An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Little shop of horrors

The last time we took Leta to the dentist she was so not having it that he had to inspect her teeth while standing three feet away. That was a long time ago, and we have not attempted the dentist since then because we are wimps. Also, when presented with the choice between a) spending an afternoon with sharp, lethal objects in my mouth being held by someone other than myself, or 2) sitting pantsless on the couch eating puffy cheetos while watching SpongeBob, let’s just say that when Jon walked in and was all, you do realize you’re half-naked and laughing at an animated sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea? I was all, then you take her to that place and watch what happens when that man in the white coat approaches her with a dental hook. Go ahead, I’ll wait here and keep your seat warm.

Side note: last weekend while we were at the music festival in San Francisco, Jon and I waited for over four hours next to the front row railing next to stage that Radiohead would be playing. Which means we got to see them live from the front row, but we forgot to eat dinner. And that detail is only important because we forgot about our empty stomachs when a few hours after the show someone started buying us drinks at a bar in the Lower Haight. By the tray full. And then all of a sudden I’m lying in bed at the hotel with my pants off watching the Olympics, and I can’t figure out how I got there. So I turn to Jon and go, dude, something weird just happened! I think we were teleported! And he’s all, wait a minute, you don’t remember stopping into that convenience store and picking up the tortilla chips that are in crumbs right now all over your chest? Or how you turned to me and whispered, “SHHHH! CAN I TELL YOU SOMETHING? I CAN’T SEE SO GOOD.” Or the cab ride home where you kept yelling BUMPY! BUMPY! BUMPY! at the driver? I don’t remember any of it, and ask him how my pants ended up splayed across the top of the television like that, had Ed O’Brien been in here earlier? And he explains that the first thing I did when I walked in the door was rip off my pants, toss them behind my back and fall face first on the bed missing the nightstand by inches, which you have to admit, is just as sexy.

About a month ago our dental hygienist called and said, it’s been a while, you do realize that this is a first world country? And that many people here have all their teeth? Would you like to keep yours? So we sucked it up and made an appointment, and since then have tried to prepare Leta for the experience. And by prepare her for it I mean that when she asked if going to the dentist was like going to the hospital I told her no, of course not. It’s much, much worse.

Yesterday I volunteered to go first, and it wasn’t that bad, I only lost a pint of blood, and then when it was Jon’s turn to go I held Leta in my lap so that she could see what they were doing to him. I talked her through the cleaning and the brushing and the flossing, and every three seconds or so she would turn to me and say, “But they’re not going to do that to me, right? RIGHT? SAY, ‘RIGHT.'” I tried to steer her away from this line of thinking by telling her to watch her father, but this only made her bury her head into my chest even further. So I tried Plan B which was: “If you don’t let them clean your teeth they are all going to fall out. And then you won’t be able to talk. And then you’ll die homeless.”

One of the hygienists working a station over from ours yelled out, “OH MY GOD! My mother said the same thing to me! AND IT WORKED!” So you see, there existed a parent out there like me whose child did not end up a serial killer, although that kid now spends her days jabbing hooks and knives into the mouths of very frightened people. I’ll be sure to add more hugging to my approach, then.

When it came time for Leta’s exam I held her in my lap, climbed into the Chair of Doom and stroked her head to calm her down. Jon sat near us and held her hands, but she kept ripping them from his grip and trying to claw her way out of the building. If you can think of a reward, we used it to try and bribe her: more princess toys, a Barbie dream house, a weekend in Cancun with Dora, a chocolate pony that shits M&M’s. But she screamed and cried and wriggled like we were branding her with an iron. She and Coco are a lot more alike than she’d like to admit. I mean, we yank the slightest bit on Coco’s leash to get her to straighten up and stop barking at a trash can, and she yelps and flails as if we have just removed her gall bladder without anesthesia. Neighbors will look at us like, what on earth are you doing to that poor dog? And Jon is all, this is nothing. You should see how she reacts when we force her to play fetch in traffic.

Our hygienist is amazing with kids, thank God, and was able to time it just right so that when Jon slid Leta’s trembling hand away from her own mouth for a half second she was able to touch a single tooth with the rubber toothbrush. And it was as quick as the realization that pancakes were not going to kill her, because Leta immediately relaxed, opened her mouth and let the hygienist clean every single tooth. And while she was in a forgiving mood the dentist ran over, got within inches of her face and was able to stick his fingers in her mouth to inspect her gums and teeth. Just like that it was over, and you would have thought she had just taken her first steps because we could not praise her enough. Tons of hugs and cheers and kisses, and that’s when the hygienist broke out an array of princess toothbrushes, oh you upstaging hygienist! Just go ahead and send her to the Celestial Kingdom and give her her own planet, why don’t you?

Because apparently there is no treat quite like a princess toothbrush. She’s had Dora toothbrushes and Elmo toothbrushes and my mother is a horrible monster and bought me this RED? WITH NOTHING ON IT? NOT EVEN THE NAME OF A DENTAL CLINIC? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? toothbrushes, but never has she owned a toothbrush decorated with a Disney Princess. And she cradled that toothbrush for the rest of the afternoon, talked about how brave she had been by going to the hospital and letting those people look inside her mouth, how she would show Her Kids this Most Wonderful Toothbrush In All Of The Toothbrush Kingdom, and then at 5:30 PM she looked up at me and said, “I would like to go to sleep and brush my teeth now.”

I got her to last until 6:30 PM, but then I couldn’t take the pleading anymore, and after we dressed her in her pajamas she stood in that bathroom and brushed her teeth for ten straight minutes. I had to physically remove that toothbrush from her mouth, she did not want to let go, and after stories when I was kissing her goodnight she said, “After I sleep, can I brush my teeth? And then right after I brush my teeth I’ll go to sleep again so that I can wake up and brush my teeth again.” Yes, absolutely you can do that. You’ve totally earned it.

  • Last time I went to the dentist, I left with a prescription for Lortab. It totally justified getting my wisdom teeth pulled out before the numbing shots could kick in.

  • Fabulous – I really can’t get enough. Damn this Dooce addiction. Fortunately I was in the comfort of my own home when I read this post – usually I start snickering at work (in a feeble attempt not to laugh TOO loudly), and elicit many a raised eyebrow from my coworkers.

  • So, um, do you think the princess toothbrush trick works for boys? Because my son is almost 5 and has yet to visit the dentist. Perhaps I’d better have my third-world country excuse planned when we finally make an appearance at the torture, I mean dentist, office.

    And I haven’t been to the dentist since….well, let’s just say longer than my kid, and leave it at that. The idea of paying someone to poke a sharp stick inside my mouth? Just not very tempting….

  • Disney Princesses… is there anything that they can’t do?

  • I hear this in your future: “COCO IS LOOKING AT MY TOOTHBRUSH!”

  • My God… this post just reminded me of how much I have, do and always will hate the dentist.

    Thanks for nothing… lol

  • For years, I lived in a bazillion dollar home in the Lower Haight that had to have the graffiti scrubbed from it every morning, and located a half a block from a medicinal marijuana club and a bar that gave you drinks so strong your first urge when arriving home was to rip off your pants and throw them on top of the TV. So I totally know the scene.

    I’m taking notes on the whole princess thing, since our first (and only) daughter is due this December. I figure I have a few years to stock up on Polly Pockets (whatever those are) and princess fetish toothbrushes. Someone should create a tax-free savings fund for that kind of stuff. Really.

  • Maybe next time offer a Disney princess that shits M&Ms?

    (By the way, your Captcha is telling me to “be Leaman.” What does that mean? Is that the way to enlightenment?)

  • Oh.dear.God. “A chocolate pony that shits M&Ms.”

    I was laughing so hard that my fiance kept looking at my funny and peering at my laptop to try and find the source of hilarity.

    Also? I despise the dentist. Hate. Loathe. Refuse to go to the point of living with serious wisdom tooth pain just because I HATE THEM THAT MUCH. I know, I’m an idiot. When I finally get off my ass and go there damn well better be a week in Cancun with Dora waiting for me when I’m done.

  • Ah, I love the dentist. Don’t relate to this. I guess I’m JUST so brave. 😀

    This story reminds me of the Arthur episode where D.W. HATESHATESHATES spinach! She haaaaates spinach! It turns people into green spinach heads! She’ll never eat it, NEVER EVER! Then, they go to a restaurant and she has spinach pie without knowing it and she loves it and asks the waiter what it is and he says, “Spinach” (You knew that was coming, didn’t you? You’re so smart! 🙂 and the family GASPS in anticipation of her giant 4-year old tantrum that will be heard many Celestial planets away, and she’s all, “What? I love spinach.” Like, duh.

    Arthur is soooo much better than Dora. You should look into it.

    Love ya.

  • I am deathly afraid of the dentist and have the teeth to prove it. So whenever I wanted to get my son to go to the dentist or to brush his teeth, I would just scare him into it by showing him my teeth. “You don’t want to end up looking like THIS do you??” Worked every time.

  • Anonymous

    This is strictly a suggestion, but maybe if you guys didn’t make such a big deal out of it, she wouldn’t either? It sounds like she acts like this for attention more than anything else and you guys feed into it. Maybe out of guilt for not paying more attention to her? Children will act like that a lot of the time when they’re not receiving the attention they need/require/thrive on. Her light will only glow so bright on her own…alone… as much as it sounds she is during the day. Just a suggestion. Good luck.

  • Christina

    You and John really fit the model of “good-fit parenting”. If only everyone respected their children as much as you do. Leta is a lucky girl.

    Also, this has to be one of the most hilarious posts I’ve ever read.

  • Hilarious! I love it!!

  • My youngest daughter is about 6 months younger then Leta and while she loves brushing her teeth (Princess toothbrushes help)I fear having to bring her to the dentist. I can just imagine the imploding of her world when they want to poke around in her mouth.

    Also…I love the drunk you. My husband couldn’t figure out why I was laughing hysterically and could barely breathe enough to tell him what was so funny. It reminds me so much of me when I wake up the next morning wondering what happened.

  • I think I agree with Anonymous – it sounds like she is looking for attention. Go the ignore tactic.

  • That’s funny, I call my dentist The Little Shop of Horrors, and not just because it’s The Dentist. Because it really is. It’s low-rent dentistry. I went there because my last dentist was so fancy that a cleaning charge exceeded what my shitty insurance would pay. So I found a cheaper one. WAY cheaper. Then I didn’t have insurance. Kept going. Now I’m addicted to the pain.

    Plus, they don’t seem to think I need a crown and every other dentist does. Therefore, my Little Shop of Horrors dentist is the smartest dentist in town.

  • I live in a third world country, and your dentist is right, I do not have all of my teeth. I blame my orthodontist *stares meaningfully* she talked me into it. and I did not get a Pocahontas toothbrush out of it *sigh*

  • Ked

    priceless…every detail is just priceless as always

    P.S. my captcha is “roundly Isaac”. I’ve been looking for a good band name for a while now, and I think I’ve finally found it.

  • My God – I think I have had that EXACT same night, right down to the cab ride (“Bumpy!”) and the amnesia-chips (except for me it was Pringles… mmm, Pringles).

    Oh yeh, and I *didn’t* miss the nightstand. Which, let me tell you, was even sexier.

  • Lori W

    I love to read about your day because then it keeps me from killing my 18-year old who has spent a nanosecond at college (she’s been there since the 21st) who now wants permission to drive home 9 1/2hours EACH way to see her boyfriend who works a dead end job and won’t go to college. But her story is “mom, dad I want to come home for the long weekend and be with you and shop for clothes for my work-study job and if you loved me you would let me do it because if I get killed on the road because of the SNOW storm they are expecting in Idaho I will still died happy knowing that you love me and that you let me see Zach.

    Keep writing Heather because I need a shot of vodka and to read…

  • StampyDurst

    This post and the comments touched so many “nerves” (pun totally intended) with me. When I was a child, our “pediatric dentist” told my parents my teeth were decalcifying and needed to be capped (lovely silver caps – yes, I was called “Oscar the Grouch” for years) to prevent me from needing braces. No anesthesia. But my loyalty was bought with cheap plastic rings from an equally cheap plastic treasure chest. I, too, was a young whore for swag.

    Several years later, I needed to have four teeth pulled before I got the braces I’d been tortured to avoid. Ain’t reality a bitch? I got some good drugs for that one, and regained conciousness clutching a highlights magazine giggling over Goofus and Gallant at the mature age of 14. I then spent two years picking chick-fil-a buns out of my braces.

    I ended up with beautiful, straight, white teeth. So straight, in fact, that I was once “inflagrante delecto” (sp?) when the guy looked up at me at a crucial moment and asked “Are those your real teeth?” Passion killer for sure.

    The unfortunate addendum to this story is that during this whole time, I get getting “prophylactic fillings” for “deep crevices” caused by the apparently horrid “decalcification”. Several years later, one of these prophylactic fillings cracked and led me to a root canal. My wondrous teeth apparently had an accessory nerve that they couldn’t figure out how to numb, so I felt them drill out every nerve. Egads. The dentist’s assistant left the room crying at how much pain I was in. So i just about pissed myself when I read, “Mr. Rogers has never had a root canal.”

    That being said, I didn’t cry. When it was over, however, I looked at the dentist and asked, “Don’t I get to pick something from the treasure chest?”

  • What happened to the treasure chest at the dentists? That was the best part by far…

    Too bad at age 6 I looked forward to treasure chests at the dentist but now my life is more like your drunken night at the music festival. Maybe I should go to the dentist?

  • Your day was much like mine yesterday when I took my mother in law to the hairdresser and to lunch for her 90th birthday. I don’t know when I’ll ever get over it.

  • I could barely read that because I am so afraid of the dentist even your daughter going stresses me out.

  • Oh man. I feel your pain. Good news that she finally consented and it was a good experience. We had to go to a pediatric dentist because our daughter would not be examined by our regular dentist. Good for all of you!

  • I get to take my oldest monkey for his first appointment this week. After his first day of kindergarten. Because the world isn’t cruel enough.

  • Kat

    Brave Leta, I HATE going to the dentist, too. Hate it. Then the insult at the end of all that pain and scraping is to have to pay money for the privilege, who thought up that one?

  • My 17 year old son very nearly faints every time he has to go see the dentist. Spiders of any sort also have that effect on him.

    But he still goes to the dentist, albeit complaining all the way, and he will deal with a spider if his sister isn’t available to do so 😉

    And thanks for the princess toothbrush thing… **hatches nefarious plan**

  • about the age of your leta, i started looking for a pediatric dentist for my son – since all personal hygiene was cruel and unusual punishment I knew i had to get ahead of the game if this kid was going to school – the dental exam was required. leta would have adored the decor because it was filled with disney animation cell drawings ( is that how you say that ? ) Many MANY princess ones, lion king, winnie the pooh – yet the very best part was the actual dentist who was enough of a goofball that my kids immediately related to him and my kids literally giggled through their appointments – i will add this one detail – this guy had the worst hair implants known to man, in later yrs my kids both told me they use to count the “plugs” while having their teeth cleaned and compare numbers later. I think that’s classic

    My son went to him until he was 18 yrs old!!

  • Oh, the trauma. If you think the dentist causes you anxiety,wait ’til you have a 13 yr old high school freshman cheering on the varsity squad. Jon, all I’m gonna say is spanky pants and mini skirt. My wife won’t let me within 600 yards of the high school. Anything less than that and I might end up on CNN.

  • My friend’s dog eats toothbrushes. So you could use the “I’ll let Coco eat your princess toothbrush if you don’t…right now!” line. You know, to keep her in line.

  • CapableGirl

    I love when Leta talks about “her kids.” It is so cute.

  • Don’t get too smug lady cuz you just wait until X-ray time where even the promise of a transformer did not stop my son from gagging and then barfing up the cardboard gag when it touched his uvula (i so used to get that mixed up with vulva). So, yeah, no x-rays for him.

  • When I was little I HYPERVENTILATED & PASSED OUT at the dentist when I saw his spit guard mask, which reminded me of the anesthesia mask I had to wear for my EAR TUBE SURGERY. No princess toothbrush for that one.

  • If I had only known that Princess toothbrushes were the keys to getting my daughter to sleep, I would have bought one ages ago…

  • April

    That’s just great!!! The princess toothbrush does it everytime!!! You had me LOLing in real life, thanks!!!

  • winewife

    I used to be a hygienist before I decided that staying home with the children was WAY more fulfilling. I took my daughter in to have her teeth cleaned on Tuesday (not by me). My daughter has never felt fear in any situation in her life (so unlike Mommy) and every person is just a friend she hasn’t met yet. She thought getting her teeth cleaned was winning the lottery and no princess toothbrushes were required, although she thought the little pink hourglass for timing brushing was AMAZING! That night going to bed I asked her what her favorite part of the day was and, at first, she said, “Getting my teeth cleaned”. Then she paused and said, “No, EVERYTHING is my favorite!” I would give alot to have a piece of that mindset…

  • Hooray for breakthroughs! Yea, Leta!

  • I hate the fucking dentist.

  • jiru

    Yeah, Leta! That’s awesome. I’m so proud of your brave girl. My kiddo thinks the treasure chest full of plastic crap and stickers she gets to choose from after the cleaning is the most wonderful thing ever.

  • I love that tactic for getting her to brush her teeth, I’m going to have to try that with mine.

    I wonder if princess toilet paper will help me potty train, while I’m at it, a princess mop and bucket might not be too much to ask for also.

    Do they sell working princess vaccums?

  • Christy Wood

    Leta reminds me so much of my daughter, who is almost three. I’ve been following this blog for a couple of years now and it’s like I get a free preview of what I am about to go through.

    We’ve already gone through the appointment where the dentist was all, “ummm…maybe she doesn’t need her teeth cleaned,” then ran as fast as she could away from us. This gives me hope that when my daughter is ready, she will allow her teeth to be cleaned.

    And I was very teared up at the part where she was asking to go to bed at 5:30 so she could brush her teeth.

    Congrats on a successful visit!

  • Joe

    It is such a great day when you see your child make such an advance. What a great post Heather.

  • Hysterically funny.

    Somehow I’ve managed to go all this time without knowing what a dooce was. I’m am now forever enlightened and will be back for more!

  • Ahh, the power of fancy toothbrushes. I bribe my kids into brushing by buying them tooth tunes that play their favorite disney channel stars while they brush. It works great!

  • Jaime

    Shouldn’t that title be “Leta Shop of Horrors”?

  • #99

    I think we all need t-shirts that say….

    “Do you Dooce?”

    I’m totally, shamelessly addicted and talk to my family about you all like I know you–like I’ve been to your house, scratched behind Chuck’s ears, twirled Leta around in her tunic dress, and helped Jon drain the edamame.

    Thanks for making the world a little brighter.

    I Dooce. I surely do!

  • I am so asking for a chocolate pony that shits M&M’s for Christmas.

  • I LOVE this story!!! It made me smile at the end. And the rest make me nod my head in sympathy as I have two little girls that I’ve had to drag to the dentist and the dread each time the appt arrives is horrendous!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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