It’s Monday. The hubby is at work, and I’m in my PJs at 9 a.m. thinking about getting my 2-year-old and me to a pool, when suddenly I get a text.
“Family Smile Dentistry is looking forward to your daughter’s 10:30 appointment today!”
Even though this clinic sent me three texts, called and even mailed a postcard from just three blocks away, I forgot today was the child’s two-year checkup.
Suddenly I feel like I’m part of the McCallister family from Home Alone, rushing around trying to make it on time. Instead of cheerful rush music, I am yelling all sorts of inoffensive curse words in front of my mimic child.
We must shower, dress and get ready in less than an hour. I throw on the iPad for the kiddo to watch, put a couple of Little Critter and Berenstain Bears books about the dentist in my purse, and get my hobo-looking self together.
They don’t care if parents arrive in Agent P pajamas and messy hair, as long as we show up on time with our kids’ teeth. Regardless of this fact, I decide we need to look somewhat presentable before walking out the door. Wash hair, put on mascara and shave under my arms. This is more than I do for my own husband, but then again, I don’t make special arrangements for him every six months.
I realize the child has no clean clothes that are appropriate. The only articles of clothing that aren’t stained with feces, vomit or dried food are the dress she wore at Christmas, a cowboy costume and a Lilly Pulitzer dress from Target that I may or may not have gone Mr. Miyagi on some woman to get.
Pulitzer it is for the little lady.
I’m finally about to drive off when I realize I forgot the number-one thing I had to do before getting to the appointment.
I didn’t brush my daughter’s teeth.
It’s now Sophie’s Choice: Brush her teeth so the dentist thinks I have my shit together and be late, or arrive on time with my kid’s teeth looking like candy and soda are her only diet.
I finally conclude that I am not Meryl Streep nor will she ever play my character when I become a famous writer for a Hollywood story (ha!).
I can have both.
So, I let my kid suck toothpaste off of a toothbrush while I drive off to Family Smile Dentistry. Take that, Sophie!
Regardless of my smart move, we are still late. Murphy’s Law states that when you are late for an appointment, your garage door won’t close, an old lady will cross the street in front of you, and you’ll have to honk your horn at at least two people who are still texting five minutes after the light turned green.
Luckily the receptionist says, “It’s okay. The dentist is running a little behind this morning. Please sit in the waiting room, and we will call you when we are ready.”
My child sees the waiting room and bolts toward it. It’s a child’s dream, with 20 books, two televisions playing different programs, a whole train table, two buckets of toys and a giant stuffed lion.
I, however, see 20 torn and unreadable books, two of the worst shows I could possibly watch simultaneously, another piece of furniture my child will climb on, a couple of buckets that contain E. coli and a giant lice-infested stuffed creature.
Waiters can’t be choosers, so off goes my hurricane of a child to claim all that is “hers.”
Then I see why the dentist is running late: A mother and her child are walking out. The mother is yelling at the dentist.
“How dare you give my child fluoride toothpaste! You are practically poisoning my child! I’ve read on parenting blogs how it slowly kills children and possibly makes them autistic!”
Meanwhile Junior is tugging on her shirt saying, “I wanna go to McDonald’s! You proooommmiisssed!”
And off they go, with the dentist looking only a bit frazzled.
The dentist’s assistant calls us.
She is a cheerful young lady. She explains that she has to take X-rays of my daughter’s mouth. My daughter happily goes into the chair. The assistant explains how she will put a smock on her and that she has a square piece to put in her mouth and a tube will take the photo.
The toddler seems to agree to this until she sees how large the square piece is in her tiny mouth. It slips out and the child wails. The assistant is trying very hard to hold her still, but the toddler won’t relent.
The back-up assistant is coming to help, and I’m trying to do anything I can to calm the kid down.
Finally I decide to be Batman and let the dentist be the hero Gotham deserves.
I hold her mouth open and tell them to start taking X-rays before she clamps onto my hands.
They take the order and start snapping away.
They have the photos, and my child’s future therapist is going to get a bonus.
The assistant then tells us we are going to go into another room for the cleaning and examination.
My child, now fully realizing the hell we have entered, is refusing to sit in the dentist’s chair.
We decide she should have her head rest on my knees and her legs on my sides, so I have my arms to hold her. This is another struggle. Of course, the poor assistant keeps gagging my squirming kid. The child then vomits all over.
The assistant is apologizing profusely. I’m trying to keep my cool and, of course, the child continues to wail. The woman is trying to make up for the procedure by throwing toys and goodie bags at her. It doesn’t work.
I can hear this woman’s ovaries shriveling and her tubes tying themselves together thanks to my child.
Finally the dentist comes in. She tells me her teeth are fine. Everything checks out okay.
Meanwhile my child keeps saying “Mickey Mouse” over and over again. Finally I ask her why she is saying this, and she points up to a television hanging from the ceiling.
The assistant explains, “Oh, we have cartoons to help distract the kids while they sit.”
I look at her with death in my eyes.
“You mean to tell me that we went through all of this, and you didn’t tell me you had a Hail Mary hanging right above our heads to help?”
“Oh, I didn’t know your daughter would want that.”
In an icy voice, I explain:
“Lady, I am still a functioning human being because my child does want that. If we didn’t have that in our house we would never be functioning people in this day and age!”
I thank the dentist and proceed to get us the hell out of there.
I’m talking to the receptionist about our insurance when the dentist taps me on the shoulder.
“One more thing—your daughter can’t have anything to eat or drink for 30 minutes after her teeth cleaning.”
The child, who doesn’t understand how to put on her own underwear, clearly hears this sentence and immediately demands to be fed. Right now.
As I lead my clean-toothed, vomit-covered, starving child through the door, the receptionist says, “See you in six months!”
Of course, I’m not in Sophie’s Choice, I’m in Groundhog Day. Bill Murray could totally play a psychotic mother gone apeshit in a dental clinic.