“Can you open your mouth like a big girl?” She asked. The hygienist couldn’t have been any nicer, but she was up against a rebel.
She had even put sunglasses on her so that the light above her head wouldn’t hurt her eyes.
“I just need to count all of your teeth.”
I watched as she clamped her lips tighter together and shook her head no.
“You have to let her help you,” I said, thinking I could convince her.
This was the first time I had taken my youngest daughter to the dentist for an exam and cleaning, and her two-year-old plus self wanted nothing to do with it.
Between this lady and me, we went around and around with her for thirty minutes. Her mouth stayed slammed shut. Finally, she said,
“I don’t think she is going to cooperate. You will have to reschedule. I have another client coming, and we need this exam room.”
This little girl had just pushed my patience farther than anyone had ever. Her sister always complied, and I had never seen this brick wall behavior before.
I was trying not to say a word even though I could not believe that a preschooler was running the show. I expected her to act better than that.
The minute we got outside of the suite and into an empty hallway, she threw the nuclear bomb.
“That was easy,” she said with a slight smile.
If she had stayed quiet or said she was scared, that would have been a different story.
I could not believe she so casually said that. Where had she possibly gotten such a stubborn nature from? The apple hadn’t fallen that far from the tree, but I didn’t recognize it then.
I could not contain myself any longer. In a yell whisper, I said,
“You will never do that again. When someone asks you to do something, you will do it.”
I saw that what I was saying wasn’t sinking in, so I added,
“I’m skipping the toy store. I was going to take you there after this, but you didn’t let her look at your teeth.”
That struck a nerve. I started walking toward the exit.
“I will go back in! Please!”
“It’s too late. They have other people coming now.”
She was in anguish all the way home. I was hoping she was learning something, but it was hard to tell with this one.
The following week when we returned, she did everything that was asked of her, and I then took her to Toys R Us.
For years, it was a reward for her following upsetting times like when she had to go to the doctor for immunizations. And it held happy memories like when she had been given money to spend. Even though other stores had the same products, the glistening aisles, and the giraffe meant the world to her.
When they announced their bankruptcy and possible closure, she followed every scrap of information to see if there would be a last minute rescue operation.
On the day that the founder and original owner died, the company made it public that they were going out of business for good. It was reported that the people who had taken it over had run it directly into the ground, and there wouldn’t be any saving it.
As the emptying of the building progressed, everything was on sale. One night we went to see what was left. Light fixtures and shelving were everywhere, waiting to be purchased. What had held such great memories for her looked empty and lonely.
As we were leaving, she saw a shopping cart.
“I want that,” she said.
“It’s from here.” It was a way to hang on to something from her childhood.
We found an employee, and $35 later, she was the proud owner of the big blue cart.
I opened the back of my car and flipped both seats down. Neither one of us had any clue how we were going to fit it in. We tried shoving it in one way, and it got stuck. For sure, we reasoned, if we jam it in the other way, it will slide right in. It was not working no matter what we did. At one point, I went into the store to see if they had any tools. I was going to try and take it apart.
“We don’t have tools. We sold them.”
I went back to the car where she was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
After an hour, I had visions of her pushing it home. I looked up how long it would take. An hour and forty minutes seemed a bit steep. There were sidewalks along the way, and when I mentioned it, she paused her attempt at getting it into my car. Her eyes were wild, and I saw sweat on her brow. The look I got was piercing and somewhat scary.
“No! I keep seeing myself doing that! I’m not doing that!”
I started laughing as I saw it more clearly in my mind. Her schlepping it all the way home would look a lot like she was wandering the streets homeless.
“I will drive slow and follow you,” I suggested trying not to laugh more.
I could not stop laughing. I don’t know if the summer heat was getting to me mixed with desperation or what.
What happened next is still unexplainable, but she snapped and suddenly wasn’t willing to play this game anymore. Similar to when a pregnant lady lifts a car off of someone pinned underneath it, she gathered together her strength and applied it to this situation.
With a forceful shove and a primal-like scream, it popped right in. She stomped off to get into the front seat. She had somehow solved the puzzle, like a Rubix Cube. I was astonished she had done it by herself.
“How did you get that in there?” I said, pulling out of the parking lot.
“I don’t know. I got angry, and it went in as it should have over an hour ago!”
I laughed, thinking of the alternative if it hadn’t.
Once I pulled into the garage, I figured it would be easy for us to remove it, but I was wrong. We were right back at square one.
“What is with this thing!” I said. More perspiration and it not budging. Now I was getting worried.
“What if we can’t get this out? I will have to drive around with a Toys R Us cart in the back of my car forever!”
“Stop!” She said, trying to catch her breath.
Her sister wandered out to help.
“How did you get this in there?”
“We don’t know,” I said.
All three of us put in our best effort from various angles. My concern was growing exponentially, and there wasn’t any way to take this molded piece of plastic apart.
“What if I have to sell my car someday? Who is going to want this?”
I could see the ad: It even comes with a shopping cart!
“Stop!” She said again, with her irritation charging off the charts.
I stood back to observe. I was at a total loss. It was like one of those moments when you wished it was a bad dream.
“I’m going in the house for a minute,” I said.
I realized that looking at the mess we were in wasn’t helping me solve the dilemma, and I had to get away from it.
I had read so many books that had discussed the benefits of visualization and seeing the outcome. I sat on the couch, closed my eyes, and imagined her coming in the door telling me she had figured it out. I felt like this was more productive than me watching and worrying.
Within a very short while, the door opened, and she said,
“I got it out!” Exactly what I saw in my imagination.
Like birthing a baby with sheer determination, she had single-handedly yanked it out of my car.
“Yes!” And she collapsed in a heap on the floor. She was more mentally tired than anything.
This speaks to what we are capable of if we put our mind to it. Each one of us can overcome every obstacle that comes our way. She kept trying no matter how much effort was required, and I removed myself to help her more.
In Isaiah 40:29 it says:
He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might, He increases strength, causing it to multiply and making it abound. (AMP)
I knew that my negativity and fear were not helping, so I turned my attention inward to what we wanted instead of what we didn’t want.
In Hebrews 11:1, it is described like this:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I saw what hadn’t happened yet, and then it materialized. I sat in the comfort of my air-conditioned house without stress or strain and saw the best images I possibly could.
Each of us has been given the ability to overcome anything if we are willing to apply our faith. To the unsuspecting eye, it looked like I had fallen asleep in the living room, but I was putting in as much work as she was.
The combination of her not giving up and me seeing the solution freed us from all toil. Our repeated actions were not making any difference, and it wasn’t until I tried something else we made progress.
When tenacity is combined with the simple act of prayer, heaven seems to suddenly jump into action to make a way where there seems to be no way.