When I received a call reminding me of a dental check-up, I was faced with a dilemma: whether or not to arrange childcare. I debated asking someone to watch my son, but felt as though asking for those kind of favors should really be saved for times when they are truly necessary. Also, I felt it would be good to set a precedent with my son of getting used to having to tag along on these sorts of errands once in a while.
I remember the first time I faced this dilemma: It was a mere few weeks after my son was born. I had made the appointment thinking I would be on maternity leave and I wouldn’t need to worry about the time of day, but without thinking about what I would do with the baby. Luckily, it was an early appointment and my husband went in to work a little late so he could watch the baby for me. At the appointment, my dental hygienist said it was fine to bring my son with me.
A few months later I did, for my next six-month check-up. At least he still fit in his infant carrier and when he began to cry, I rocked him with one hand while my teeth were being cleaned. I was reminded of that today, as he sat opposite me in his stroller, alternating between babbling and slowly going from whiny to crying, then back again as soon as anyone paid him any attention. The hygienist was very friendly and kept drawing his attention to the decorations around her: a brightly painted gecko on the ceiling and a plush flower with a fabric covered wire stem that was wrapped around the light over the chair where I sat.
I remember tagging along with my own mother as a child. Not at the dentist in particular, but other sorts of errands. I learned to entertain myself, whether with something I’d brought along, or just by observing my surroundings. Unlike me, she had no relatives in the area whom she could ask to watch me. I remember only a couple of isolated incidents where she asked some elderly ladies up the street to baby-sit.
In general, I try to avoid situations where my son is cooped up in a stroller or car seat for long periods of time. He walks well and likes to use his new skills, but isn’t fond of having his hand held, nor does he get the concept of following in the direction I am walking, and he still stumbles easily. However, sometimes it is unavoidable and all in all, I am proud of his behavior at the dentist’s office. It certainly could have been worse.
I am also glad I didn’t ask anyone to baby-sit. It turns out I have another appointment coming up soon, one where he can’t tag along. Time to call in a favor.
J LeBlanc is a former high school teacher who resides in Lebanon, N.H. She is currently taking a break from teaching to stay home with her 8-month-old son.
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