Friday, September 10, 2010

My Little Hidden Fear

A few weeks ago, I took my boys to the dentist. Actually, it’s more like an arcade with drills in the back, than an actual dentist. My boys love going there because of the amazing video games, a space ship that’s coming down from the ceiling and coolness everywhere. Even the kids I babysit yell with excitement when we take my boys to the dentist.

Of my 3 boys, my youngest isn’t as thrilled. He hates the dentist, just like he hates the haircut place, anything that involves putting noisy things close to his head he can’t tolerate. So when the time came for our youngest to head back for an examination, he let us all know that he wasn’t going in without a fight. So after much screaming and kicking, I picked up my boy and tried to walk him through the door to the dentist. Now he’s only 5, but he’s a strong little dude. Well my plan backfired and somehow I was tripped up by his kicking legs and BAM! I fell to the floor, flat on my face in the lobby.

I have to admit, I was hurt pretty bad and embarrassed just as much. I could hear the man behind me ask if I was ok, then tell the receptionist that he thought I was injured. I remember that I couldn’t even speak, since I knew that the only words that would come out were not kid friendly. So there I was, a mom with a bad limp, begging the staff if they had any other ideas on how to get my fired up, redhead son into the dentist chair.

After a lot of coaxing, he finally went in, but they were never able to do a cleaning, so I had to be happy with just x-rays and a report that he was cavity free. But this day brought back that little hidden fear I have that my youngest may have “issues” as he gets older. You see, my oldest who has a mood disorder didn’t show significant problems until he was 7 years old, but when he was younger, I do remember that I couldn’t brush his teeth without pinning him down, just like my youngest is today. And after the surprising looks from the dentist and the haircut place and hearing questions like “What’s wrong with him?” You feel that thought creep in... what if my little guy struggles too, what if this isn’t a phase but only a precursor of what’s to come?

It’s really too soon to tell, but my youngest has had night terrors like my oldest, he’s a very picky eater and he’s had a hard time conforming to authority which was seen last year at preschool when we had to have a parent/teacher conference on the first day of school. As the school year progressed, his teacher would say, (while moving her hand in a rolling wave motion) your son is just up and down during the day.

Now this all may be just a little boy imitating behaviors he’s seen in is older brother and like many other kids, has some childhood fears, but it’s hard to not wonder if he’ll be ok. I guess once you have a child with a mental illness, you tend to look at your other kids with a critical eye.

If you asked me today if I thought my little boy has a problem, I would say “No! Absolutely not!” But I have to be honest and admit to you that when I was on the floor in the dental office, the thought did cross my mind for just a second, then I picked myself up and looked at my little guy and thought... naahhh.

So can you relate, have you had these thoughts too?


  1. I can so relate, but kind of in a backwards way.

    My 7-year-old (the one that doesn't have BP) has a seizure disorder. He had dozens of seizures from 2-3 and then didn't have another grand mal until one year ago. I often wonder if my 9-year-old son has some seizure issues that would be causing (magnifying) his issues. It's so hard to say. I would say that even with kids with BP that symptoms manifest so differently. Two children may have rages, but only one be a mental illness, you know what I mean?

    I guess you will know when that invisible line is crossed between normal and abnormal. Perhaps he could talk with your other son's therapist and have the therapist get a feel for if it is imitating behavior or if it is an organic problem.

  2. You’re right about kids having rages but for different reasons. I think that’s what makes all this so complicated. The brain is a very interesting part of the body and I believe that science has only figured out just a small amount of what we have yet to learn.

    As for seeing our therapist for our youngest, we did have one visit with him because the therapist was concerned that out youngest was experiencing post traumatic stress disorder from living with his brother. After one meeting of watching him play with toys he determined that my little guy was delightful and gave us simple tips to work with him.

  3. I have a 16 month old that I am constantly wondering about-no signs yet but way too early-I have had those same fears as you. Even my middle child asks if our baby will be like her older sister. she says I don't think I can handle two sisters being mean to me all of the time. So sad! I hate how these diseases effect the atypical child. And I pray our youngest, yours and mine do not have to endure the hardships of being mentally ill.

  4. Oh that's so sad that your middle child even asks about your baby. My middle child asked once if his own children will have this illness, I thought that was a very deep question for a 7 year old. I think our kids are aware of so much more than we think.

  5. I can relate to this so much. My youngest son is very much the same way...we've had massive battles to get haircuts and he started to show other sensory issues about a year ago. While he seemed so "normal" as compared to his older brother, we finally had to come to the realization that he too has his issues. On the positive side: We got a diagnosis for him much earlier and are starting therapies at a younger age, which should help in the long run.

  6. Accidental Expert- I'm glad your experience has helped get an early diagnosis, you're right that this will help in the long run.