Yesterday I took my 3 and 1/2 year old to the dentist for the first time.
Let's just say Dread with a capital D. I had NO idea what to expect from her - tears? Whining? Complaining? Tantrums? Fits? Fleeing from the chair?
But we had to do it, and it wouldn't be any easier waiting another 6 months. So I made the appointment, armed myself with a mental supply of bribes at the ready, and went. I talked it up to her in the days before, explaining they would use a noisy toothbrush and nothing hurt, it wasn't like the doctor, and that we had to brush our teeth regularly and go to the dentist regularly so we wouldn't get cavities. A few times she said she wanted to go, a few times she said she didn't. And I really didn't know what to expect because this was a dentist I'd never even used. I had to switch us from my older dentist to this one because he's near retirement and won't take child patients anymore (smart man, haha) and I decided it'd be better for us to all go to the same place.
So again - I was clueless, and sweating. I'd only heard horror stories from other moms about first dentist trips, and how yet other moms put off appointments until their child was 5 or 6 years old to avoid freak-outs. I figured we'd soldier through and go home and nap/recover (i.e. mommy stuff face with comforting chocolate)
And you know what? She was a rockstar. She sat patiently in the waiting room, never complained or got nervous, and when they called her name, she immediately hopped up and approached the assistant and didn't even ask for me to carry her. We got to the little exam room and she sat in the chair, then hesitated and asked to sit in my lap. The assistant said that was just fine, so I sat in the chair and she laid on top of me as we reclined.
The dentist was AWESOME - explained each thing she did or used before she did it, had a fun nickname for all the equipment (the bright light above was Mr. Sunshine, the air-sucker-thingie was Mr. Thirsty, etc.) and Little Miss LOVED her. She opened her mouth wide every time she was asked, spit into Mr. Thirsty, and never complained, cried, protested, or turned her head away - and they did the cleaning, flossing AND painted on some flouride.
I almost cried.
I was soooo proud. So were they. She got to pick three toys from the toy box and left toting a little bag containing Disney princes floss sticks, big kid toothpaste and a brand new pink Little Mermaid toothbrush. She was ecstatic. And so was I. I didn't even need chocolate! (which is good since my exam is coming up at the end of the month)
I say all that one, to brag, because my kid totally rocks and that's all the grace of God! And secondly, to tie in to an example. Sometimes, things we dread really aren't that bad, and that's true in our writing life as well.
How many times have we dreaded finishing a manuscript, feeling that maybe the end wouldn't be as fun as the beginning? (yet it was!) How many times have we dreaded entering a contest, afraid of the feedback from judges? (yet found it to be eye-opening and helpful?) How many times have we dreaded submitting our proposal to an agent or editor, certain we'd be scarred for life from the rejection? (yet found their feedback to be just what we needed to propel our writing to the next level?) How many times have we dreaded branching out as reserved writers and being social at a conference or writer's retreat? (and walked away after with a ton of new friends and a closer relationship with God and newfound inspiration for our stories?)
Sometimes, we just have to make the appointment and go. Even if we're scared we have a cavity (even if we're afraid our book sucks), even if we're worried about causing a scene in a public place (or stepping outside our comfortable safety box in front of our computer), even if we're afraid of something hurting or making us uneasy.
Because without taking that step, without taking control and as Nike says "just doing it", we could miss out on a really, REALLY awesome Disney toothbrush.
(or, say, a contract ::wink::)