Occasionally I can't control myself. Every once in a while I have a horrible instance where I am standing outside of my own body watching the words come out of my mouth, regretting every one and wishing I could stop them.
Two weeks after her oral surgery, I am at the orthodontist with Eve, watching her anxiety level ratchet up like a car on a roller coaster heading for the tallest peak. Her cheeks redden, her eyes twitch from side to side and widen, the tears build inside her lower eyelids. At the same time I am becoming more and more embarrassed, knowing that at any moment she will reach for me and pull herself out of the chair, burying her face in my stomach and letting the sobs fly. I am paralyzed, feeling powerless, knowing that we've been here before time and time again. She is afraid of having the bands sized on her back molars. She hates the way the metal feels scraping against her teeth, hates the feeling of the too-tight bands and the too-loose ones pushing against her soft gums. Two years ago we made three successive appointments, each one attempting to get to this point and watching her fall apart more quickly each time. We decided to wait for her to get a bit older and hope that it would make a difference.
Here we are with the worst part (arguably) behind us. She's had the anesthesia, she's suffered through the pain and stitches and eating soft foods for ten days. We have to get past this point and Eve just can't do it. She's holding up the well-oiled machine that is this orthodontist's office by sobbing and refusing to let them do their job. The young man in the chair next to her opens his mouth and offers to let her see the bands around his back teeth but she's not buying it. She buries her head deeper. I am mortified. She's making such a scene! Lola is hungry and she jumps off her stool and grabs my free hand to whimper into as well.
Out in the parking lot I let fly. I know I should be the one who is comforting her, acknowledging her fears, rational or not, and helping her find a way past this. Instead, I am angry.
"We just spent a ton of money having those teeth removed!" (That's not the point at all. Why am I saying this?)
"You can't do this this time. You have to find a way to get into that chair and let them put the bands on. I had braces three times. I didn't die - it's not horrible!" (Not helping, Mom.)
"Why don't you trust me? Have I ever taken you to a place where you would be hurt? It's my job to keep you safe. I am not going to put you into a situation where you will get hurt. Why can't you trust me?" (Why am I making this about me?)
She is buckled in to her car seat, sobbing. Gulping huge gasps of air, tears rolling down her cheeks and dripping into her lap. She is frightened, embarrassed, frustrated. I am yelling at her. With every word that comes out of my mouth part of me is recoiling in disgust. Why am I so angry? Why am I embarrassed at her behavior? Why does this bother me so much?
I don't know. My instinct is to have Bubba take her from now on. I can't be rational about this. I can't find a way to get her past this and I can't remain dispassionate about it. By the time we get home she is calm and I am deep in shame and regret. I sit with her on the couch and hug her and tell her over and over again that I love her. It isn't enough to make up for the way I rubbed salt in her wounds today and I am afraid that this is one of those horrible moments from her childhood that she will always remember.
Tomorrow I will do better. I hope.