The end of summer has meant an onslaught of appointments for Eddie and us. We intended to have all this messiness taken care of before school started, but of course that didn’t happen. Why do I think I have control over anything? Out of everything scheduled, the greatest medical endeavor was going to the dentist.
Eddie had been going to a pediatric dentist over the past year, that I’m pretty sure did absolutely nothing. Eddie wouldn’t simply lie down and open his mouth; so, they did a quick peek…tried to brush…and called it “good.” Recently, they admitted their shortcomings and referred us to another office that would use anesthesia, which Eddie had done before.
At the consultation, we decided that Eddie would be “put under” and they would get x-rays, clean his teeth, do a comprehensive exam, and then come find us in the lobby to decide how to proceed. The day of his appointment, Eddie’s dad and I waited with our checkbook in hand anticipating a grisly outcome.
Even though the monetary amount wasn’t catastrophic, his needs were. Eddie ended up having three filings, four teeth pulled (due to infections), and one other procedure having to do with his gums. You know that “failed parent” feeling you have when your child has a cavity? Multiply that by ten.
The good thing was that we were getting it taken care of, and we weren’t letting his dental needs fall through the cracks another day. We were hoping that alleviating his tooth pain may improve his mood, but that theory didn’t pan out. What did happen was that Eddie had a little communication breakthrough afterwards.
Throughout Eddie’s entire life he has never sought out another person simply to “share.” This may sound like a small thing, but imagine if you had an 8-year-old child who never once tried to show you anything for the sake of sharing. I’d bet some of you reading this can relate.
After the dentist, Eddie was sitting on the couch next to his Dad, James. Eddie was calm and resting; not agitated at all. He simply reached over and grabbed James’ hand, and put it in his mouth. He had him touch each place where there used to be a tooth. James said it felt like sincere communicating. Eddie wasn’t using him as a means to an end, but simply wanted to tell him something.
Even though I thought it was cool, I didn’t understand how cool until Eddie shared his gaping holes with me the next day. When he reached out and shared his dental wounds, it literally felt electric. It was a connection he had never made with me before. Eddie was saying, “Look, Mom!” I had literally waited years for that moment.
I’m not sure I can even convey the emotions that I felt with that simple interaction. As a parent of a blind child, I accept that we will never connect via eye contact. Because he also has autism, I’m always longing for any other kind of communication. I want some way of knowing that I’m more than just a fixture in his life; that he wants to tell me things…show me things…and experience life with me.
Thanks to a gruesome dental visit, Eddie did one thing we had wanted more than anything. He simply shared. I’ve had my hands in his mouth this week more than ever, because he is obsessed with showing us…but I don’t mind…because he simply shared.