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.