Has anyone else signed up for the “Present Plan” at their pediatric dentist’s office? Anyone? No? No one? That makes sense, since the “Present Plan” doesn’t actually exist. Unless you ask my 7-year-old. She thinks it exists because we told her exists. We told her of a special dentist’s office where they give you an actual, wrapped gift at the end of your appointment. We told her this….and by “we” I mean my husband. Not me…him. I never would have told her something so foolish because it is ridiculous. And because I want her to be able to be okay going to the dentist without the promise of a gift. But mostly because it is ridiculous.
She is terrified of the dentist. I don’t really know why, since she hasn’t ever had a bad experience, but she is just absolutely beside herself at the thought of the going to the dentist.
My husband was all, “I can get her to go to the dentist. I can make it so she is excited to go.” And I was all like, “Yea, right. Not possible.” But sure enough, he goes to have a little chat with her and 10 minutes later she is skipping around the house talking about how excited she is to go to the dentist. And he is all smug like he has just found the answer to world peace…which he kind of has.
But I am totally dumbfounded. How has he done it? How is this possible? How different could our approaches to this situation have been that the outcome is so drastically different?
My approach: Sit down with her, put my arm around her and snuggle her close. Tell her how much I love her and how I believe in her. Explain that it is okay to be nervous, but it is important to push through that fear and do what needs to be done. Point out her strength. Talk about good oral hygiene and the future of her teeth. Explain that I would never take her anywhere that was not a safe place. Listen to her talk and validate all her feelings. Sit with her awhile, as she is now a quivering emotional mess.
My husband’s approach: Sit down with her. Tell her that we have found a special kid dentist that gives a wrapped gift to each patient after their appointment. An actual wrapped-up present with a bow on top that will be waiting for her at the front desk. Assure her that he is telling the truth. Talk about how he has heard of kids getting new purses as their wrapped gift. Listen to her talk about how excited she is about the possibility that SHE will get a new purse as her gift. Validate this excitement by telling her that it is possible that she will. Walk away, as she is now skipping throughout the house with joy.
I want no part of this lie! This doesn’t feel right! This goes against what I believe in. And, yet, she isn’t afraid anymore. She is actually genuinely excited to go. Oh God. Alright, I’ll go along with it. I mean, really, what is the worst that could happen?
The worst that could happen: I forgot to buy the gift.
But why was it my job to buy the gift anyways? This whole “we found a dentist who gives presents” was his thing, not mine. He should have been the one to buy the gift, wrap the gift, and hide the gift in my car so that I could be the one to sneak it into the dentist’s office. Oh, and also, he should have been the one to have to listen to the other kids in the house grumble about how THEY wanted to go to this new dentist that gives gifts. But none of that happened and I had to somehow get a gift and wrap it up before the dentist appointment…all while she was right by my side the whole time. Impossible. Luckily my friend said that she happened to have a few brand-new Beanie Boo stuffed animals at her house and did I want her to stick one into a gift bag for me? Yay! She’ll get it to me at preschool drop off. Yay! Except that she isn’t doing drop off this morning, her husband is. So she is going to put the Beanie Boo in a gift bag with some tissue paper, give it to her husband, explain to him that he needs to give it to me…but that he has to be sort of sly about it, and then I can sneak it into my car. Where my daughter is sitting. Okay, no problem. What needs to be done is what needs to be done (and all this needs to be done to continue the “we found a dentist who gives presents” story.)
But obviously, my daughter saw the gift hiding in the front seat, because she is 7 and there was basically no way I could totally hide it.
So, I had to come up with a story to support the first absurd story: The dentist has us buy the actual gift and bring it with us. That way they know the present it something that she wants. They just deduct it from our bill at the end. (I added the part about the bill. I thought it made it more believable.) She understood. She thought it was smart of them.
Then once we got to the dentist’s office, and I was shoving the gift into my purse, I realized that she might talk about it to any other kid who was in the dentist’s waiting room.
So, I had to come up with another story to support the previous foolish stories: Don’t talk about the present to any other kids who might be in the waiting area. We signed up for the “Present Plan,” but their parents may not have. It cost extra to sign up for that plan. Their parents may have decided not to do it. We don’t want the other kids to be mad at their parents because they are not part of the “Present Plan.” She understood. She thought it was a good idea to keep quiet.
The “Present Plan”?!?! Who am I that I am trying to pitch this idiotic story to my daughter? I never wanted to get involved in this lie to begin with. Even though it worked liked a charm.
I feel like they greeted me at the dentist’s office like this:
By the way, she LOVED her Beanie Boo present. She named it after the new dentist, who she also loved. She can’t wait to go back to see him. And to get another present.