Shortly after New Years Harvey started complaining that his tooth hurt. I gave him two days to make sure it wasn't just a canker-sore, but when it still hurt him after the weekend (so badly that he didn't even finish dessert!!!) I scheduled a visit for the dentist. And because our local Mass-Health-accepting dentist is kind of rude with kids (no prize bucket, seriously?) I told Harvey I would buy him a lego for his trouble.
What kind of a lego? he immediately started asking. Would it be a guy AND a vehicle? Or just, like, a guy? How big of a box are we talking?
"Tell you what," I said, acting all homeschool-y. "I'll give you ten dollars and you can pick our your own lego."
This, I thought, would be a good way to teach him the value of a dollar.
"I'll need you to sew me a wallet then," he said. "So I have somewhere to put my money until we get to the store."
This boy. Weaseling his way into a custom-made present in addition to a plastic toy. Be still my sewing heart.
Since the receptionist on the phone was encouraging, I thought we would make a quick trip to the dentist, get a filling, and round out the day with a new lego in the $7.50 range. To my horror, however, the dentist took one look in Harvey's mouth and started filling out an appointment referral card.
"I'm giving you the number of an oral surgeon," she said. "When there's so much work to do and so many teeth affected, they usually put kids under general anestesia, and we don't do that here."
Okay, hold the phone.
"When the cavity has broken through the top of the tooth," she said "it's already pretty bad. I don't know whether the nerve is affected, or whether there are cavities between the two teeth. And the molar on the other side also has gray spots..."
I drove home in a bit of a parenting fog. What had I dont wrong? How could I have let my kid's teeth rot away to nothing?
Harvey, however, was unfazed. "Can I have my ten dollars now?" he asked.
Well, of course, yes, you can put it in your wallet.
Two days later we packed ourselves into the car for the pediatric oral surgeon. Harvey had yet to have something painful done to him, so he was practically giddy. "I think you should bring your wallet so I can have my ten dollars when we get there!" he exclaimed.
If you're keeping a running total of the bribes, that's $20 and we're still only in the consultation phase.
The new dentist looked in Harvey's mouth for about 30 seconds before pronouncing his verdict.
"I see at least 8 cavities in the back two teeth. I'll need to take x-rays, fill all the cavities, and put a cap on each tooth. Typically for a child his age we do this under anesthesia. I'm going on a trip in April, an I wonder if we could get him in before I leave..."
Before April? But my child can't eat carrots! Isn't there anything you could do for him sooner?
"Well, we could try doing the work with laughing-gas. It'd be a little at a time. Over multiple visits."
That's okay. At $10 a pop I think Harvey would be JUST FINE with multiple visits.
So that's where we are, going for our first round of dental work on Thursday in the hopes that Harvey's newfound love of money will keep him from freaking out when a dental drill enters his mouth. We'll see how it goes, while filling our O.R. forms in the background and crossing our fingers regarding insurance.
Meanwhile, Harvey went to the toy store today for his first foray into financial independence. He chose a small lego set featuring a bank robber running from a police motorcycle. And if that's wasn't symbolic enough, he explained his choice thusly:
"This way I'll even have lego money!"