. Tiny baby teeth are barely loose and the big teeth are already halfway grown in on her bottom jaw. I don’t think I can handle them deciding to pull them out without some warning. *gulp*

Meg
Meg
11 years ago

Oh man, that all is so sad. I saw your tweet last night, and now this post, and I’m so teary because I know how you feel, and how JB felt, and how horrible it is to see a sensitive little guy feel so scared and helpless. I love his no-shit reaction to the “huggers”, and holy crap that drawing is terrifying. Poor baby. I hope everyone recovers. And way to go, Tooth Fairy. :)

Christine
11 years ago

You poor things. All of you.

I had extractions as a kid, but I was older and very blase about the dentist. Last year I had to hold down my just-turned-3-year-old while she got a filling, and that was horrible. (It was supposed to be a crown, but the gas wasn’t working and the dentist said “Let’s just make it a filling, kay?” because she was writhing and screaming so much. Such a horrible experience as a parent.

ste
ste
11 years ago

Poor Riley. I got teeth pulled starting when I was in grade 2 (I’ve had 15 teeth pulled in my life). The second time I had to go in I wouldn’t stop crying and so they rescheduled and also sent me home with a prescription so that I’d be a little drowsy when I got there. I hope Riley is ok soon.

Mariya
Mariya
11 years ago

Oh man, isn’t that the worst?! Then thinking of how scared they were makes you feel even worse for not being there but you know that if you were there you might have started crying too….ohhh the joys of parenting. Such a bittersweet experience. The Toothless stuffed animal was a total parenting win :)

Danell
Danell
11 years ago

*tooth huggers*

I think you all should, from this point forward, call all pliers “tooth huggers.”

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

ugh. My sister, to this day, swears that the numbing stuff (technical term) that my mom swears she saw them inject into her foot didn’t work and she felt EVERY SINGLE THING as the dr. dug a bee stinger out of her foot while my mom laid on top of her to hold her down.

They DO NOT tell you these things in the baby books!!! We are all woefully under-prepared! Hugs to all of you. I have to take the 5 year old to the dentist next week. I’ve gone from nervous to terrified – JUST IN CASE.

Anne B
Anne B
11 years ago

Maybe you’ve seen this a million times, but I teach 1st grade and I spend a lot of time teaching and modeling the concepts on this sign:

http://allthingskatiemarie.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-reporting-vs-tattling-poster.html

The Harmful vs. harmless distinction is particularly difficult to get across sometimes.

You’re doing such an awesome job understanding and dealing with Riley’s sensitivities. I see a lot of parents who really push their kids too hard. You are doing just the right thing by being firm but understanding.

Courtney
Courtney
11 years ago

Oh!! Oh oh oh! Oh poor Riley! Poor JB, who in the long run is probably more traumatized than Riley (does he get a tooth fairy present too?)! Poor YOU!

I had our first daughter yesterday. She’s currently about 8lbs of rainbows, ponies and sparkles. But thanks to your honest writing about your experience raising your children, I feel more prepared for this roller coaster. Thanks Linda for sharing the bad with the good.

Navigating the Mothership

Oh wow, this made me tear up. Glad Riley came home okay(ish) but I feel for all of you. And your husband just needing a hug at that moment? Ugh, tough stuff.

I have only taken my daughter to the dentist once and apparently they do it in an open group setting so kids can see it’s not scary (!?!??!?!?!?!) How does this work out most days? I mean, SERIOUSLY? Given the unpredictability of children and the fact that the dentist is a place of scary instruments and painful procedures and !@?#?@#H(*FHJSDIJ

Anyway, thank god my daughter didn’t fully get what was happening since she was so little at the time, but for months after she wanted to hear about the girl who was screaming at the dentist.

Donna
Donna
11 years ago

Omg. Poor boys…. I can’t imagine. And Tessa? WTF? Your dentist needed his ass beat.
My grandkids, even the give year old are champs at the dentist, nitrous and iv drugs for pulling teeth. It’s good cuz it would kill me to have to fight with them like that.
Your poor boys.

SJ
SJ
11 years ago

Reading this took me back to a time when I had a very similar experience with my older son; he was 4 and had a cavity ridden baby tooth filled. Dentist was worried that it would affect his adult tooth and so … yeah, it was horrible. I am the one who takes the kids to the dentist because my husband hates anything and everything about the place so yea, I’m virtually hugging JB right now for what he went through (not to be creepy or whatever, but OH BOY do I ever understand). Luckily my boy doesn’t remember the experience at all but the look of terror on his face when they numbed his gum with novocaine, the bulging eyes and look of terror on his face when the drilling started, I will NEVER forget the experience. Ugh, I’m so sorry you guys.

Tracey (sparkyd)
Tracey (sparkyd)
11 years ago

Gah. Horrible. Took me back to only a few weeks ago when I had to hold my (5 year old) son down – with the help of the receptionist in the doctor’s office – so he could get two stitches in his chin. The trauma. He didn’t want to be touched after the freezing needle (can’t blame him) and unfortunately said it hurt when the doctor touched to see if it was frozen enough to do the stitches. Of course it probably didn’t hurt, but his 5-year old mind just thought if he said that the doctor would stay away. So wrong. More freezing! While the stitches were going in my son was looking me in the eyes PLEADING for me to make it stop, and from his tone he was having a hard time understanding why I was letting this continue to happen. NOT a good feeling for a Mom. Quite horrible actually. At least I had the reassurance that no one was actually hurting him (post freezing, anyway). He got to do whatever he wanted that afternoon.

Big hugs to you all. And good luck with the dentist!

melanie
melanie
11 years ago

OMG I think our kids are related… my oldest boy sounds so much like Riley, strict rule follower at school, very diligent about dental care and yet he has NEVER had a good check-up, and he’s walking around with 3 stainless crowns because according to his dentist “he got the short end of the stick in baby teeth” this last trip (he’d been using ACT for a year) the dentist announced NO cavities YAY first time ever, but there is a gum infection (WTF) he says 90% clear up with antibiotics come back in 14 days for recheck. I went home with silent tears streaking down my face because I KNEW he would fall in the 10% because thats just his flipping dental LUCK… so in the same month he fell awkwardly in one of those inflatable places and ended up with a cast from arm pit to knuckles, he also got his first tooth extracted and seriously I almost had to run to the bathroom to puke just with the anticipation. Drew took it really rather well, he held it together until we walked out the doors of the dentist and just LOST it, big big sobs. In the grand scheme of things, I know how freaking lucky we are… but damn, remember when they were infants and we thought shot days were AWFUL… yeah that was NOTHING.

melanie
melanie
11 years ago

oh and Drew got a lego kit after the appointment, he should have aimed higher I was ready TO PAY OUT!

Lisa Ann
11 years ago

I recently had a really bad extraction (bad because the tooth cracked into a million pieces and was lodged in my gum). DDS was afraid to give me any more novocain, I can’t stomach the gas…. it took over 3 hours and we all needed a hug when it was over. I feel for Riley & JB. The good news is that it’s over. Hopefully all his brushing & flossing will pay off and he won’t have further issues.

Kami
Kami
11 years ago

“When it was finally all over, I just … I don’t know, I hugged the dentist,” he told me. “I just really needed a hug from someone right then.”

Totally just pissed em. Hilarious.

NancyJ
NancyJ
11 years ago

OMG poor Riley and JB! I’m glad they both survived and I bet he’ll love that stuffed animal thing.
Only tooth pull my son endured was a baby tooth that got a filling and the sort of died! They pulled it but I think it came out really easily and he had a spacer for a few years til the adult tooth came in.
Now ask me about the trip to the hospital when he fell off the bed and I drove so my husband could hold him and I left the freakin car RUNNING in the parking lot for about an hour because I was so freaked out!

Josey
11 years ago

Oh goodness…PARENTHOOD,MAN. This scares the shit out of me, and I only have a sick 11 month old right now. Poor Riley and JB. :(

Amber
Amber
11 years ago

It’s probably a good thing none of the parenthood stories sunk in before I had kids (8 and 6). I know I heard about all the “stuff” but some how, my pre-parent dreams had me cuddling the newborn then miraculously fast-fowarded to when they graduated from medical school.

I don’t remember the visions involving me holding down a child at the dentist, doctor and ER; explaining what F-U-C-K spells and why we can’t use that word in everyday language; dealing with a child that suddenly doesn’t like the feel of any kind of underwear, pant or socks.

. . . . .Parenthood, man.

Morgan
Morgan
11 years ago

I too had a tooth extraction that required 4 dental hygienists to hold me down, and I was only about 7. To this day, I still HATE the dentist (seriously, tell me to scoot down and strap me in some stirrups; I’d still rather be there than at the dentist), but I seriously doubt it had to do with this one sole incident. I totally understand poor Riley’s pain, but I laughed so hard at JB’s need for a hug and Riley’s correct ID of the pliers. Does this mean I’m going to be a bad mom? Something tells me I’m going to laugh at really inopportune times…

jonniker
11 years ago

JB hugged the dentist. OMG, he hugged the dentist. I just . . . that’s all I need to know about the awfulness of the situation. Poor everyone. Poor JB and poor, poor Riley.

But . . . he just really needed to HUG someone right then! OH!

Oh. Oh how awful.

Suburban Snapshots
11 years ago

Those are definitely pliers. I hope recovery is going well, poor guy(s).

Mary
11 years ago

One of the worst moments of my parenting life was when my four year old was having stitches put into his split chin, while he SCREAMED, and it took five nurses to hold him down, and they made me go stand in the corner because I was crying so hard. I am NOT a person who cries and falls apart. It was horrible. Poor JB. Poor Riley. Poor you.

gingerest
gingerest
11 years ago

Aw, man, JB hugged the dentist. And I am so impressed that Riley was all, “NONE OF YOUR CUDDLY LIES, TOOTH PROFESSIONALS, I KNOW HAND TOOLS WHEN I SEE THEM.”

My mother was scarred for life by having to hold me down for a spinal tap. I remember absolutely nothing of it but I am pretty sure she thought everything that ever went wrong between us arose from that moment. (It didn’t. And besides, you can get paralyzed if you move during a spinal tap, she totally did the right thing and the doctors didn’t really give her a choice.)

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
11 years ago

Oh your poor boys. My Son is not great about remembering to brush his teeth but every time he goes to the dentist his teeth look great. The last time he went though she showed my Husband his x-rays and he has top teeth coming in sideways that need to be pulled. Then there was mention of a pallet spreader and various other things :( The good thing is, HE isn’t the one worried about the whole thing, it’s ME.

Antropologa
11 years ago

I once had to get my kid to let someone investigate her rectum. So I feel you.

Ris
Ris
11 years ago

Oh god poor JB, poor Riley. If it makes you feel any better (I hope it does!) I had to get a tooth pulled for the same reason when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I hardly remember it at all. My mom cried, of course, but afterward everyone was so nice to me and I kept thinking “Well, that wasn’t *that* bad.”

Veronica
Veronica
11 years ago

Oh, my. That sucks, and I’m so sorry you – all of you – had to go through that.

I’ve had to hold my son down during a dental appointment. By the time it was all over and we could leave I was shaking so hard I couldn’t drive my car. We had to sit out in the stupid parking lot for 10 minutes while I calmed down.

Thankfully kids are resilient and parents get to see that and know things will be ok… eventually.

Christina
11 years ago

Gawsh I know how JB felt. My daughter recently tested positive for Whooping cough (OMFG RT?!) and a few weeks before that Strep. Obv. you know they swab the back of the throat for Strep. Whooping cough? They swab the inside of one’s nose for that test with an itty bitty teeny tiny q-tip looking thing. It took FIVE full grown adults including me (and one of the five was a male nurse) to hold down my four year old to get that swab. Just getting her to take deep breathes for the dr to listen to her lungs are torture. He was very patient unlike that bitchy NP we saw a few days before or helps her down and scratched her chest…

Any who, after two doctor’s visits in less than a week (plus the Strep throat swab visit a few weeks before), I felt like the walking dead crossed with Mommy Dearest. GAWD. Needless to say, I am sending my hubs to the follow up dr. appt today. I cannot handle ANOTHER visit to the doctor with her. Total suckage.

akofaolain
akofaolain
11 years ago

The same thing happened with my son, but luckily his baby teeth FINALLY came out the week before his extraction appointment. Now I know how lucky that really was. Poor Riley! :(

MyFrogs
MyFrogs
11 years ago

This is kinda good to reinforce the brushing, so they only have to go in for cleanings. My kids have been to the dentist SO many times, my youngest seems to have weak teeth. I think it helps that the staff is REALLY friendly and we’ve been going to the same place for years.

MEP
MEP
11 years ago

Poor JB! Being the parent is definitely tougher than being the kid in these situations. I’m glad Riley’s not too traumatized. PS – I have forgotten to play Tooth Fairy at least three times the morning after my daughter has lost a tooth. Mom of the Year.

Danyelle
11 years ago

Poor JB! My husband took my daughter to have warts surgically removed from her feet. (They wouldn’t have to do surgery and put her to sleep if she had been older/ more cooperative in the office.) But it was one of those things where once they wake up, they get to leave. She woke up screaming bloody murder that her feet hurt, but the doctor insisted it shouldn’t be hurting, she was just starting to regain feeling in them. He called me in a panic because he didn’t know what to do- listen to the doctor or our daughter. It was bad and we both felt awful over it.
Now reading your story about Riley’s shark teeth, I’m nervous again because we just saw last week that she too has shark teeth and baby teeth that don’t want to come out. I do feel a little better hearing he was okay when he got home though.