When I was a kid, going to the dentist meant boredom. I had to remember to bring a book for the tiny waiting room, because I was likely going to be there for a while, shuffling my feet and avoiding eye contact.
I remember the mobile of little sail boats that hung above the chair. I would alternate watching the boats and counting the ceiling tiles, as my dentist went to work on my teeth.
When I was a little older, they got a series of John Lim prints for their exam rooms. I would sit, with the trays of oozing flouride against my teeth, staring at those rotund people with their sideways circular heads for what seemed like hours.
Don't get me started about fillings. I have several. It's not my fault though; I have deep molars, my dentist said so. Some of these fillings weren't even for cavities, they were "preventative."
I can't un-see the giant needles they used to freeze my face. One time, they had to use about five needles on me, because my face just would not freeze. My dentist hit a nerve* and my jaw hurt for weeks. To this day, I am terrified of needles. The first time I took Beege to get a needle, everything went swimmy and black, and the nurse had to hold her because they were worried I'd drop her.
All those metal clamps and horrible rubber things and spit vacuum hanging out of my mouth while they used the world's loudest drill to dig into my teeth... I still shudder.
Last month, we managed to get my entire family to the dentist on the same day. (Because I am a genius.)
Going to the dentist today is not what I remember from when I was a kid. Could not be more different. They've got new swanky offices, with a huge waiting room.
No one has to be worried about being bored while waiting, because we've brought an iPhone, an iPad, and books.
They've got TVs hanging from the ceiling above the chairs in the exam rooms, so you couldn't count the ceiling tiles even if you wanted to. They've got more channels at the dentist's office than I have at home.
When we left, we got loot bags. Seriously. We left the dentist's office with a bag full of brightly coloured, character covered, dental loot. Three different kinds of tooth floss, people.
It went remarkably well. We managed to be seen in an order that allowed a parent to be with a child at all times**. No one whined. No one threw up. It was practically a miracle.
Kee was the last one to get her teeth cleaned. Everything was going well, until the hygienist looked up at me and said, "she's got a cavity," in what I can only describe as an accusatory tone***. Shame washed over me and my face turned bright red. "What?!" I was too shocked to even be polite.
"Right there," she said, poking at Kee's back molar. "You can see it."
Oh my god. I could see it. My three year old has a cavity.
I am the worst mother ever.
To be continued...
*This may have been more painful than childbirth. It's hard to say. I actually screamed.
**Except for like, three minutes, but the receptionists love Beege and she sat with them and played on the iPhone.
***I'm pretty sure, looking back, that there was no tone. The hygienist is very nice and generally not the type to get all tone-y with you.