I have never had a cavity and yet, I hate going to the dentist. I bet you hate going to the dentist. Doesn’t everyone hate going to the dentist? Well, not quite everyone. I had a colleague who loves going to the dentist but that’s because she has a gorgeous smile with healthy teeth and visiting the dentist is like climbing onto the podium to receive her gold medal. So she doesn’t count.
It can be no surprise that Milo HATES HATES HATES going to the dentist. First of all, you have to recline on your back with your animal belly exposed. The light is bright. They give you sunglasses, which are cool, for about a minute, and then they just irritate your nose. A kind woman with upswept hair and a mask puts metal tools in your mouth. You are asked to sit still, and to hold your mouth open, to tolerate poking and prodding and water being shot into your mouth. It’s among Milo’s worst nightmares.
The last time we went to the dentist Milo lasted less than 30 seconds before he was in the waiting room, swinging at me and screaming to go home. So we went home. But he has a silver crown on a cracked baby tooth and it’s been irritating him lately and even though the dentist is a disaster, I can’t allow Milo’s illness to render me neglectful. Everyone needs to have their teeth cared for. So, today we went to the dentist.
The appointment was early in the morning when he wouldn’t have to wait. He had the private room our kind dentist reserves for special needs kids, and the hygienist who works with the hardest cases. We brought his body sock, a pair of my sunglasses that fit him, and his 3DS. We skipped his morning Ritalin and instead I gave him 10 mgs of valium — the amount I take to keep from screaming for help for the duration of a cross country flight, the amount that allows me to sleep before a job interview or an epic IEP meeting.
Walking from the parking lot to the office I asked Milo if he was feeling sleepy?
No, I feel a little worried and anxious.
We stopped, I took another 5 mgs of valium out of my purse and he popped it into his mouth. (Yes, I carry valium in my purse, I call it Vitamin V and it has seen me through some serious shit.) He curled up on the waiting room couch with his head in my lap for a moment and then he went into the back.
I plugged my headphones into Season 2 of Scandal and waited. An assistant came out to tell me that Milo was doing fine. I couldn’t get my headphones off fast enough so I inadvertently shouted “REALLY??” The waiting room has filled with parents thumbing through magazines and checking their phones. They laughed. But then, 10 minutes later, Milo came barreling into the waiting room and they all gasped. He was wrapped in his electric blue body sock, still wearing the clip on bib the dentist uses to catch spit, his floppy hair caught in my giant Jackie O sunglasses, shouting, “Mommy, Mommy, my pirate tooth is falling out, it’s falling out!” and then he fell on me, all 85 pounds of him and asked me for a million dollars.
It was the first time since his illness emerged, that he had the look of a mentally ill person, with matted, unkempt hair, food in his beard, mismatched shoes, and a filthy trench-coat, squatting in a box under a bridge. He looked full on crazy. Full. On. Crazy.
The waiting room was silent. Even the pretty little girls with bows in their hair, stopped playing with the dinosaurs and magna tiles to stare at the nutty little boy.
I took my sunglasses off his face and put them on my head. I helped him step out of the sock and into his crocs. I pushed his hair out of his eyes. I said, “Good for you Buddy.” He took my hand and we headed for the door. Me and my full on crazy kid who had finally, FINALLY, survived the dentist.