We're taking Lily to her very first dentist appointment this afternoon.
The fact that she's almost five years old and has never been to the dentist may be appalling to some of you. I invite those of you who feel that way to take her yourself anytime you like! I think you'll quickly understand why I've put this off as long as I have.
First, the good news.
We're going to Rising Stars Pediatric Dentistry, a full service dental clinic designed just for special needs children and those kiddos with an extreme fear of the dentist. I picked up their card last October at the Autism Speaks Walk for Autism.
Which lets you know that I've been putting this off for almost a year now.
Now, the bad news.
I'm a nervous wreck.
By the time 1:30 rolls around, I'll probably need the laughing gas more than Lily does.
Which brings up the ever present dilemma in life with a special needs child: I cannot control Lily's behavior.
Parents with typical kiddos might be thinking they can't control their child's behavior either.
But here's the difference: You can talk to a typical child, knowing they understand you perfectly well. You can establish clear boundaries with consequences and then follow through on your "discipline plan" knowing that your child understood the rules and simply disobeyed.
When Ryley and Reagan were little, we had something called an "If...Then Chart" hanging in the kitchen that looked a little something like this:
It's put out by a wonderful homeschool company called Doorposts.
This chart lists every single bad behavior known to man on the left side, also known as the "If's". In the middle, there's a Bible verse addressing the particular behavior. And on the right hand side are the "Then's", the consequences for the behavior.
Here's a little closer view:
Here's how it worked: Say that Ryley was mad at Reagan so she hit her. All I had to do was walk over to my handy dandy chart and show Ryley the consequence for hitting her sister. Then I would administer the consequence.
We used this for years because it was a very effective tool for Ryley and Reagan.
Then along comes Lily Bird.
If I hung this chart in my kitchen today, it would be purely for the sake of decor.
I cannot give Lily the "mad mom look" and expect her to quiet down and obey. I can't explain the discipline plan to her. I can't lean down and whisper in her ear that she better quit stomping her feet and hitting her head or else she will go to time-out. It just doesn't work like that.
Today, I can't explain to Lily about going to the dentist and everything that means. I can't take her to watch while I'm getting my teeth cleaned so she can see that it's no big deal. I can't tell her if she's a good girl, we'll go get ice cream afterwards.
All I can do is immediately respond to the situation at hand.
For example, I can tell her if she keeps turning the volume up on her iPad during a volleyball game that I will take the iPad away for a minute. I can tell her if she eats the Play-doh, we have to put it up.
See the difference? I can't do much to prevent something. Most of what I can do is respond to something that has already happened.
Today, I would love to be able to control Lily's behavior. To prevent some of the negative things I'm anticipating happening.
And this afternoon, I know I won't be able to.
Where's that laughing gas???