Thursday, I took J to her dental appointment, we were both excited, eager to remedy the visible decay spots that was gouging out entire teeth, brown and broken, and today she was going to get them cared for.
She was excited, wanted no more ‘ouchy’. She hopped up on the chair and we chatted with the dentists that would be working on her teeth. She got her first shots–and her hands gripped the chair.
J is from a very rural part of the country, so many things are new to her, especially dental care. The dentist decided to do the root canal first, a chance at being able to chew food normally on the left side. When he turned on the machine that would dig out all the decay she started to panic, “TITA AMY!!!!!!!!!!” she yelled.
And she yelled.
I held her hand and awesome Linzey got out essential oils and rubbed her feet. We explained it was no pain, that the doctor was just filling up her tooth, but she was too panicked. And she cried and yelled.
And yelled. It wasn’t quiet.
And sweat dripped off her face, as her rotten teeth stared back at us in her open mouth.
“I don’t think I can do this…” the dentist said, panicked himself.
I climbed up on the chair with her and she gripped my hands with both of hers as tightly as she could. “This is her one chance,” I said.
“She’s not in pain,” the dentist said, “She’s probably just scared of the noise.”
I put on the Frozen sound track through my phone, and sang it to her, all about a foot from the dentists face, who, continued working. As fast as he could.
“If she was in pain, she would bolt, she’s a spit fire,” I told them.
And even though she was terrified, she stayed in the chair, clutching my hands. And yelling. It wasn’t quiet.
For an hour and a half, I hunched on the dentist chair with her, as the scared tears slipped down her face, and she yelled, and instruments whirred. He first real dental work, Elsa and Anna, singing their lungs out from my pocket.
“Amazing work,” Linzey encouraged the two dentists, flying at their work, determined to change her life for the better forever.
Towards the end, she started to lose her voice, but didn’t. Quit. Yelling. “You know what this reminds me of,” the dentist said, not looking up, but moving as fast as he could, filling her broken tooth with strong enamel, “It’s like when God asks us to do something because it will be best for us, and even though it doesn’t hurt, we scream and cry, just because we are scared. We don’t know if it will actually turn out best, even though it always does.”
“So true,” I agreed. It actually made me smile, as I got a front row view of in depth dental work.
When the tooth was done, awesome Linzey took us to pick out a toy, and we all heard a ringing in our ear drums from the sudden silence. She smiled, which I couldn’t believe and picked out a Tinkerbell note pad with pen.
The dentist said there was one more tooth, and it had to be pulled, it was causing her the most pain, and since she was already numb, he could do it in 5 minutes…
She covered her mouth and cried, “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”
“It’s ok,” we told her and we thanked the staff. Profusely. They deserve medals, that was so intense. I almost felt like I had gone through labor. The dentist didn’t think she would be willing to come back Monday for the final, needed tooth care.
We waved goodbye to the tired staff, J even gave one a hug.
She and I got in the car, it was dark out, past dinner and we started driving home, she and I both stared out the window, tired, my forearms like jello. When we were almost home, I forgot I had promised her ice cream.
“Do you want to go home for dinner, or still get the ice cream?”
“Ice cream,” she said, horsly.
We stopped at Target and got a big tub.
We walked by a mirror, “Do you want to see your tooth?” I asked, not even sure what kind of response I would be getting from her at this point. She’s a girl who loves to take selfies, loves to look cute.
She opened her mouth, looking for the deep, brown hole of a tooth.
And saw a bright, shiny, full white, healthy tooth.
A huge smile crept across her tired face.
“My tooth!” she said, and looked at me, in a new way.
Never before has she experienced a parent relationship of trust and love. One where someone wants whats best for you, always. Who is there for her, and what she needs.
At the dentist she was scared, she didn’t know what to do, in her eyes hurt was hurt. And hurt was bad.
We walked past the toy aisle, and she looked in any reflective surface we stepped past, her mouth open, gazing at the new tooth. Smiling, a real smile.
“I love your beautiful, princess tooth,” I told her. And the little spit-fire hugged me. I was kind of in a cloudy state of mind from the past two hours, and it totally took me off guard.
We walked by the toy aisle, and she found a princess Anna doll. “Wow! Please, Tita?”
“Well…yes. I will buy you that doll if you go to the dentist, one more time, on Monday.”
“Ok…” she said.
“Ok?” I repeated, a little shocked.
“Ok” she said, staring at Anna.
She woke up early, happy. She showed off her tooth to Andrew smiling.
Initiated hugs, which had previously only been us.
Asked to help us with things, brought us over to show us when she did, smiling at us, looking for our approval, eyes lighting up when we told her we were proud of her.
“YAY!” she’d say, and hug us.
While I was cooking dinner last night, Maria asked if she could flip the chicken, “Sure,” I told her.
“Me too!” said J.
They took turns, flipped the chicken, back and forth, mostly preventing the chicken from actually being cooked they scooped up their turns so quickly, they were so proud. “Daddy, we made this whole dinner!” Maria told everyone at dinner, J smiled and nodded. I nodded, “Sure….um, yep!”
But what shocked us the most, was today during the boys nap times. Maria hung out with me doing things inside, and J asked to help Andrew.
She has spent very little time showing any interest in forming a relationship with Andrew, and at her lowest times, actively avoids him. We obviously force nothing, and when she is in a dark place, I will usually be the one to go.
Today, Andrew was planting an Avocado tree, and she asked to help.
They worked together for an hour. Andrew was amazed by it, and came in to tell me. I was shocked, too. She worked long and hard, so happy to be helping. Sometimes I think the thought of helping orphans or kids in need can seem overwhelming time wise, we are all busy. But it’s usually allowing them to be incorporated with what we are already doing, real life things, that they love the most. They know when they are actually helping us. No such thing as time wasted.
When someone gets hurt, many orphans don’t know how to respond, they have never been comforted in a loving way. Many children from orphanages laugh when they see someone hurt, something we have been working with J on, “We don’t laugh when someone is hurt.”
“Oh…” she would say, contemplative.
Today, she saw Andrew with blood on his hand, “Tito!!!!” she exclaimed, “Oh no, Tito,” she was genuinely worried about him.
“I’m ok,” he smiled at her.
“I’m proud of you, you did it, even though you were so scared….
And next time, no more crying!”
I’ll have to let you know if we come home with this little doll 😉
As elated as we are for her that her teeth will be so whole and functioning for her life, as much as this endeavor turned into a huge lesson for trust for this little girl that we hadn’t foreseen, it was also a good lesson, again, to Andrew and I. It reminded us, again, what this whole life thing is about, it’s about Love. And love matters, and it’s the only thing that actually heals broken hearts.
And none of it’s easy, and it takes effort, but it’s worth it.
Also, that’s the theme of Frozen, so, preachin to the choir, obviously.