She was standing in the parking lot of the dental office naked from the waist up, crying.
The wind was blowing cold all around us, and it was snowing.
She had just vomited in the car.
That's right, vomited. All over herself and everything within (pardon me) spitting distance — all from fear of the dentist.
Fifteen minutes earlier we had left a local pizza establishment with a happy, chatty little girl filled to the brim with a deep dish pepperoni and spinach pie.
Perhaps I was a little too heady from a successful trip to the pediatrician earlier in the day. A little too giddy over the girl taking to heart the instructions for drinking more milk ... "You know you can have milk with your cookies," her doctor suggested. … "Everything in moderation."
Perhaps the heavy meal right before the most-agonized over appointment in her whole little life — the dentist — was just too much.
I couldn't believe how fortunate it was that his job ended early and he was able to meet us for the second half of our medical professionals day.
"Whatever made me think I could do this alone," I grumble to myself as my husband wrapped our daughter in his new Thinsulate coat and handed her over to me.
"I'll get The Champ," he says, happy to be handling the boy, who, even with a poopy diaper, smells like flowers compared to the hot, steamy mess of a girl he was handing off to me.
A wave of nausea came over me as I hoofed it toward the warmth of the office. The reality of parenthood was hitting me in the face like a soggy sock.
It was almost the same revelation I had the first time I found a tick on my cute and fuzzy puppy. "Um ... Why did I ever decide to get a dog? This is pretty gross."
But there I was, dragging a crying, stress vomity kid into the swinging doors of a pediatric dental clinic — thinking only about the return visits we'd be making thanks to two cavities and a lifetime of hygiene — and wishing I were the auntie ... not the mommy.
I further occurred to me, as I was searching The Champ's diaper bag for the Ittybit-sized clothes I never packed, that it was entirely possible I had erred on the side of over-preparation, and brought this scourge upon myself.
All those books I read to her about what to expect; all the times I helped her practice opening wide by counting and flossing her teeth; even having her sit in as I got my own teeth cleaned. ... They all converged into one understanding that would haunt me and possibly her forever: "This dentist thing is gonna be BAD!"
Once inside the play-land-like atmosphere she ignored the video games and playhouse and wrapped her skinny little legs tightly around me, sat in my lap and demanded I read to her.
Every book in the place was about going to the dentist. We plowed through one book and she asked for another and another until the hygienist came out and called her name.
The woman led us back through the bright and colorful office into a small room in the back.
There was a television screen hovering overhead playing some delightful little cartoon where a rabbit couldn't get to sleep without his rubber elephant.
It really made me wish my dentist would replace the hot air balloon poster above his chair for a little flat screen wonder.
But I digress.
In a few minutes the dentist arrived with a high five and a surprise: stickers to whet the appetite and the promise of more surprises if she’d cooperate.
In no time she was painlessly examined, discussing verboten foods and she even let the hygienist demonstrate proper flossing techniques. By the time we left she was happy and chatty again, and almost looking forward to the next appointment.
Almost, but not quite.
"OK. Mom! So! If the first doctor said I CAN have milk with cookies, and the second doctor said I CAN'T have lollipops ... maybe I should just go to that first doctor. Would that be good?"