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.

  • We must be opposites because one morning I woke up at my house in the country, 30 minutes away from downtown, where I’d been the night before, wearing only pants and one sock with no memory of the previous night. How I got back there is still one of the great mysteries of my life.
    Then again, I’m not wearing pants right now so maybe we’re not complete opposites.

  • OMG, I wish there was a magic transformer/spongebob or something toothbrush that would get my boys that excited about brushing their teeth. We are all terrified of the evil doctor of teeth. My dentist prescribes me xanax just to get me in the door and is usually nice enough to gas me during the experience too.

  • Bibi

    I am in agreement with Julie, #140. Nicely put.

    We took the “it’s got to be done” business-like approach with our daughter when she began getting her teeth cleaned. She went to our dentist – no balloons, no treasure chest of treats – just go in and get it done.

    This was fine, until my daughter needed to have a cavity filled. I had mistakenly scheduled a pediatrician appointment the day before (where she received a vaccination booster), so when the dentist came at her with the injection prior to doing any work, well…let’s just say we were given a referral to a pediatric dentist.

    Power to the swag!

  • “Chocolate pony that shits M&Ms”?! Well done, madam.

  • Bibi

    Oh, and one more thing – because I just saw the ‘Daily Chuck’ and had to comment on the love.

    The sweetness of the photo and the pull on the heart strings that comes from seeing a child sick aside (although my 11-year old is sick today with the stomach flu and reinacting the same pose, only with Spooky the cat), that couch and blanket look wicked comfy! The couch looks like it as soft as the blanket. Sheesh! Why’d I let my husband talk me into getting leather?

  • piglet

    if i say this was funny, you’ll believe me right? you won’t think “yeah, that’s what a billion other people said”? you two made a beautiful baby.

    i took my son from a very early age with me to almost every dentist appt in the hope that he would not be afraid when his time came. he was afraid, but once they started complimenting him, he became ten feet tall and bulletproof, later bragging to his friends about how EASY the dentist is.

  • Jen

    Ugh! I’ve been anticipating the Thom Yorke close-up and the moments after where I keel over and die of jealousy.

    Way to go, Leta-here’s to dental hygiene!

  • For so long I had it easy. Karen did my dental work. I never cried once.
    Yesterday I got a call. “We’ve had some restructuring at the office Karen is no longer –”
    I dropped the phone. And cried like a big fat baby.

  • Heather, you write beautifully all the time but this post is particularly wonderful. In fact, it’s darn near perfect.

    You and Jon are exceptional parents. You truly are. Tell those buttheads who give you a hard time that I said that. Because that will totally shut them up.

  • Oh, how you make me laugh and cry!

    Thanks for that. 🙂

  • My mom always bribed me with Dairy Queen or Taco Bell. Got me through it every time!

  • Leta hasn’t gotten the word about the Bippitty Boppitty Boutique in downtown Disney has she?? lol

  • Haven’t read all the other comments but your new threat to Leta should be:-

    Do “Insert whatever you want her to do here” or else I am giving your Disney Princess Toothbrush to Coco.

    She will be your tiny human slave . . .

  • Peter Parent

    Oh my goodness…

    Thanks for introducing me to the act ‘Stars.’ They take me back to the advent of the whole ‘New Wave’ thingy. I (at the advanced age of 49) am always looking for an advanced take on whatever (emo or otherwise) new music comes out. Also, I love your blog.. You make every day personal and fresh. Keep on keepin’ on Heather.

  • SuZieQ

    Where can I get me one of those QUEEN toothbrushes?? I must have one..

    …and also the pony!!

  • Kathie

    I too loathed the dentist, until I came across my current provider. She is a goddess. Her practice is made up of all women – cute, perky, swift and competent technicians dressed in variations on white lab coats (none of those hideous purple Hello Kitty knock-off scrubs) and wielding cozy chenille throws and cutting-edge personal sound equipment. The best part is the adult equivalent of the princess toothbrush – at the end, if I’ve been a good patient, I get to dip my hands into a warm vat of lavender infused parafin wax. H-e-a-v-e-n.

  • I’d say count yourself lucky. Our 3-year-old freaks out when *we* try to brush her teeth (we let her start out and then have to help her actually brush the teeth after she’s done with her part). She wouldn’t sit still for the dentist — not for all the princess toothbrushes in China. And that’s where they come from.

  • I adore the dentist (yes, I’m weird like that), but I swear it’s because I had the BEST pediatric dentist in the universe when I was a kid in the 70’s, Dr. Edison Beebe, he had a HUGE bookcase in the lobby filled to the brim w/ toys and stickers, etc. and when you were done getting your teeth cleaned, you got to pick whatever you wanted (only ONE thing though of course, this was way before the years of bratty children taking handfuls of stuff and their parents letting them). Anyway, I digress. Suffice to say, my daughter Declan, who turned two in June hasn’t yet been to the dentist. I’m told it’s too soon. But I’m so afraid she won’t like it.

    Crossing my fingers, toes, and eyes that she’ll behave herself just like your sweet and darling girl child. I guess I can at least console myself that at present, she loves to brush her teeth w/ her princess toothbrush (yes, she has a princess toothbrush – against my better Tom Boy judgment).


    C ~(@jasperblu)

  • SuZieQ

    Laughing so at the post I forgot to check out photos..Just remembered…picture of Chuck and Leta proves that my undying and obsessive love for dogs is absolutely justified!!

  • “Just go ahead and send her to the Celestial Kingdom and give her her own planet, why don’t you?”

    Oh Heather, your amusingly mocking remarks are the best!

  • Me and my daughter just read this post and were rolling with laughter. Seriously, we couldn’t stop laughing, and we were literally rolling around the room on the floor. Carpet burns. Okay, seriously, totally a situation we know about. I don’t think we ever had princess toothbrushes, for us it was the strawberry shortcake toothpaste that was necessary for survival.

  • Kate

    I’m listening to Elevator Love Letter and looove it. I think you should create a Dooce Soundtrack so we, the musically underprivileged, and get a taste of your taste (which I’m coming to love). Even if you just list the songs. Or you could strike a deal with iTunes to sell the compilation and make the big bucks.

    Just a thought 🙂

    Congrats on dental success!

  • Cora’s Mom

    I just took my 4 year old to the dentist for her first cleaning too. She was all brave until it was time to open her mouth and she started crying. And then she did just what Leta did. Cora got a pink Spongebob toothbrush. You would have thought she won the lottery.

  • This brought me back to my childhood years going to the dentist. And oh man, did I ever love getting a new toothbrush AND stickers. Sometimes even some kind of cheeseball vending-machine-esque toy. Those were the days.

  • The only way I made it through the heavy excavation of my childhood years was the “sweet gas”. Without nitrous oxide, you can be sure that my teeth would have fallen out. Now, dentists don’t even use it. Not even a whipcream can around on standby!

    I’m glad I grew up in the time of drugs. So is my dentist.

  • Erica

    I have a 6 yr old son and a 3 yr old daughter. Somewhere along the line in our crazy life, my son got it in his head that I coveted my daughter’s princess toothbrush. So he conspired with his grandma, and he got me my OWN princess toothbrush for my next birthday. It was the sweetest thing ever. You bet your ass I brushed my teeth with that thing every chance I got.

  • I have to go to the dentist in a couple of weeks…I hope I get a princess toothbrush. Although I’m sure I won’t deserve one. please visit to my blog

  • Oh that’s too funny. I hate the dentist but a princess toothbrush would be a nice incentive. =) I’m probably way too late on this but Coco is adorable. I’ve had 2 Australian shepherds and they’re crazy!

  • The last time I took Miss Diva to the dentist she thought she was going to “die”. It took me, the hygentist, and the dentist an hour to get her calm down enough to let him pull a tooth that really needed to come out. Now, four months later she doesn’t remember the hour of begging, just the pink toothbrush, pink timer, pink floss, and princess sticker she got as a reward. But I must add the first item of clothing to come off for me is not the pants, but the dreaded “bra”!

  • You should be able to appreciate this. For when then horror continues…

    Michael Phelps and the egg.

  • I liked reading this- it reminded me of my recent trip to the dentist with my four year old!!!!

  • moondoggie

    Our family was military, so we got military dentists most of the time–they used me to ‘practice’ on, I’m sure, as my teeth are mostly crown$ now but my gums are perfect, and I’ll never need dentures.

    Our ‘hometown’ dentist didn’t give out stickers or toothbrushes–he gave out whistle lollipops, thus guaranteeing him our repeat business. And my sister and I fell for it, of course…

  • I love your shit. You can tell we came from the same region…well, region/school/frickin’ volleyball team.

    My son goes to a pediatric dental office. You should check out Dr. Brad in Memphis. Seriously, if you travel and are in emergency need of a cleaning–he’s your man. Ask for Daphne.

    They have tv’s at every chair, playing Princess movies and robot movies, and some others by request. The lights overhead are draped with stuffed animals, and they give each kid a pair of princess/robot/superhero toothbrush. It’s a gd dental theme-park.

    E goes in there, gathers a crowd, and sings his very perfect version of the Smokey and the Bandit song. It’s quite the spectacle.

  • I love your shit. You can tell we came from the same region…well, region/school/frickin’ volleyball team.

    My son goes to a pediatric dental office. You should check out Dr. Brad in Memphis. Seriously, if you travel and are in emergency need of a cleaning–he’s your man. Ask for Daphne.

    They have tv’s at every chair, playing Princess movies and robot movies, and some others by request. The lights overhead are draped with stuffed animals, and they give each kid a pair of princess/robot/superhero sunglasses. It’s a gd dental theme-park.

    E goes in there, gathers a crowd, and sings his very perfect version of the Smokey and the Bandit song. It’s quite the spectacle.

  • That horse / M&M thing would totally work at my house.

    Our ped. dentist shows movies, has MP3 players w/ kid music, video games to play while they’re cleaning, sunglasses so the light doesn’t bug you, & candy flavored rubber gloves.

    I’m slightly jealous.

  • J. Bo

    I was ten years old before I realized that other kids’ moms didn’t give them their vaccinations (my mom and three aunts were nurses and half my uncles were doctors; now I’m surrounded by cousins who are doctors/nurses/lab techs… such family dinner conversations you DON’T want to hear). Consequently, visits to medical/dental offices were no big deal to me– it usually involved family or people I thought of as family. Seeing the doctor/dentist was just what you DO… like flushing; it’s normal and expected.

    Then again, in MY household, “playing doctor” meant washing up for dinner with PhisoHex and a fine nail brush, so I realize I’m really no one to judge…

  • Anonymous

    dental visits- wow – my daughter has had no issues yet- she is still loving her dental visits but she is having issues with shots at the pediatrician now that she knows they hurt and knows when the doc is giving them.

  • Thanks for the warning, I have a 2.5 yr old who hasn’t been. I can see the Princess Toothbrush being a great motivational tool. Hmmm maybe I should buy one beforehand in case my dentist isn’t as intuitive.

    Wish we had such great Music fests here in North Florida, – they would need to be in Oct or April though, not summertime.

  • Why am I crying right now? I don’t have kids, I revile the Disney princesses and the dentist makes me itchy too. I might have to give up the Radiohead and alcohol too.

  • We have our 10 yr old sedated. And the regular dentist recommended a pediatric dentist in our area that deals with problem children… the place was all designed for children and she didn’t freak out one bit.

    Plus I’ve learned it’s best not to prep her for things she freaks out about. because if we do, she freaks out more.

  • I am a total dentalphobe, and was attracted to the dentist I will have for the rest of my life no matter where I may move by the sign he had plastered on his front door: a Ziggy-type character hiding behind a dentist’s chair with the motto, “We cater to cowards.” He gives me “sweet air” (nitrous) for every procedure (cleanings if I want it) and is as wonderful as can possibly be. His name is Dr. Kenneth Magid and his website is N.B. I use an electric Hello Kitty toothbrush. I am 40.

  • i’ll let the dentist have his way with me for a chocolate pony that shits m&m’s!

  • Cat

    To which she looked at you with her best little Steve Martin impression and said “Oh, momma.”

  • Cat

    To which she looked at you with her best little Steve Martin impression and said “Oh, momma.”

  • I dread the dentist so much myself that I too have put off taking my 4 year old to the dentist. My husband keeps bugging me to make an appointment for her and I keep saying ‘you love the dentist so much, you do it’ and the appointment never gets made.

    But, alas, it must be done and I will keep the m&m shitting pony’s and cancun trips with Dora in my back pocket. My daughter would lie down in front of a bus to eat m&ms on a pony with Dora.

  • LOL maybe I should mention this disney princess brush to my son who’s newest one (a musical model that plays the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song) only holds interest for its melodic value. There’s no getting near his teeth with it, not in this lifetime (but I’m afraid if I offered the disney princess version, my husband would be the one not letting it near his mouth) 😉

  • Ride the Disney Princess wave as long as you can because the next thing you know they’re begging for a hideous and overpriced Bratz ice cream maker at Target and singing Hannah Montana (the same damn song mind you) over and over again and you’ll really miss those princess years.

    I think I’ll go cry now.

  • Jennifah

    Disney Princesses rule in regard to tooth brushing. We actually have an Ariel “electric” (battery operated) that she uses at night and a Hello Kitty for the morning, plus a myriad of other toothbrushes acquired in trips to various locales and dammit if she doesn’t remember where each one comes from! My daughter loves the dentist, don’t ask me why – but she’ll be spending a lot of time there since she’s all teeth with no room to put them in her tiny little mouth cavity.

    Here in the northeast, a summertime treat is the cob of corn – wait and try flossing the very small baby teeth of a very mouthy 5-6-7- year old without making the gums bleeds – takes nerves of steel. Floss, I don’t even floss my own teeth, but the kid requests it after every cob. Freak.

    I’m happy you could at least find your pants.

  • jen

    My mom is queen of reverse psychology, ranging from pretending to hide while eating yogurt to insinuate that it was so good she didn’t want to share, to hyping up the first dentist appointment as if it were… I dunno, a trip to Disney World. It helped that my dentist and his hygienists have always been great with kids, and I still see the same dentist, all these years later.

  • jm

    Love the pic of TC from Stars. Such a fan of the whole arts&crafts crew and profile bloggers who organically elevate artists like you do with Stars, Bon I., etc. 😀

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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