The other day my cell phone rang just as I began my ascent up the grand stone steps of my endodontist. Eerily, I had the same heightened awareness Indiana Jones experienced as he entered The Temple of Doom. A root canal waited for me behind the forbidding faux-wood door.
My right foot was poised to carry and guide me up into the suite of offices where stillness reigns, where polite smiles and firm handshakes hide knowledge of needles, gurgling saliva and bloody suction. Then … voila! My baby’s school called. (Well, maybe not his whole school. Maybe it was someone from the attendance office. Maybe he isn’t even a baby. These facts are trivial to my story.) Indeed, my little guy was sick.
When Mrs. E. from the school office told me EJD requested a pick up because he felt sick I asked to speak to him. She had to put him on speaker phone because he was not allowed to talk into her receiver. Understandably.
I asked him if he thought he could wait a few hours until I completed my dental appointment.
“No,” he said.
Say no more. I went up the forbidding steps and told the always pleasant receptionist I needed to reschedule because my 15-year-old son was sick. I told Katy (cause that’s her name) that had this been a few years earlier and had it been my daughter calling me to complain of sickness I might have made her stick it out and go back to class for a few hours. Because my sweet innocent daughter (seems contradictory but it is true nonetheless – just look at the picture above) could turn the truth into her own 3-dimensional executive assistant.
“I’m sorry, Ms. HRD is out sick today,” the executive assistant might tell a bill collector when in fact Ms. HRD might be in her office looking at an Urban Outfitters catalog.
My son doesn’t tell tall tales to escape unpleasantries though, so I knew if he was calling it was serious. When I picked him up I knew immediately I’d done the right thing, turned out he had a stomach virus and he was miserable – he stayed home the next day too.
EJD told me that Mrs. E had doubted the veracity of his ill health and had tried to almost ridicule him into going back to class.
“Oh come on, you can’t let your mom go to the dentist?” EJD recounted her conversation.
That’s the tough thing with teenagers, seems like they come in two varieties and I got one of each. In fact, when I recounted my tale to Katy the dental receptionist she grinned knowingly and said she’d been more akin to my daughter than my son. So that is what I explained to EJD when he seemed a little angry that Mrs. E doubted his story.
I told my son that Mrs. E deals almost all day long with students who approach her with pleas to phone home because of headaches, stomachaches, sore feet or pimples. Hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, especially when you’re not a farmer, or in this case, the parent.
Yay! It is my second root canal in almost as many months. Why? Why you say? BECAUSE I GRIND MY TEETH. I’ve fractured two of them. At this late stage of the game I’ve also scheduled a dental appointment to finally get a night guard. In some way, I know this is illogical, I kind of feel like I am bowing to the man by relinquishing my nightly freedom to an expensive piece of plastic. But my freedom turns out to have been more costly and constricting than any illusion of peaceful sleep.
Sigh. I knew my son felt better when he stopped letting me hug him and when I asked him if I could get him something to eat he said, “Mom! I can take care of myself!”
Later when I went in his room I got, “Mom! Don’t stand so close to me!”
Then at the end of the day came the coup de grace, “Hey Mom? Can I go to the mall?”
The answer was no, and the teeth grinding commenced.