The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

What My Eight Year Old Taught Me About Bravery

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on January 4, 2011

I had to go to the dentist today.  While I love my dentist, I hate the dentist, if you know what I mean.  I know nobody loves going, but I am particularly phobic.

A few years ago I figured something out about myself:  I have a high pain tolerance, but a low fear tolerance.

I quiver.  I shake.  I talk way too much.  I sweat.

Dr Nguyen takes all of this in stride.  He is kind, compassionate, and totally trustworthy.  Plus I’m a creature of habit and we’ve been together enough years now that I know the drill (ha ha ha!) when it comes to having him do my dental work.

When I first started seeing him, I would show up to my dentist visits literally (really!) clutching a security blanket, which I’d use as a warming drape to try not to tremble during treatment.  (In addition to fear, I’m also very sensitive to local anesthesia; it gives me an adrenaline-like shaking, plus makes me have to pee every five minutes.  If it’s as annoying for Dr Nguyen as it is for me, he has been kind enough to not say anything.)

I’m to the point where I don’t need the security blankie anymore.  I still do chatter way too much, but other than that, you could almost mistake me for a regular run of the mill dental patient, not some crazy dentalphobe.

Today was just a routine check-up and cleaning.  He hired a new hygienist and she is quite the perfectionist, and it was taking AGES.  Every time I started to feel anxiety, I’d remind myself:  Eva (age EIGHT!) has been through WAY (way!!!) worse than this with her orthodontia, and she never complains, ever.  She just does it.  How?  I don’t know.  She’s not particularly brave….not more so than your typical eight year old girl.  She just sucks it up and wades in with both feet.

And as I sat there, trying to answer those abstract questions they always tend to ask you the moment you get a bunch of tools and paste and hands in your mouth, listening to Maroon 5 and Hey, Soul Sister! and whatever else they always play at the dentist office, I realized:  I can be at least as brave as my eight year old, and I am a better 41 year old for it.  Knowing Eva, being in her orbit, makes me a better person.  What a gift.

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