A choose your own tragedy adventure

Remember those “choose your own adventure” books? I remember how excited I was when they first came out. And then I realized that no matter what I did, I always picked wrong.

You’ve come to a fork in the path! Do you go left or right?

*I choose left and turn to the page directed*

Too bad! You walk three more feet down the path and fall into a trap, breaking every bone in your body, and are then eaten by a pack of hungry goblins. Sorry!

Story of my life, man. STORY OF MY LIFE. (Somewhere in the back, Otto is now going, “HEY!” Okay, I don’t ALWAYS pick wrong. But let’s just say I manage the most circuitous path to the right choice, then.)

And yesterday… well, yesterday was NO DIFFERENT.

Yesterday morning Monkey was VERY! EXCITED! because it was time to go to the orthodontist and get his bands fitted and impressions taken so that in a couple of weeks he can be outfitted with his own multi-thousand-dollar Hannibal Lechter mouthguards. He really has no idea what lies in store for him, here, and that’s fine. I am not going to squelch the excitement.

And of course the orthodontist DOES offer after-school appointments, but only on alternate Wednesdays when the moon is full and Jupiter is aligned with Mars, so I’ve tried to make his fifteen necessary “start-up” appointments for either first thing in the morning or at lunchtime. Yesterday’s appointment was for 8:10 in the morning. He had asked me a dozen times to remind him what was happening yesterday, and a dozen times I reiterated that all they would be doing was fitting his bands and taking impressions of his teeth, GEEZ.

Your son wants to know what will happen at the orthodontist. Do you tell him you’re not sure, or say over and over that it will be absolutely nothing with no pain whatsoever?

Breakfast was an interesting affair, with Monkey bouncing off the walls and Chickadee skulking around and whining and having a complete meltdown over her hair. In other words, it was a perfectly average morning.

Your daughter is acting like the world is ending. Do you pay any real attention or do you assume she is JUST BEING DIFFICULT and ignore and/or snap at her while she whines?

I packed Chickadee off to school with Otto, then let Monkey watch 10 minutes of cartoons before we needed to leave, and off we went. At the last moment I grabbed my laptop, reasoning that the ortho probably had wireless available. I swear the car vibrated all the way over there from Monkey hopping up and down in his car seat.

You’ve made your son an orthodontist appointment on a day when you have several deadlines! Do you bring everything you need to do some work, or do you just assume the time will be a wash?

At the orthodontist, Monkey ran off to play video games. Because that place is like a goddamned funhouse, and for what they charge, IT SHOULD BE. I sat down with my computer and opened it up. No wireless. Crap. Okay, well, I had a couple of things I could work on offline. Maybe I would just check my email from my phone, first….

You’ve left the house with one child while the other is at school. Do you bring your cell phone or do you discover that SOMEONE didn’t put it back in your purse once you’ve already arrived at your destination?

No cell phone. Chickadee had called her dad the night before and then never put it back afterwards. I hadn’t thought to check, because my cell phone LIVES in my purse. No email. No reachability. What if…? Okay, here’s where I gave myself a little pep talk. THE WORLD CONTINUED TO TURN BEFORE THE ADVENT OF CELLULAR PHONES. Everything is fine. No one will need to reach me for the hour I’m going to be here. No problem.

They called Monkey back and I worked for a bit and then listened to a podcast on my iPod. (Yes, I had my iPod but not my cell phone. I AM A RESPONSIBLE PARENT, YO.) A nice lady called me over to make payment arrangements, and after I finished bleeding all over her desk she asked me if I wanted to go see Monkey. I said of course I did.

Your son is lying in one of those dental chairs looking very small and worried. Do you ruffle his hair and sit down with a magazine or ask the woman working on him what’s wrong?

So GUESS WHAT! Monkey was wearing three bands. Three bands which they’d slipped right over his teeth with nary a problem. Isn’t that great?

Well, it sort of is. I mean, it IS. But the problem here is that he needs FOUR bands.

They couldn’t get the fourth band on, you see. And here is where my father needs to stop reading and go have a cup of coffee—they couldn’t get the fourth band on because his gum tissue was too high up over the tooth. You know what they do for that? THEY LASER OFF PART OF THE GUM.

You know, right there in the middle of the orthodontist’s office.

The orthodontist assures you that this gum lasering is a “minor procedure” and your son “won’t even feel it.” Do you explain that your son has a sensory processing disorder and that this may be problematic, or do you believe him when he says it will be painless?

They applied a topical numbing agent and then passed out sunglasses to all of us. The orthodontist bent over Monkey with a laser and started to work. And Monkey started to cry.

He applied more numbing gel.

Monkey cried harder.

They called in their roving DMD to give him a shot of Novocaine. By this point, Monkey was complaining that his lips were numb. He took the shot with no problem at all, but when the DMD set to work with the laser, he started to SCREAM. The DMD scolded him for “scaring the other children.”

Your son has completely decompensated in the face of too much sensory input. Do you hold his hand and stroke his hair and attempt to explain to the “professionals” working on him that actually, he is freaked out because his lips are numb, or do you just punch the DMD in the face because she’s sort of a bitch?

Finally they finished up with the laser and Monkey was allowed to sit up for a minute, during which time he clung to me like the spider monkey for which he is nicknamed, gulping and hiccuping into my shoulder, murmuring “My lips… I don’t like it… make it stop.” I got him calmed down and then they went to fit the fourth band.

It took three tries, but they finally got it. Then they did his impressions, and it was finally over.

Congratulations! You’re finished and on your way back to school. Do you stop and buy the kid a pony or just let him have a snack in the car?

Monkey recovered nicely and bounced out of the car at school. We went to the office and signed him in, and I kissed him goodbye and headed home. I checked my watch and noticed that the entire debacle had taken over TWO HOURS. My head was full of to-do items as I sped back to my haven of internet connectivity.

As I came upon our driveway, I saw Otto’s car. I drove up to the house so fast I’m lucky I didn’t HIT his car.

Otto’s car + Otto is supposed to be teaching a class + I don’t have my cell phone = OHMIGOD WHO DIED??

You’re about to open the door to your house, where you already know there must be A Major Crisis. Do you take a moment to compose yourself or do you just bust in calling, “OTTO? WHAT’S WRONG?!?”

Hey, GUESS WHAT! Chickadee had been sent to the nurse’s office with a “stomach thing.” And they tried to call me at home, but I wasn’t there. And then they tried my cell, but I didn’t answer that, either, because it was SITTING ON THE END TABLE. So then they called Otto, who had to CANCEL CLASS to go get her.

Otto was annoyed with me for “screening calls” until I pointed out that I hadn’t had my phone. And then I felt terrible because he had to cancel class, and then I was annoyed with Chickadee because she can be a little suggestible when it comes to illness (and “there were lots of kids from my class sent home!”), but that ended after she went upstairs and took a nap. For THREE HOURS.

I spent the remainder of the day working, taking care of Chickadee, shuffling around classes and appointments for the day that needed to be rescheduled, and thinking about how what I’d originally planned to make for dinner was not only not stomach-bug-friendly, but would make the whole house smell spicy and was therefore probably a poor choice.

You’ve reached the end of an utterly craptastic day. You’re tired and cranky and worried, and you still have a ton of work to do. Do you kick back and relax, or do you go to three-hour school committee meeting?

I always pick wrong, my friends. I always pick WRONG.


  1. Jenny

    Did you at least get to punch someone at the committee meeting? I’m sure there was someone there who deserved it — there always is.

  2. Jenny

    PS — It’s a shame you can’t send vodka over the internet. So what if it’s 8:30 am? I hope today is a lot better!

  3. StephLove

    Some days you just can’t pick right. Hope today is a better day.

    p.s. It took me a few tries to get through this post as I was interrupted by various toddler-related crises. (E.G. All sippy cups except the one with the missing valve are dirty. Do you fill that one with milk in hopes she won’t turn it upside down or wash one? You get the picture.)

  4. Megan

    Oh Pooh. But you get a shiny golden star (with Extra! Twinkles!) for making me feel a weensy bit less like the worst mother ever for not giving my children orthodontics. Yes, Child 2 actually grew into It’s teeth and now has a charming smile, yes Child 1 has told me that the gap in It’s teeth is “fun” and “cute,” yes Child 3 has no concept of wonky teeth and is thrilled enough that it has a mouth! That makes irritating noises! and yes we have the world’s worst benefits package so orthodontics are on that list of “when, if, ever” BUT…

    … sorry it was such a horrible, awful, no good, very bad day.

  5. Katie

    Tomorrow will be a better day. Repeat as necessary.

    I’ve already made 3 wrong choices today and it’s not even 9am. Have some chocolate.

  6. Ladybug Crossing

    So… how was that School Committee Meeting?? Hmmm???

  7. Bikini

    When I read those books, I always scanned the pages for the best ending and worked it backwards.

    That probably won’t work in real life, though.

  8. E

    Sorry your day was so craptastic!

    I always looked at both options in those books before choosing which way to go. I could never just blindly make a decision and stick to it. Which is probably why real life is SO DARN HARD for me.

  9. MomCat

    That tooth band incident has my heart palpitating. I can’t imagine it with sensory input disorder. I think you were exactly where you needed to be. Monkey needed you more.

    Today I’m recommending chocolate covered bacon with a chaser of wine. For you, not Monkey.

  10. Melanie Marie

    I’m very impressed that you didn’t punch that woman in the face! She totally deserved it!

  11. Brigitte

    Sorry that your craptastic day made me laugh, especially that last bit.

  12. Leandra

    I freak when I don’t have my phone either. I always have to talk myself down by reminding myself that I didn’t always have a phone. The other day mine was about to die and I tried to call my husband to let him know that it was about to die and he accidentally hung up on me. THEN my phone did die. And he tried calling me for a half an hour while I was on my way home and then was completely pissed at me because I hadn’t answered his calls. Well dang! It was HIS fault he hung up on me! Stupid cell phones.

    Hope Chickie is better and Monkey not too traumatized. Unfortuantely, I bet he won’t be nearly so excited to go back next time. I hope you have a better day today.

  13. Bob

    here’s to hoping Monkey has a short-term memory.

    fifteen start-up appointments. sheesh.

    how many mid-prodedure appointments? post-procedure appointments?

    damn, I’m in the wrong frickin’ career field.

  14. Sheila

    You should have asked for some numbing agent for yourself. I’d have requested it right between the eyes.

    Hope today is better.

  15. prophet

    what an incredible way to tell that story!

    “I always pick wrong, my friends. I always pick WRONG.”

    sigh. . . .

  16. RuthWells

    Choose chocolate, and/or tequila — can’t go wrong there. Poor Monkey, and poor Mir. Hopefully the ortho will get easier…

  17. Deb

    Hugs to all of you! What an ordeal! And I understand the panic when you felt something had gone wrong when you saw the car. We went 3 hours away for a funeral, then got a call during it that my bubby might have appendicitis and was being rushed to the doctor. I handle things nicely until I am 3 hours away from my “baby” who might need an operation. I freaked! It ended fine, but the scare is still with me. Hope everyone is feeling better today.

  18. Rachel May

    You mean those books actually had RIGHT choices?? I figured they were written by therapists who wanted everyone to end up in therapy, so they just filled them with craptastic choices that give everyone self-esteem issues.

  19. Lori

    OMG you made me laugh today. Thank you! I always made the wrong choices to – I think it is all part of being a parent. That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!

    Today will be better.

  20. Ani

    LALALALALA how did that end?

    Cause I had to stop reading at LASERING GUMS OFF. Ouch.

    Not looking forward to next fall, when we move to a new town, and start the orthodontist dance with the squirmy 8-yr-old. And the 3-yr-old has a wicked underbite that will probably eventually need jaw surgery. I’d better get started hoarding vodka.

  21. Aimee

    Oh, poor little spider monkey. I hesitate to recommend violence, but I *do* think a punch would have done her good.

    As for you, apply chocolate and alcohol as needed.

  22. All Adither

    Shite. You went to the meeting didn’t you?

  23. SassyBelle

    Yeah, but….

    I mean, speaking as a college student… His students probably didn’t mind geting out of class. Besides, isn’t it a parental milestone for Otto? Sick kid? Phone call? Upset plans? No? No?

    Darnit, Mir, I’m trying to find your bright side! :)

  24. Kimmie

    I felt that Chickadee thing coming on…..especially the without the cell phone. It happens.

  25. Melisa

    Yikes! I’m exhausted! I don’t know ’bout you, but I don’t really like this book so much.

  26. The Other Leanne

    Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by Mir’s ordeal, do I go back to bed or do I go to work and face my own craptastic day?

  27. Little Bird

    That DMD totally deserved a decking. Anyone who scolds a child for “scareing the other children” needs to be taken down a notch or three. How can this person work with kids? I feel for Monkey, the orthodontist sucks. Buy the kid a BUNCH of ponies. Does he still like stuffed animals? Because having that soft something to cuddle after having your mouth poked and prodded and generally mistreated can be a reasuring thing.

  28. jen

    ANYONE who has to deal with children (teachers, doctors, dentists, hair stylists) need to know about SPD and how screwed up it can make the simplest thing. Is Monkey doing better? And once you got home from the committee meeting and punched someone in the face for the relief of it, please tell me you came home and poured a large glass of red wine. ;)

  29. D

    Looking on the bright side – you’re on the right side of the dirt. That’s better than the alternative. :-)

  30. TC

    Hey! My version of Chickadee was sent home yesterday for “a stomach thing” too. You are nicer than I am, though, because I informed her that the fact that she didn’t throw up meant she wasn’t sick enough to come home. and in the future she should tough it out. (Hey, I had a big deadline myself, and she INTERRUPTED ME with her ‘need to come home’ because she felt a little sick. And everyone kept acting like having compassion for sick kids is part of the mommy job description. What? It IS? Shit.)

  31. Donna

    I always died terrible deaths at the ends of those books too.
    Stupid choices!

  32. elizabeth

    poor Monkey. hope Chickadee is better too. (real or suggested)
    I’m with TC to some degree, sometimes you need to tell them to suck it up. unless they unequivocally prove they are sick.(read: puke on your shoes) I wonder if there is a way to convey that message to the school nurse without having child services called.

  33. Heidi

    Oy. Ah, but the good new is, you definitely made the right choice (eventually) when it came to Otto, who stepped right up to the plate when it came to to deal with A Major Crises.

  34. Heidi

    I CAN spell. Really.

  35. dabbler

    Poor Mir!!! Surprise dental work is probably worse for moms than anyone. Hope today turns out to be much better!

  36. Rachel

    What is with those dental people? Every one of them in our city (population 50,000, so not huge, but plenty of dentists around) has their office closed all day Friday (and of course Sat. & Sun.). Oh, and you’re lucky to schedule around lunch, because my kids pediatric dentist closes from 11 – 1 for lunch, plus closed Friday, aarrggghhh! My dentist is only open from 7:30 to 3:30 Monday – Thursday, and don’t try call them at 3:20 because that is too close to closing time to answer the phone! Haven’t had to deal with an orthodontist (yet, knock on wood), but dreading that day.

    On a better note, I hope today is better for you! And, as always, you look very, very pretty today! = )

  37. Lauren

    Ah, they trotted out the old “you’re scaring the other children.” I cannot believe anyone thinks that’s a helpful thing to say. My pediatric dentist said that to me when I got a baby tooth extracted (one with a three-quarter-inch root and not nearly enough Novocaine) and I never went back there. Poor Monkey. I feel his pain.

  38. daring one

    From all this, the thing that jumps out at me the most is, “I love Otto.” Seriously you picked a winner there, no matter how long of a route you had to take to get there.

  39. Dana

    Sorry about the crummy day! I hope the next day is much better!

  40. Tootsie Farklepants

    I really REALLY hope that Mr. Abstinence Guy was at your meeting and you kicked him in the shins! Because, you know, that’s what I would do after a day like that.

  41. Alison

    I hated those books for the same reason. I just couldn’t stand that the odds were so stacked against me.

    So sorry you had such a crappy day.

    The odds are both of my kids will have to have braces (since my husband & I both did) and the part about lasering off the gum freaked me out. Some parts of parenting obviously don’t get easier as they get older.

  42. Amy-Go

    You are. A better person. Than me.

  43. dad

    Someday you will look back fondly on these frenzied times.

    OK, I was just trying to make you feel better.
    Thanks for the pre-gore warning.

  44. Daisy

    After all that, I’d like to hear your perception of the meeting! I’m sure someone, somehow, nearly made you explode.

  45. Marie

    My son got his braces today. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they gave me the price.

  46. saucygrrl

    Aw. Poor You. Poor Monkey. Poor Chickadee. Some days are just damn shitty. Sorry to hear it.

  47. Headless Mom

    Oy. That was truly painful. Especially the dentist part. I hate those people.

  48. Amy@UWM

    Oh, the joys of being a working mom. Trust me, there are no RIGHT answers…

  49. Fancypants McGee

    Wow. I lost my phone today too. Where could it be? I called it for over an hour and could hear it but not find it. Why? My toddler put it in the diaper pail to which it fell to the bottom. Under.dirty.and.pee.filled.diapers.

    Do I ditch a nearly new Blackberry because I can never put it close to my head again or just pretend it never happened? Both options suck.

  50. Brenna

    Here’s another college student whose first reaction to this story was, “Yay! No class!”

  51. mama speak

    When I was a kid my brother & I were at the dentist, pediatric mind you. He was having his teeth pulled and it turns out he’s allergic to novacane (mom is too), but we didn’t know that then. What we did know is that my bro has this incredible pain tolerance, like he’s one of those people you’ll see on the news at some point cause he walked around w/a broken leg for a day before realizing that “since it still kinda hurt maybe he should have it looked at” (For real, he did that w/a broken arm; compound no less, in the 2nd grade!). Anyway, he started to cry because it hurt and the dentist yelled at him (same kind of thing like “scaring all the other kids) um, excuse me???? I was like 7 at the time & let him have it will all 7 of my years of what not, Oh yes I did girlfriend! After the dentist told me to stay our of it, I went & got my mom cause somehow the dentist telling my bro to “shut up and stoping such a baby” didn’t seem like the bedside manner we were really looking for. He thought my 7YO whatnot attitude was a pain the arce, well you can guess my my mom’s whatnot attitude was like; plus she used to be a dential hygenist, so she was all over him.

    Anyway, I do have a point which is, any doctor who is treating a child and responds to that child being upset by telling him to “stop scaring the other kids” or “shut up” or “stop being such a baby” or anything else along those lines; should NOT be treating children. I knew that when I was SEVEN. I would’ve punched and just may have to fly out there to do it.

    Now I’m gonna have eat some girl scout cookies to bring myself down. Give Monkey an extra hug tonight for being brave through it all.

  52. carson

    I have no words, just profound sympathy. (But I know Otto’s students were rejoicing, even though he’s a cool professor. Because nothing brings joy to college students quite so much as those three little words: No Class Today.)

  53. Shannon

    Yikes. As someone who is both sensory sensitive (and I wonder if I am adult with SPD who was never diagnosed as a child) and who hates the dentist….I was shuddering for poor Monkey.

    I always chose wrong in those books too.

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