So my 3-year-old had a cavity at his first visit to the dentist. It quickly became clear that he would not be able to have the cavity filled with out a little help, so another appointment was scheduled for him to be given a mild sedative along with nitrous oxide to calm him and allow the dentist to do his magic. I was a mess the night before. What if there were complications?
So we arrived, and in Alice in Wonderland style, he was given tiny little cups, “Drink Me”, I imagined they said, but they were just numbered 1 then 2. He drank them down no problem. And then we were led to a cozy little room with a couch and TV turned to a quiet level. The lights were dim. The assistant told me that he would start to become less active, and that I shouldn’t worry if he falls asleep, “that’s ok”, she assured me. One hour we were in there. One hour which I spent watching my son go from a bookshelf back to the couch that he was using for a trampoline, then back again to grab another book until he had emptied the bookshelf. I walked outside and asked if it was normal for the kids to get a little hyperactive before they get calm. And the answer was that no, that wasn’t usually the case. By the time the hour was up and the dentist was ready, my son was manic. In the dentist’s chair my boy picked bubble gum smell for his “nose” that the nitrous oxide came through. The dentist told me that my son was in the “10%” of children who had the opposite affect from the sedation medicine. The laughing gas made no difference. None. He bit the dentist’s finger and ripped off the bubble gum nose.
My first thought was that of course he was in the 10%. Of course he was. Unbelievable. The dentist told me that he would probably fall asleep when we got home, but that never happened either. He was bouncing around until he finally fell asleep at 8:30pm and he was up bright and early at 6am the next morning. My next thought was ADHD. They told me last year during some testing that he showed some “red flags” for a down the road ADHD diagnosis. I am so completely torn. One side of me believes he is just a little boy with a lot of energy. The other side knows that every night when we sit down for dinner we won’t be able to get him to just sit. Sometimes it seems like there is an invisible rope attached to him, pulling him out of his chair. I know my son has a particularly hard time waiting his turn. I know he has a difficult time getting his emotions in check, particularly his anger. I know he does not stop fidgeting or squirming even when we can get him to sit. I know he moves from one task to the next without completing the first. And I know that he has trouble paying attention. Even when I’m in his face talking, most of the time his mind is elsewhere. He’s a dreamer. A drifter. I know these are signs of ADHD, and that perhaps they may be onto something but I’m not there yet. I’ve seen him overcome too much to put him in any box at this point.
For now I choose to see it like this. At the dentist office my son made an awful mistake. You see, he is a superhero. He doesn’t know the extent of his potential and therefore he wasn’t aware that he was supposed to pretend the medicine worked. He was not supposed to show the outside world that he has super-human strength, resistance to our silly medicine, and endless energy regardless of our so-called “sleep”. When we are sleeping at night I’m convinced he practices flying around the house. Things just seem different in the morning.
Maybe all difficult children are superheroes in training; it’s just that they don’t know how to control their powers yet. Perhaps being in the 10% means that there are other heroes out there. Maybe my boy is a superhero. Or maybe I’m wrong. But I do know that more powerful than a locomotive, and faster than a speeding bullet, he came just when I needed him, and saved my life.