Appointments and Self-Loathing


We had dentist appointments today, the kids and I.

The last time we went, about 6 months ago, it was a wonderful experience. Instead of laughing and carrying on, they were pleasantly well-behaved, minus some joking, which came out of That Kid’s mouth. He seems unable to see the imaginary line that borders socially appropriate interaction and steps over it on a regular basis.

Before, instead of being a nuisance, the kids were loved on by office staff, who seemed to be milling about in greater abundance. The staff walked them trough the halls, assisted in choosing prizes, and even went as far as to paint the girl’s nails after their cleanings. Today, however, the kids were always underfoot and in the way. There was too many of us in too tight a space, and it didn’t help that the kids kept trying to throw balls and tip each others chairs over for sport.


And as I was decompressing this afternoon, attempting to shake away the stress from the morning, I realized one of the reasons that I hate appointments so much. They seem like a hassle and an inconvenience, because I either have to find someone to watch the kids in the middle of a workday, or I have to drag their ornery butts along with me. The latter is definitely worse.

But even more then that, and with the dentist in particular, I find that I often leave feeling like a failure.

My teeth were okay this time, minus the cavities I neglected to fill after the last appointment, and I even got a “teeth look good, mom!” I had six months to get those cavities filled, and I guess that wasn’t quite enough time. My daughter has ones that need filled, too.

And then there’s That Kid. His mouth is always the worst, which, sadly, is no surprise. It’s part of the whole persona he has going on. Pretty much every time, he needs a new cavity filled, and today, they mentioned baby root canals and temporary crowns. Like somehow we are made of money and have extra just lying around to shove in his mouth. For baby teeth.

Hours later, it’s not only my gums that are still throbbing from the aggressive flossing but my bruised ego, as well.

My siblings and I never had cavities growing up, and my son has had close to 10. His sister isn’t far behind. Inside my anxious mind, things like cavities can become a method by which I measure my effectiveness in motherhood.

Maybe I should’ve helped him brush more, I think.

Maybe I should’ve at least watched him each night.

Maybe I should’ve taken dental floss more seriously.

Maybe I should’ve demonstrated how to properly brush one’s teeth. Again.

Maybe I should’ve just done it myself (which sounds torturous, by the way).

Maybe then this appointment would’ve been better.

And I wouldn’t feel so crappy now.

Cavities are decay, and they will eventually bring death if left untreated. But death in the mouth is contained there, and it needn’t permeate the entirety of motherhood. It needn’t define it.

I’m going to try to remember that today, especially while I make the damn appointment to get those cavities filled.

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Being the Parent of “That Kid”


You know the one. That kid the other kids in class go home and tell their parents about. That kid who subscribes to the “Every-other-day Plan” for office visits. That kid who’s accustomed to being on a sad color for behavior and struggles to make friends. The kid who single-handedly has the teacher counting down the days until the end of school.

Starting in December.

“That Kid.”

Well, he’s mine.

Being the parent of that kid is a sense of panic each time the phone rings during the school day.

Being the parent of that kid is a flood of relief when 2 o’clock finally arrives and you haven’t heard from the school office yet, because that means you probably won’t. Today.

Being the parent of that kid is introducing yourself cautiously at birthday parties, for fear that the knowledge that you’re his mom might provoke an awkward conversation like:

“You’re that kid’s mom? My kid talks about your kid all the time,” the other parent replies.

“Oh really?” you say with a big smile, hoping this may be a little BFF you somehow never heard about.

“Yeah,” they respond with a smile, only theirs is obviously forced, possibly to cover up the contempt that soon bubbles over. “She says that he bullies her. And everyone else in the class.”

“Oh…” You stammer with a slight wince. “I’m so sorry.”

There are no other words to excuse or explain that.

Being the parent of that kid means sitting by yourself, with that kid, at birthday parties.

Being the parent of that kid is refereeing black-belt anger issues and worrying about the fact that he’s getting bigger and stronger.

Being the parent of that kid means enduring a tantrum about doing homework that is longer then the actual time it would take to just sit down and complete said homework.

Being the parent of that kid is rough days at school and even rougher nights at home, where he finally feels safe enough to let out all the anger he caged up during the day.

Being the parent of that kid is having to figure out how to somehow teach the social skills that every other child seems to have come naturally pre-programmed with.

Being the parent of that kid is understanding how people get to the point of physically harming their children and having to restrain yourself from doing the same.

Being the parent of that kid is wondering what you did wrong with him when all your other children are kind, respectful, and get along with others, for the most part. That somehow it must be your fault.

Being the parent of that kid is that everything is your fault in his eyes.

Being the parent of that kid is choosing to make due with a sparse pantry for days instead of risking a trip to the store with that kid, who is certain to be more ornery than the toddler.

Being the parent of that kid is being neck-deep in lies, manipulation, and stealing, and living with the heartbreak that you can never give him the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore.

Being the parent of that kid is making him confess to the store manager.

Being the parent of that kid is patting him down before he leaves for school because he feels the rules don’t apply to him.

Being the parent of that kid is loud public tantrums, complete with screaming, stomping, accusations and other charades, well beyond the terrible 2’s.

Being the parent of that kid is knowing that everyone watching is judging your “pathetic parenting skills” or gathering fodder for their petition for a government-enforced, selective procreation plan for the betterment of mankind, for which you would certainly NOT qualify.

Being the parent of that kid means attending many behavior-planning meetings at school and always bringing tissues.

Being the parent of that kid is having the phrases “keep your hands to yourself” and “use your words” on Repeat All.

Being the parent of that kid is an underlying feeling of helplessness and discouragement, knowing that at the end of the day you can only do so much, and it ultimately boils down to the choices they make.

Being the parent of that kid is wiping away his siblings’ tears when they ask why he’s so mean to them and wiping away his tears when he says he doesn’t know.

Being the parent of that kid is relief when he’s not home.

Being the parent of that kid is dreading the summer for the same reason that all the other moms seem to be looking forward to it: he will be home with you all the time.

Being the parent of that kid is getting kicked out of the local library, park, and Sunday School class at church.

Being the parent of that kid is a lack of willing babysitters, family dinners out at restaurants, and invitations to friend’s houses. Because of him.

Being the parent of that kid is wanting to shout to everyone who would listen that you worked as a social worker, for crying out loud (I know, I know…I used to roll my eyes at parents like me when I worked in the field), that you love God and go to church, that you are doing everything you can think of to help this child. But you refrain. Because, perhaps, that would make you look even more desperate then you already are.

Being the parent of that kid is having every worst-case-behavioral-scenario planned out in your head before stopping by the local summer festival, and instead of it being crazy over-thinking, one of them materializes before your very eyes.

Being the parent of that kid is learning the hard way that it’s just easier to stay home.

Being the parent of that kid is knowing that next year’s teacher has already heard all about him and that he’s screwed before he even walks in the door.

Being the parent of that kid is living a Catch 22–you feel terrible that you’re frustrated with him most of the time, but most of the time he gives you good reason to be.

Being the parent of that kid is an unwavering hope that one day he’ll “get it” and mature, coupled with a feeling of despair when you realize, once again, today is not that day.

Being the parent of that kid is the fear he may grow up to be a delinquent and the realization that your behavior in light of those fears may become the self-fufilling prophecy that puts him there.

Being the parent of that kid is your broken heart wandering around in this tough world, because you can see in his eyes how hard it is to be him. How lonely, how discouraged, how crummy he must feel inside.

Being the parent of that kid is loving him no matter what and never giving up.

I was inspired to write this post after I read one about Being Poor, because it was an eye-opening look into the life of another–into their hardships, thoughts, and worries. It was a rare gift of perspective, as I hope this was.