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I have the day off work tomorrow. Any guesses what I’m going to do with this fabulous mid-week gift? Mani / pedi and lunch with the girls? Relaxing stroll along the water? Mind-numbing hours spent working my way through my pvr?Nope. Not even close.

I took a day off work tomorrow to take my four-year-old son to the dentist. We will be attempting to have a cavity filled. I say ‘attempting’ because when my daughter had a cavity filled it actually took us four tries. Four days off work. Four tear-filled hours in those little rooms with all the crazy tubes, strange smells and people with fake smiles hidden behind paper masks.  The first three times she made it through the freezing part just fine and then flat-out refused to open her mouth.  I bribed, I cajoled, I offered her everything but my first born (because that would, in fact, be her).  Nothing worked.  I felt like the dentist was judging me, thinking I must be a horrible mother or my kid wouldn’t be doing this.  Like I didn’t spend two weeks trying to prepare her.  Like we hadn’t read “Dora Goes to the Dentist” about fifty times and ‘play-acted’ out the whole thing more times than I care to remember.  None of that mattered because she just sat in the chair with her mouth clamped shut.  The fourth time we knocked her out completely and finally got it done.

And tomorrow I get to do the exact same thing with my son.

Needless to say, I would much rather be going to work.

I don’t like going to the dentist. I have disliked it since I was a child. I can still remember the hygenist I used to get every single time, with her cold hands and untrimmed bangs continually brushing my face. Cringe. When I was a teenager I remember thinking that once I was an adult and could ‘live my own life’ I wouldn’t go to the dentist anymore.  To me that was the ultimate sign of adulthood. How wrong I was; now not only do I go to the dentist, but I also drag my kids there as well.  I have officially become a mother; my mother, in fact.

I had braces twice when I was young so I spent a fair amount of time with other people’s hands stuffed in my mouth.  Yep, two rounds of braces. And glasses. And an ill-advised perm.  No, I’m not going to show you any pictures.  Yes, I too am shocked that I survived my youth relatively unscathed.

Anyway, back to the point. I think that having spent so much time laying in a reclining chair, staring into the bright white light, has tainted me somewhat against those in the oral care industry. Even now, so many years later, I cringe when I get the reminder for an upcoming appointment. I usually try to make up some excuse and reschedule at least twice before finally sucking it up and going.

I hate that they always ask me if I floss regularly. Dude, seriously? You just spent the last ten minutes picking plaque out of my teeth; if I am flossing regularly, I’m definitely not doing it right. Nobody flosses regularly. Except for people who spend their days looking in other people’s mouths, and maybe Tony Robbins. Although at this point Tony probably pays somebody to floss his teeth for him so I would argue that he doesn’t count.

I wish they would just stop asking the question and then I could stop lying when I answer. “I try to floss at least a few times a week” I say, trying to avoid eye contact, “but I know I should try and do it every single day.”  In reality I flossed for the two days leading up to my appointment and won’t floss again until my next appointment.  They know I’m lying; I know they know I’m lying. Let’s just stop kidding each other and get on with it.

All of this dislike has no doubt rubbed off on my kids although I have done my best to try to convince them otherwise.  ‘Going to the dentist is fun’ and ‘look you can watch Handy Manny while they clean your teeth’ and ‘how about I buy you a toy if you don’t cry?’  I know, I’m a horrible mother but at the dentist bribery can be your friend.

The dentist we go to is really quite nice and now they have tv to watch and flavoured polish and flouride treatments that taste like strawberries.  Forgive me for sounding like my grandfather for a moment but “when I was young” going to the dentist meant staring at a cracked plaster ceiling or, if you were lucky, a random poster of a kitten in a wicker basket that someone thought was cute.  The polish tasted like just that, polish, and the flouride treatment had the smell and consistency of glue.

Let’s just be honest, going to the dentist is not fun.  The best you can hope is that you get out of there relatively unscathed, without random bits of polish stuck to your face, clutching a new purple toothbrush and a reminder card to come back in six months.  That’s the best case scenario.

I fear that tomorrow is going to be the worst case.  It’s one thing to force myself to sit in that awful chair and lie about my flossing habits, it’s something completely different to try and make a little boy open his mouth if he doesn’t want to.  I can feel my shoulders tensing just thinking about it.  A headache is beginning to form behind my right eye.  I’m thinking I’m not getting much sleep tonight.

The appointment is scheduled for 8:30 am.  Any good thoughts you could send our way would be appreciated.  The dentist said my son isn’t allowed to drink anything in the morning before the appointment but he didn’t say anything about me.

I think a mimosa might be a good idea.

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the fruit tray

I had been doing so well.  I made it through a visit with Santa without blowing my stack waiting in line.  I managed to make multiple trips to the toy store at peak hours without coming to blows with a cashier or wrestling with another parent over the last Lalaloopsy doll in the store.  I cut myself some slack and decided there wouldn’t be Christmas cards this year.  Things were going pretty well considering we’re now only 4 days until the big day.  I was even thinking that a good-old pat on the back could be in order.

And then came the fruit tray.

My daughter announced to me at 8pm tonight that she needs a fruit tray for her party at school on Friday.  The rational, reasonable part of my brain knows that it’s not a big deal.  I mean really, if I don’t have time to make something I can just buy a pre-made one at the store tomorrow and be done with it.  But, the irrational, Christmas-crazed side of my brain decided for some reason that this was the one thing that was going to push me over the edge.  I lost it.  I can fully admit that this was not one of my better moments as a mom and now, 15 minutes later, I feel really horrible.

I wish I was the kind of person who could go with the flow on this type of thing but, after living with myself for 34 years, I know that it’s not me.  I’m the freak-out kind rather than the roll-with-it kind.

I feel really bad about making my daughter feel bad.  All she wants is a fruit tray to take to her school and it’s not her job to worry about the 10,000 other things I have to do over the next 2 days.  To push the dagger further into my heart, I know that if I did the same thing to my mom when I was little (which I’m sure I did…more than once probably), she wouldn’t have freaked out.  She would have smiled, given me a kiss and when it came time to leave for school on the appointed day, she would hand me a beautiful fruit tray, each piece of fruit cut by her own hand, even if she had to stay up until midnight doing it.

And with that I feel 10 times worse.

I will go to the store tomorrow and get my daughter a fruit tray.  She will take it to school with her on Friday and for her, that will probably be the end of it.  Years from now she probably won’t remember any of this – or at least I hope she doesn’t remember any of this.  However, as all of you mom’s out there know, from this point on, every time I hear the words ‘fruit tray’ I will remember this.  I will remember the guilt and the disappointment in myself as a mother, the time spent wishing I was a different kind of mom.

I’m probably going to cry about it a little bit.  Then I’ll take a deep breath and tell myself that it’s okay, that beating myself up about it won’t make things any better.  I’ll probably only half believe it.

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