Ebb & Flow

While it’s true that in life there are many ups and downs, I would say that especially rings true when you’re a parent. Parenthood is a volatile business. You can go from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs – sometimes all within the same day. Last weekend was a prime example of that.

Friday started off nicely enough. After days of cold weather and rain, Mother Nature finally threw us a bone and gave us sunshine and 80 degree temperatures that reminded us what summer could and would feel like. We spent the morning with a trip to the gym and afterwards hung out at the park for awhile. Everything was going smoothly until Olivia skipped her nap and I had to run to take AJR to his dentist appointment.

We were both apprehensive about the visit despite my best attempts to make it sound like a dentist visit was akin to a trip to Disney World. I’m not sure what happened along the way as he was a model patient on his first visit nearly two years ago. Since then, its been a series of tears and mishaps that had me wondering why I needed to bring him in the first place – aren’t those teeth going to fall out anyway?

His grievance this time around was that the dentist didn’t have any toothpaste he liked. Despite my attempts to assure him we could try a few flavors, he spent the entire car ride complaining about it. When it came time to climb into the dentist chair AJR froze. The hygienist and I finally coaxed him into the chair with the promise of a show on the ceiling TV. As she started leaning in to clean his teeth he proceeded to make this low “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” noise while sliding out of his chair to latch onto me like a baby sloth.

“You can lay on the chair and have him sit on your lap,” offered the sweetest hygienist in the world.

I began making an internal “eee” noise of my own as I realized that this was the only way we were going to extract any value from this dentist appointment. Did I mention I worked out for an hour and then proceeded to spend 90 minutes outside at the park?  Oh and that I didn’t have a chance to take a real shower as our plumbing was shut off while work was being done to our house? My best attempts at an Italian shower with the remaining 0.005 ounces of Ralph Lauren Romance perfume I found were not working. Mostly because new, nervous sweat from springing from my pores as I braced myself for what was to come.

Me, sliding onto the dentist chair: “Okay, that works. Here, buddy. You can sit on my lap.”

What occurred next is between me, AJR, the hygienist, God, and anyone that was within a two-mile radius of the dentist office. I have heard my son make a lot of noises, but never have I heard the guttural screams that exploded from his tiny body. You would have thought we were having an exorcism instead of a dental cleaning. THE POWER OF CREST COMPELS YOU! 

At one point the hygienist looks me in the eye and says “I’m going to need you to throw your legs around his body to keep him from alligator rolling away from me”.

Let me just say for a kid that eats the bare minimum protein and vegetables, he is fricking strong. I had to use all of my strength to put him in a leg lock for the 15 seconds it took to clean his teeth – WITHOUT any toothpaste mind you – and apply the fluoride treatment.

After the carnage, the dentist waltzed in calmly to count his teeth. Rather breezily she told me that next time we could bring our own toothpaste as many other kids do. I nodded and made some feeble apology for my son’s difficulties and the B.O. bomb I dropped in the tiny room.

Seriously, doc? Like maybe mention that on your website or something. I didn’t even know that was allowed.

From then on, the kids proceeded to be absolute nightmares. I thought the fresh air would have made everyone happy but AJR was pissed about his dentist appointment and Olivia had refused to nap, which automatically brings out her terrible twoness. Being outside did nothing to placate them. They threw sand at each other, whined, fought, and made me want to scream in frustration. Bedtime could not come soon enough.

Then Saturday happened and it was the type of day that filled me up with this peaceful contentment that just felt really really good. After the kids went to sleep I sat enjoying a glass of wine and musing about how perfect the day had seemed. I looked over at Joe and reached my hand out for him with my “look”. A “look” he knows all too well – misty eyes, closed lipped smile, and body language that clearly states “I am having lots of feelings and want to desperately talk about them while we cuddle”.

Joe, who is very much a feeler, too, responded with – “How much have you had to drink?”

For the record it was half a glass, but maybe I was viewing the day through rosé colored glasses. Olivia hadn’t napped, which always makes life interesting. AJR had whined throughout the majority of our ice cream outing that there were real strawberries in his Italian Ice even though he likes strawberries. Even with those things, which are so small in the grand scheme of it all, it was one of those days you go back to and remember when you’re having a day like I did on Friday. It was easy, it was fun, and it put me in a good mood.

The entire day I had all the feels all the time over all the things. Our little NJ town had their Opening Day Parade for baseball, softball, and t-ball and it was ahhh-dorable. Now, I am the first to admit I am not a parade fan. Parades are slow and usually require you to stake out a spot hours before the “action” even starts. Then add in inclement weather – usually too cold or too hot – and I’m left wondering why this is even a thing anymore. Saturday was an exception. Led by a trio of fire trucks our not-so-little boys and girls marched all the way down to the main baseball fields in town. People lined the sidewalks and waved and with the sunshine on my face and AJR’s hand in mine, parades didn’t seem all that bad.

AJR looked so incredibly grown up in his t-ball uniform that I almost couldn’t stand it. Since we found out we were having a boy I know that Joe had been waiting for the moment when they could start sharing something he loves so much. Although to be fair the brainwashing, I mean, sharing, has been going on long before this moment. However, this sort of served as the official launch into the big kids world of organized baseball. Well, semi-organized as it is t-ball and the players are all four and five years old.

During the opening ceremony it was a surreal experience. Both kids were exceptionally well-behaved and sat still for twenty minutes of mostly talking and no action. AJR was surrounded by buddies that he had known since they were three months old which had us all asking the question: where did the time go? My lip quivered as I watched the 8th graders in our town accept special awards for playing baseball/softball all eight years and I couldn’t help but envision that being AJR.

On our way back from the parade I happily pushed Olivia in the stroller and watched as Joe and AJR held hands during the walk to our car. I must have snapped a dozen photos of them together but part of me was sadly wondering if this was when the official shift from Mama’s boy to Dad’s buddy would occur.  Almost as if to reassure me, AJR stopped at every single dandelion he saw, gently picked it, and ran back to hand it to me. Each time he had the biggest smile on his face when I lit up with genuine joy at this token of his little boy affection. He may look grown-up in his t-ball shirt and cap, but he is still very much a mama’s boy. Phew. With my bouquet of weeds, I had completely forgotten that I held him in a WWE wrestling move the day before and cursed his very existence.

The rest of the day was an uneventful blur of sunny weather, ice cream, and playing in our backyard. We ended it with tired kid cuddles on the couch as they nibbled their pizza and we watched a show. I sat blissfully with AJR under one arm and Olivia under the other as I smelled their clean little heads and relaxed.

Life with small children is rarely, if ever, perfect. However, this felt like one of those moments where it got pretty darn close. And if need be, I would endure many hellish dentist appointments to have one more day like that. Just not anytime soon.





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