Monday, August 11, 2008

"Hey! We're not ladies... we're triplets!"

So we survived the girls' first trip to the dentist, and although I'd dreaded it for weeks, we came out virtually unscathed. No PRE-appointment waiting room histrionics, no dental chair melt-downs, and perhaps most importantly... NO CAVITIES! Which, when you consider that the older three had cavity-free visits last month, this adds up to six cavity-free mouths and one very happy mom. (I suppose it's another "you know you have a lot of kids when..." that we weren't able to schedule all my kids' dental visits in one trip.)

I'm sure we were helped by the fact that we go to a pediatric dentist who is as fabulous as he is patient, and that the office is well-equipped for little ones. But I love this office most for their ingenious policy of taking the child back to the exam room for cleaning and x-rays and exams WITHOUT the presence of their parent. Even when they're just three years old. Seriously. A nice hygienist calls out your child's name, and gently whisks him/her away by the hand, assuring that they'll come get you if they encounter any problems but that kids do best without the moms right there. (Code for: moms hover and it makes the kids nervous and we want you to just back off!) The Mama Bear in me was nervous about this policy at first (do they do this for everyone, or just me? How did they know that I'm a hover-er?), but it went so smoothly for Tanner's first appointment last year (and again last month), that I came to see the wisdom of this policy. And I won't lie: that kid-free hour was the most peaceful I'd had in weeks.

So I was experienced with office policy and was bracing myself for the girls to melt down when somebody came to get them, but, shockingly, they allowed themselves to be led away. This alone was a miracle because, frankly, it could have gone either way. You see, it's a gang mentality thing: if one triplet decides that it's okay and that she's willing to go along (usually Sydney), then the others follow suit. But if one triplet (usually Riley) decides that she's not okay with what's about to happen and freaks out, then they ALL start to freak out and there's no hope for turning the situation around. It's an all-or-nothing endeavor.

Fortunately, it went our way. The girls were taken deep into the bowels of the dental office (which must be sound-proof because I could hear nothing) and I sat there, agape, and a little unsure of what to do with myself. No kids? Really? Tanner was at a friend's and the big two were at piano and I was... utterly alone. Lucky for me (?) I had a mountain of "patient's first appointment" paperwork to fill out (in triplicate), so I took my sweet time. One of the questions amused me: "In one sentence or three adjectives, describe your child's personality." Piece of cake. Sydney: adventurous, thoughtful, caring. Riley: introverted, sweet, sensitive. Bailey: feisty, temperamental, charming.

I was musing over this when one of the receptionists came into the waiting room. "Are you the mother of the triplets?" Gulp. "That depends," I joked. "Is somebody throwing a tantrum?" "No, no," she gushed. "They are just adorable. We are getting such a kick out of them! In fact, the doctor wanted me to come tell you what just happened!" Gulp again.

Apparently the girls were set up together like an assembly line on three side-by-side dental chairs in their matching little outfits and hairbows and shoes (a ploy to make them seem as sweet as they look), when the good dentist walked by and said, "Hello, ladies!" He was answered by an indignant Bailey who replied with hand on hip, "Hey! We're not ladies! We're triplets!"

Truer words were never spoken.

And the funny thing was that if I'd finished filling out my paperwork in time, they wouldn't have had to describe which triplet it was (shortest, round face, blondish hair) in order to know that Bailey was the culprit. Because it was written right there on the paperwork: Feisty. Temperamental. (Don't you dare call her a lady!) But charming. She had the entire office in stitches.

And, just when I thought we could make our escape without a single incident... they gave the girls balloons and goody bags. UGH! (I've posted this before, but I'll repeat myself again: goody bags are the bane of my existence! Followed closely by balloons. I appreciate the thought, but, UGH! The kids fight over whose bag is whose before I can write names on them and somebody inevitably has something that is different and therefore better than the other people have, and somebody has the wrong color of toothbrush when their favorite color is in fact green, and somebody is missing their tin of dental floss, and somebody spills their ACT fluoride rinse mini all over the carpet of the waiting room, and... you get the picture.) I'm pretty sure that goody bags were invented for only children.

Things fell rapidly apart from there. In the three minutes it took from receipt of goody bags and balloons to the office exit, I was pretty sure that our "adorable" facade was blown to bits. Such howling had never been heard there before. Even in the dental chair. I left the office with one girl on each hip, one by the wrist (getting knocked in the face by the diaper bag), and all four of us hopelessly tangled up in balloon strings. Again, Ugh! Balloons.

But we made it, and with the exception of those last few minutes, the experience was relaxing and pleasant. (How often can you say that about a dental visit?) Yet one thing is for certain: our entire pediatric dental office now knows that my girls are triplets. And definitely not ladies.