Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Guilt Button

How many of you parents have a very active guilt button? I do. I always worry about the choices I make for my boys. If I choose to ignore a behavior and it gets worse, is he going to end up in jail? If I ignore a tummy ache and it's really appendicitis, will it rupture and cause massive infection or death? If I take the training wheels off too soon and he falls, will he break every bone in his body? You know, the "normal" parent concerns.

A few days ago, my 5 year old told me his mouth hurt, I assumed (never assume!) that it was a molar coming in because I vaguely remembered the dentist commenting at last checkup about his molar coming in early. I put topical pain medicine on it. This went on for several days. Then he woke me up every hour night before last. I got irritated, thinking he was being a drama king. (Guilt button activated in 10,9,8, ...) I phoned the dentist the next morning, swearing to my child if he was faking he would be minus several dozen toys. (Guilt button countdown continues 7, 6, 5...) I took him into the dentist, driving about an hour to get there, with three fighting boys, almost hitting a deer. I reminded him he better not be faking. (Guilt button countdown 4, 3....) We arrive at the dentist office, the boys go back to play video games (we have a really cool dentist). Then the assistant comes out to get me. I walk back and hear the dentist mutter under his breath "we have a real problem here". Oh, shit. He looks at me and smiles, says "No wonder his tooth hurt, he has a broken molar." (guilt button countdown 2, 1.....WARNING WARNING! MASSIVE GUILT ATTACK!) No infection shows up on the xray. This is good. Filling or pulpotomy (baby root canal) and crown. (Pony? Dog? Anything you want, sweetie.) It ends up being a pulpotomy and crown and massive infection in the tooth. Prescribed two rounds of antibiotics.

My baby cried all the way home, all through the drugstore, and the old guilt button was pinging like crazy. If he'd asked for the dog, rabbit, cat, bird, fish tank, gerbil, guinea pig, etc. that he's asked for time again, he'd have gotten it. Good thing he didn't know that!

I know many parents who've done similar things, but it never makes it feel any better when I'm the one who did it. So, do I vow to never doubt my child when he tells me he's in pain, do I bubble wrap him and refuse to let him play with other children? No, I'll do what every other parent does. I'll keep doing what I can to protect him and try not to screw up. (Guilt button reset.)