Look for the helpers

In the days following the Sandy Hook tragedy a friend and fellow pediatric dentist, the wonderful Dr. Caroline Derrow, posted a great quote by Mr. Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” That quote resonated with me and spent quite a few days rolling around in my head as I worked through what it meant to me and what that meant to my family. This quote provided me comfort at a time when our hearts needed healing because I saw them, the helpers. I made a concerted effort to look for them and what I found was that they were there. I am a grown adult (or so the numbers indicate) and I still needed a reminder that the helpers are there and always have been. Almost two years later and I still haven’t stopped thinking about the helpers. Growing Grins Pediatric Dentistry has become such a large part of me and I feel I need to apply this philosophy to my dental practice.

At a regular dental visit we get to talk with your children, make them laugh, let them look at the sparkles that we polished on their teeth, make silly faces when they are taking their x-rays and give them a fun dental experience to set them up for future positive visits at the dentist. They know that we are who keep their teeth growing and grinning. But have I done enough that beyond these office walls they know that I’m willing to be their helper and advocate?

In light of recent events that seem to be more and more frequent I wanted to reach out to you, the parents of my patients, to reinforce our unspoken agreement that I am a helper.

I am your child’s helper…..

I see so many of my patients throughout the week out and about in the community. I’ve seen them at my children’s daycare, I’ve seen them at the park, I’ve seen them in the candy store (where I was completely caught red-handed buying cotton candy, EEKS!!). They usually smile and whisper to their parent, “There’s my dentist” and point to where I’m standing. Almost like they’re saying, “Mom, there’s my dentist. Why did they let her out of the office?” It probably feels very similar to when I was younger and I would see one of my teachers outside of school (I know you feel the same way, its CRAZY to see a teacher out in real life!). I want you to feel comfortable as their parent to reinforce the idea that if you child wants to come up and say hi I welcome that. Don’t worry if my own kids are running around in circles around me, its ok, I’m not too busy to let your child know that, “Yes, I see you and I think it’s special you said hi.” I want your child to know that if they need something or are in trouble and I am around I will be their helper. We are inundated with images of scary things that it is impossible to shield our children from them all. I so passionately believe what we can do is make sure that we are highlighting the good in our world and making a point to create a strong community of people around our children. We need to bring back the village!

I am your helper and you are mine…..

I confidently can say that I am well qualified to answer any question that you may have about your children’s oral health. We can have discussions outlining multiple different approaches to many issues that come up during the growth and development of your child’s oral cavity. But sometimes it’s the moments where I’m reviewing your child’s medical history and I pause to ask about a specific diagnosis or testing that your child is having, I see it in your eyes, I see the uncertainty and the fear. If you look at my eyes what you will see is, “I get it girl, I’ve been there, too”. I have a three year old and an almost two year old and what I know for sure is that sometimes I don’t know what happens next or what the ‘right’ step is for my children. When that happens I obviously call my friends who have been there, done that and I have a little freak-out and they tell me I’m good and then its fine. Sometimes that feeling comes up when you’re here, I see it. Ask me the questions that I see forming on the tip of your tongue but quickly get swallowed. Providing comprehensive care for your children also comes in the form of being compassionate and thoughtful with you, their parent. Even if we just have a short discussion of what is on your mind and it is completely unrelated to dental I do not believe that my ear has to be educated to be kind. I put this out there because selfishly you have all been my helpers for a very long time. I talk about my children all the time at the office, its hard not too. I have no world without them. And those moments I was talking about with a question on the tip of your tongue, sometimes they happen to me too, here, at work. I forever grateful to those parents who let me use their kind ear. I can honestly say that I’ve have parents whom seen me tear up (in all honesty though, after I have had children isn’t a shocking occurrence). But at that time, I felt my village for myself and in turn my children got a little bit bigger and full of helpers.

So if your kids see me out of the office (most likely at Union Bakery, Target, or Chipotle) it’s cool if they want to say hi.

“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”

Steve Jobs

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