Turns out, this boy has soft teeth. Every checkup shows at least a few cavities. When he was four we scheduled him for day surgery to have our squeemish boy's teeth repair, since the mere thought of needles sent him into hysterics. The experience was okay, but not one either of us (my husband and I) were overly comfortable with. When the same situation confronted us a couple of years later, we declined and found a dentist who would perform the fillings awake in her office, with nitrous oxide. This experience, while slightly traumatic, was much smoother than the hospital one.
This weekend after a very painful toothache, I advised my oldest that I was taking him to the dentist. He was resistent, but I told him that since his two younger brothers have both had fillings with our dentist, that we were not making a special trip to a different dentist. That he was going to have to "take it like a man" so to speak, and walk in the same path we expect his brothers to. At nine years old, I figure it's time we stop catering to his fears.
Today was the big day. We were late, and as soon as we got there he was whisked away. My heart sank as I thought of him. He is more nervous than the rest of my kids, and I didn't even talk to him about it. I forgot to tell him to pray the Our Father, I thought, which is something that brings me comfort when I'm afraid (something my mother taught me). I started instead saying it to myself as we waited, the other kids oblivious to what I was certain was my oldest son's inner torment.
The dentist came to talk to me about ten minutes later, and advised that the tooth had absessed and needed to be pulled. I told him to go ahead and take it out, and asked how my little guy's nerves were holding up. "Fine," he assured me, with his gentle smile that has assured me all these many years since middle school, when my family began going to him. Not long after my boy came around the corner, mouth stuffed with cotton gauze and a big half smile. He did it!
On the way home he remarked several times that he didn't feel a thing, and that it wasn't nearly as bad as he thought. I asked him if he thought it made him a better person, and that sometimes doing something we think we can't do shows us how brave we are. He said he did, and that he knew God was near to him because he didn't feel anything.
I've often thought about how quick we are to anesthetize our children for things like this. It's so natural as a parent to want to preserve your child from pain, but we don't often consider the benefits of having a child walk through necessary pain, and teaching them how. Of course we never want our children to suffer, but we can't guarantee that they never will. Moreover, would we want to deny them the graces that come from the suffering the Lord permits for them?
I am so grateful for my growing children, and the small ways they are beginning to step out from under my wing, and take steps on a journey that is their own. I pray that the Lord will always be their guide, and that as their mother I will keep Him ever before my own face, so that I will be capable of steering them in the right direction.
|Onward, Christian soldier!|
“To suffer is to take the difficulty and to carry it with strength, so that the difficulty does not drag us down. To carry it with strength: this is a Christian virtue. Saint Paul says several times: Suffer [endure]. This means do not let ourselves be overcome by difficulties. This means that the Christian has the strength not to give up, to carry difficulties with strength. Carry them, but carry them with strength. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one has the urge to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we’ll do what we can but no more.’ But no, it is a grace to suffer." Pope Francis