For the love of a child

So my daughter is the coolest kid ever. Sometimes I take for granted the fact that she loves me and I love her and go on about our daily life. And then one day I go into the kitchen and find a scribbled note on the greaseboard that just makes me want to hug her and never let go.

The past few days I’ve had a bit of an achy problem with my teeth. To be honest, I don’t think it’s actually my teeth that hurt more than my cheekbone as that seems to be where the pain is emanating from. Anyway it’s been annoying and I suppose I’ve been a little whiny about it in front of the kidlet, who will inevitably tell me I should go to the dentist.

If you know me, I have an inordinate fear of the dentist. It’s more than your typical fear really, more of a phobia for me. I fully blame this phobia on terrifying, painful memories of my five years in braces back in junior high and high school. I had a problem with my front tooth in that there were some weird tooth ‘buds’ they called them preventing my adult tooth from dropping down. In fact my right front tooth was positioned up in my gums sideways and far above my left front tooth.

So I had to have surgery to remove the ‘buds’ and have a brace bracket glued onto the weirdly positioned tooth, a chain attached to it and left to dangle out of the gaping hole where my baby front tooth had previously been. Sounds gross right? Well imagine being in your awkward stage in a junior high filled with the sort of mean girls who make Lindsey Lohan’s mean girls look like angels of mercy. Now imagine having no front tooth, gross-looking stitches on your gums and a little gold chain dangling in from your gums as well. Add thick glasses and a mother with a skewed idea of what constituted fashion at that time and you can begin to see what I had to deal with.

Anyway, once I healed from surgery I had to have braces put on the rest of my upper teeth and the chain was anchored to the wire running through them. Once a month I had to walk to the dentist’s office and have him tighten that damn chain. This mean him removing a link and anchoring the next link to the wire and twisting so hard I thought I would pass out from the pressure on my skull. It was awful. I began to hate the smell of the dentis’s office. I began to dread the walk to the office. I couldn’t eat solid food for three days after each visit because any pressure on my teeth was agony.

And I did this for five years. It might not have even been so long if the dentist I’d been seeing hadn’t been ripping off my family by not really doing much beyond the twisting of the chain to aid my tooth in coming down and instead just letting me come every month while my parents forked over $200 each visit. After we moved and I started a new dentist in California, he scraped aside a bit of gum membrane and within a month my tooth dropped all the way down as it was supposed to.

So forgive me if I’m not exactly fond of the dentist. When my daughter said to me I should go, I admit I got a little annoyed. She knew my fears. But she said it anyway. I told her that even if I could get over it and go, at the moment I have no insurance because of my job switch. My new plan won’t kick in for another couple of months, after the obligatory probationary period and I couldn’t afford to pay full price for coverage with my old job while I transitioned. And no way can I afford to pay out of pocket for any nasty work the dentist would probably want to do.

So I decided to quit being whingy about it in hopes she’d let the matter drop. Later that day I went into the kitchen to get some hot tea when I saw her note on the greaseboard: “I don’t want a lecture, but health is more important than money and I don’t like to see you hurting.” Then she drew a little smiley and my heart just about melted.

I gave her the biggest hug, told her I loved her and I understood her message. I told her it made me feel better just reading it. I didn’t lecture her but I did gently say that I just can’t go because I can’t afford it. I told her that when the insurance kicks back in and I’m still feeling it, I will go to the dentist if it kills me. Which it probably will. But I’ll do it because I love my daughter.