The children and I had a dentist’s appointment on Tuesday, the timing of which was most inconvenient and required me to wake the baby forty minutes early from his nap to collect his sister from school. He was not pleased. That aside, he soon cheered up when he realised we were going to see the dentist. I don’t know what he was expecting exactly, but I can say this: I did not get what I was expecting, either.
The dentist exposed me. The dentist stripped me of my outer veneer and exposed all of my failings, if only to myself. I left the surgery feeling ashamed and useless. So, what happened?
I am lucky to have an NHS dentist. My husband did not join in time when they opened their doors seven years ago and he has to pay through the nose whenever he requires treatment. The children and I are lucky and so don’t complain about the fact that we have now had five different dentists since joining. I’m not keen on going to the dentist anyway so I’m hardly likely to build up a rapport with any of them. As long as they don’t hurt me, they can continue to change who I see as and when they please.
When we arrived on Tuesday, I noticed that our last dentist’s name was missing from the ‘dental-roll’ on the front door and so enquired who our dentist would be today. I didn’t catch the full name as the toddler was screaming in my ear about biscuits, but I was directed upstairs and I knew that there was only one dentist up there, so the right one would find me.
Upstairs, I started to update our medical histories- smugly recording my weekly alcohol intake as zero- and didn’t take much notice when a distinctly Spanish woman called us into the dentist’s office. Inside, she was joined by a younger man who requested my medical notes. That’s when I started to expose myself. As a bad parent. Or one who struggles with teeth brushing, at least.
‘He won’t let me brush his teeth.’ I told him with a sigh, expecting more than the half smile I was rewarded. ‘He lets his dad do it, but I have to battle with him every morning.’
I tried again, rooting in my bag for the fantastic Brush Baby Chew brush we’ve been using. I waved it before his face and tried to redeem myself.
‘I use this.’ I announced and he simply looked down at his computer. Strange.
Meanwhile, the Big One was becoming acquainted with the Spanish lady, who was showing her princess stickers and asking her to sit back on her magic chair. And then it hit me. And I was exposed once more.
Not only was I useless at getting toddlers to brush their teeth, but I was also sexist!
The Spanish lady was the dentist, and the poor guy I was harassing with my failings was not. Although, he could’ve made conversation…
I was mortified. I’d assumed the guy was the dentist because I have never had a female dentist before. I hoped that they hadn’t realised but I assumed they had really. I spent the remainder of the appointment with false jollity, trying to get the toddler to show his teeth.
‘Open your mouth for the dentist.’ I instructed.
And: ‘Show the dentist your lovely teeth!’
I made sure the children knew that the Spanish lady was the dentist.
Once outside, with stickers on our chests, the Big One asked me why the dentist was a lady.
‘Ladies can be dentists too.’ I responded, feeling more ashamed.
So, to sum up: I can’t get toddlers to brush their teeth, I am sexist and I have passed this on to my daughter. For a finale, I think I will teach the toddler some curse words…