Archive for the ‘Potty training’ Tag
I was already feeling like a failed parent. It was my toddler’s third birthday and he had been telling me for weeks that he wanted a Buzz Lightyear birthday cake. I had it all planned out. Bought the ingredients, the food coloring, mapped out the rocketship I would use as a template. I blocked out a two-hour time slot on the big day for making it. I had it covered. But while we were at the zoo that afternoon, I noticed that my five-year old’s right eye was blood-shot and had a slight bulge near the iris. I immediately called the pediatrician, and the only appointment available was during my two-hour allottment for cake-baking. What could I do? We went straight from the zoo to the doctor’s appointment, where we were given antibiotic drops. Problem solved. But by the time I was loading my kids back into the car, the cake was doomed. I had to call my husband with an S.O.S.: please pick up a birthday cake at the grocery store. He performed his act of heroism, but unfortunately the closest thing they had to Buzz Lightyear was Pokeman. When my little guy saw his birthday cake he burst into tears. And I cried, too. So I was already feeling terrible.
And then, after the candles and the presents, as I was brushing the chocolate crumbs from his teeth, I found something that made me feel infinitely worse. A giant hole in one of his bottom molars. Perfectly round and cavernous. A sinkhole.
How could I let this happen?
It all stems back to potty training. Anyone with a toddler knows how exasperating and just plain smelly and gross potty training can be. I’ve been lucky. My second and third children both decided at the age of two that they were too big for diapers. Overnight they were running around in cartoon-covered underwear. My oldest was more reluctant. At three and a half he preferred the relative ease of the diaper. He didn’t have to stop playing trains to take a trip to the bathroom. So I bought him his favorite train, Gordon, and hid it up in the closet. Hunter could play with Gordon every time he had a successful stop at the toilette. It worked like a charm. But Pierce, my youngest, wasn’t interested in potty training. And he isn’t obsessed with trains. He’s obsessed with candy. How do I know this? When he learned his colors, he learned them by dum dum flavors. Red is strawberry, purple is grape, and pink is cotton candy. The logical thing to give him to interest him in potty training was treats.
I know. Completely stupid. But not without precident. As evidence, The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training, page 57:
Small treats can be an effective way to demonstrate to your child in concrete ways that she has done well and should be pleased with her own behavior.
Small treats, however, do probably not include golfball-size gumballs. Which I had a whole box of in my closet. (Don’t ask. They are now at a landfill.)
So it was the gumballs that did it. And I had administered them. I felt terrible. I hoped that the pediatric dentist would give me a slight reprieve from my huge case of bad-parenting guilt. I hoped he would tell me that Pierce had bad teeth, bad enamel, maybe even no enamel at all. But no, he just listened to my mortifying story of gumballs and nodded knowingly. “That could have done it,” he said. Even worse, he showed me an x-ray of Pierce’s teeth and pointed out where he was missing two permanent teeth. WHAT?
But at least he fixed the sinkhole. I won’t go into the details of the pulpectomy, but in place of the giant hole Pierce now has a silver “pirate tooth” which he shows to everyone he meets. I am so glad he loves his pirate tooth. I am so happy that he wants to introduce it to all of his friends and many, many strangers. And I am thrilled to brush that knob of metal every day and remember how I failed as a parent.