I had someone ask me the other day where I take our kids to get their teeth cleaned. She said, “I need to find a good dentist for my son. With all those kids, you must have a great kid dentist!” I told her who I go to, and said, “He’s just a regular ol’ dentist. No bells and whistles, no video games or TVs, just a regular dentist.” She was shocked that I don’t take them to a dentist where they can zone out, completely numb to what is going on around them, watching a tv in the ceiling or playing video games in the waiting room.
Wanna know why?
Our culture is all about the path of least resistance. We want what we want now, with no pain, and by George, we want to be entertained!
I hate that. My kids already have things easier than I would like them to most of the time. Comparing the way I grew up with the way they are growing up makes me squirm sometimes. I want them to appreciate what they have, work for it, and not take it for granted. I want them to suffer consequences for their mistakes. And that goes for their teeth, too. I want them to know going to the dentist is nothing to be scared of…as long as you eat healthy and take care of your teeth. Granted, genetics play a part in tooth health, but I truly believe that our food and lifestyle choices play just as large a role. And if they have a cavity, I want them to know what it feels like. I know that sounds mean. But I’m not saying they need to get a hole drilled in their teeth with no pain meds, I just want them to be conscious of what is going on in their bodies, and to know that if they don’t properly care for their teeth, there are repercussions from that.
I don’t want our kids going to the dentist and staring like zombies at a screen while the dentist does his thing. I want them to know what he’s doing. I want them to have to sit there, UNentertained, maybe even bored a bit. Because it’s good for them. So many kids nowadays barely know how to sit through a boring church service or a funeral or wait in a fluorescent-lit waiting room for an hour. I can be guilty of that just as much as the next person. I’ve given my kids the iPad to keep them entertained while at doctor appointments before. But I really, truly, try to have them just have to sit sometimes, even when it makes no sense to them.
There we are, sitting in the car, waiting for daddy to get done with work. The iPad and iPhone sit, unused, in the front seat. Of course, the kids ask if they can play on them. And you know what I say? NO. And they whine and cajole and ask me why they can’t play, and I say, “Because it’s good for you to have to SIT sometimes without being entertained. Stare out the window. Watch the birds. Look at your dirty fingernails. I really don’t care. But just SIT. It’ll make your brain grow.“
It’s good for them. It makes their minds reach beyond the screen and actually imagine.
And that’s what my kids are gonna have to do at the dentist for the rest of their childhoods. Lay back in the seat, stare at the ceiling just like I did growing up, and twiddle their thumbs. Not on a joystick either. They are going to grow up and probably purposefully take their kids to a “kid dentist” because they were so deprived as children. But heck, at that point, I really won’t care, because those will be my grandkids, and I’ll just want to have fun with them.