Listen, show up, or let go

Skylar had to go back to the dentist.  The 2nd time in less than a week and she wasn't too excited about it.

Last night I told her about today’s appointment – I explained what the dentist would do and why.  She asked if I would be with her and I said yes. She asked if I would hold her hand and I said of course.

We arrived for the appointment and I was immediately told I could not go with her - their policy is to have parents stay in the waiting room.

I nodded and said I understood the policy, but I already told my daughter I would stay with her.

The hygienist responded by saying that kids are calmer when the parents are not there. Again I nodded and said I’m sure in many situations they are right, but I had already told my daughter I would hold her hand.

She said I could walk back with her, but the dentist would probably ask me to leave.  I nodded and we walked back to the room.

I quietly sat on the floor and put my hand on Skylar’s stomach.  I didn’t speak or really even move.  I just stayed there as the team prepared to fill her cavity.

The dentist walked in, we smiled at each other, and he didn’t say a word - he sat down and started working.

I stayed on the floor, out of view as they worked.  Skylar cried a little bit and occasionally grabbed my hand.

This is not my first “floor” experience, I’ve been here many times before with my other daughters - sitting in a gymnastics class with one of them, sitting in a kindergarten room with another, being the only adult wading around a “child only” class, being the only parent who stays for the birthday party.

But now they are older.  They walk into a new classroom unassisted, they ride their bikes to practice by themselves, they head into a dentist or doctor appointment with confidence, they go up to their room with their friends and politely let me know they don’t need me around.

They were once scared, but now they aren’t.  Part of that is growth and maturity.  But part of it was having their hand held or having someone there for them. They have integrated a sense of security through knowing what it feels like to be secure.

After 20 minutes the dentist and hygienist are done.  I look up at both of them from the floor and say thank you.  I thank them for listening and accommodating our needs.

These are not always easy experiences for me, and I know there is a balance to all of this.  It’s not always clear when I should stay or when I should go.

But my best solution is to listen.  To hear my children when they say they are scared, to trust my girls when they say they need support, and most important, to show up when I say I will be there.

When we get home from the appointment Skylar is feeling good and she wants to play with her friend down the street.  I ask her if she wants me to walk her down.  She says no, she will go herself.

I listen, and watch her walk down the street.

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