Le Dentiste

Every six months I get to visit the dentist for what they call a “Check Up”, but we all know it is much more than that.images-2

They start off with the chit chat. How was your day? How are the boys? Are you back to work this year? Oh, kindergarten? How nice. This is all just to put you at ease before they ask about their hidden agenda. The answer to “How many cups of coffee do you drink”  is, “Mind your own business”. 

I’m quite certain that dental teams attend a workshop in “mhmmm”. There are many different meanings behind all those little “mhmmms” and it is up to those of us on the receiving end to interpret them:

Option A: “not too bad, just a little plaque, well it has been six months”

Option B: “more tartar than I’d like to see, but it’s on those back teeth, that’s tricky”

Option C: “ok, no flossing has been happening here”

Option D: “The horror! I will be using every sharp tool I have on this tray”

We know, dental hygienists, we know.

Dentists and hygienists have also mastered the art of shaming:

“I’m sorry I have to keep going back to this spot, but there is just SO MUCH plaque.”

“Do you floss? Ever?”

“Here, hold this mirror and watch while I show you how you are supposed to floss, *dummy.”

Next comes the polishing stage which is almost the worst (fluoride rinse is the worst, and needs no further discussion). She’s polishing and rinsing and polishing and rinsing and I do my best to be a good patient, but all I can think is: “DON’T YOU SEE I AM DROWNING ON MY OWN SALIVA?! THAT SPIT SUCKER THING IS NOT A DECORATION – GET THE SPIT! GET THE SPIT!”

Okay, the worst is mostly over, but this visit I noticed a new tool. No, not the tiny instruments of torture they use for plaque removal, a Sales Tool. I’m guessing our dentist office recently bought shares in SonicCare’s parent company because as I’m getting poked, prodded, and scraped, she keeps reminding me that an electric toothbrush would considerably reduce all that plaque and make cleaning easier. When I don’t grunt agreement, she seems to find a little extra something that needs scraping on my already tender baby tooth (I still have 3 of them). Well, played, hygienist.

But the dental team is not the only one with a plan. I’m pretty wily myself (comes with being the youngest of four). You can’t just floss the night before, that’s no good. Floss once or twice a few days beforehand. Then you can truthfully say, “Well, I don’t floss EVERY day…” and trail off, just like that (take a second and practice, I’ll wait). Also, flossing a few days ahead of time will reduce the bleeding and toughen up those gums a bit. It builds stamina, trust me.

If you’re lucky and don’t have any cavities or abnormalities, don’t cheer or say “really?!” that just tips your hand. Maintain a cool veneer like you fully expected the appointment to go that way, because you are a flosser who drinks just the right amount of coffee and does not eat Sweet Tarts or Zingy Zaps before bed. Ever.

(*Dummy is said with the eyes, pay attention.)

So, what’s your deal? How often do you floss? (nevermind, no matter what, I’m going to assume you are lying).

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Exercise: It’s Hard

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Exercise is hard.

That’s obvious, I know. But really, it’s hard.

Finding the time is hard. Wanting to find the time is harder.

I plan to work out, but then there is a super funny post on Facebook with these animals saying hilarious things with British accents.  Can’t pass that up, and doubtful I’ll remember to watch it later.

Ok, I’ll get out for a morning run. I’m a firm believer that you really need to have that first cup of coffee to start the day right. And you can’t run on an empty stomach, so better eat some breakfast first. The 3 year old has all his Little People set up waiting to play with me. I can’t say “no” to him. Maybe later.

Riding the bike tonight could work. Well, the things is, I really want to eat my M&Ms in peace while I instant message with people I just spoke with 3 hours earlier.  Coworker friends matter.

I’d have more time to exercise if my library book wasn’t due tomorrow. Gotta avoid those fines, I’ve already racked up quite a few.

I could just do that 20 minute DVD workout. Twenty minutes is manageable. Oh! But I need to call my sister back before she thinks I’m avoiding her. And then there’s a candy crushing game I need to play, wouldn’t want to let my fellow gamers down.

Alright, I can do a sprint around the neighbourhood right after dinner. Wait! Canadian Tire has asked me to fill out this survey and I might win an iPod. Think of the great things I could do with that iPod. It’s for the boys. Let’s think of the boys.

Exercise is important and good for me. Then again, so is quality time with my husband. I know! We could workout together! Yes! But he’s in better shape than I am. I don’t want to hold him back.

Alright, alright. Guess I just have to make the time. And I will. Tomorrow.

So, I married David Suzuki

I did not know this at the time, but I married David Suzuki.

You might be thinking, “now, wait a second. David Suzuki the 77 year old environmental activist and host of ‘The Nature of Things’? The guy with the PhD in zoology? Retired Professor of genetics?”

Ok, not him exactly, but a younger version.

Wait, before you dismiss my assertion, hear me out. There are a couple of key similarities that must be noted: They are both bearded Canadians who speak Japanese, have appeared on the CBC, and work to stop climate change.

Alright, Bearded Husband doesn’t speak Japanese. Ok, ok, he hasn’t appeared on the CBC, either. And although he doesn’t work to stop climate change, he does really care about the environment. For real. Kind of to the point of being irritating.

Agh! Yes, I admit it, sometimes being married to David Suzuki is hard. Now, some of his Suzuki-ist tendencies are acceptable and even worth doing. Recycling, composting, choosing energy saving products. I can’t say I was thrilled to get geo-thermal installed with a newborn baby in the house, but in the long run it has been well worth it. Solar panels installed on the roof 2 years later with a different newborn in the house, also bad timing, but worth it. And I was the one who suggested we go with cloth diapers.

My friends, here’s the reality of life with a David Suzuki-ist. He doesn’t like the fridge door to be left open EVER. Watch your limbs. He also doesn’t appreciate having extra lights left on so eat a lot of carrots and walk carefully after sunset. And don’t even think about running the dishwasher when it’s not off-peak time (ok, that’s more of a budget thing and an entirely different post).

But the worst part…

is…

…the…

…WAITING.

In an effort to be environmentally friendly, many purchases and decisions need to be thoroughly researched. We’re talking weeks worth of time. To buy eco-friendly paint. To replace the water softener with a salt-free alternative. To replace the chlorine filter for the pool. This is very difficult for an impulse-buyer such as myself. As a shopper, I am inclined to think, “Hey! That looks convenient – the skull and crossbones symbol is really just a friendly suggestion.”

But as much as I might joke and complain about my marriage to young David Suzuki, I appreciate how much he cares about his family and the planet, and the example he sets for our boys (and even for me). It’s worth the wait.

Gloomus the Sketchy Cat

Gloomus the Sketchy Cat

Hey. Yeah, I see you there, looking at me. What’s up?

I know I don’t live here. You’ve made your anti-pet policy perfectly clear, but you know what? I like your porch and on your porch I will stay.

About that policy. What’s wrong with a pet or two? Word in the neighbourhood is that you already have like 10 kids living here, so what’s one little cat added to the mix?

Oh, you’re “allergic”. Got it. Ever heard of antihistamines? They were made just for that ailment. Start stocking up, they’re on sale at Walmart this week.

Don’t even try using the “we can’t afford to feed a cat” excuse. Do you see how scrawny I am? I’ll just eat whatever falls on the floor. We both know your kids are messy eaters.

I know your not-so-secret fear of mice. I’m sure we can come up with a mutally beneficial arrangement.

Come on, everyone gets a little itchy now and then. YOU scratch behind your ear, but that doesn’t mean YOU have fleas. Give a cat a chance.

The bald patch on my tail is nothing to concern yourself with, and frankly, I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s just say that sometimes a cat has to take a stand and we’ll leave it at that.

What? This? Oh, this catnip isn’t mine – I’m just holding it for a friend.

Now, let’s talk accommodations…

Quality Time

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This picture could be the catalyst for one of two posts.

The first option is one where I write about how life is so busy and it’s important to let things like basic housekeeping slide sometimes in order to spend more quality time with your kids. It’s all about priorities. They are only young once, you’ll never get this time back. Really, what’s more important: a clean living room or playing Lego with your boys? We moms have to sacrifice our own pride in our homes in order to nurture these little people placed in our care.

This is not that post.

I’m going with the second option, or what I call “The Truth”.

It was Friday night, I had some shows to catch up on the PVR. Chips were consumed. M&Ms may or may not have been involved. I did a lot of socializing via my phone. It was too late to wake up the boys to get them to do it (something I intend to remedy today).

It really is all about priorities.

What I Learned from Ron the Auto Shop Guy

Today I faced one of my biggest fears. Okay, two. Alright a lot. A lot of fears.

I had to ride with Ron the Auto Shop Guy to pick up my car from the mechanic.

First of all, just going to any type of repair or auto body shop raises many stress-inducing questions:

  • Where do I park? Right at the bay? In the courtesy area? (It’s NOT obvious)
  • Do I take the keys with me or leave them in the ignition?
  • Will they ask a lot of questions? (my answers are limited to: “It just started going click click click-click” or “I swear I didn’t leave the lights on”).

And don’t start throwing around fancy mechanic terms like “switch” or “hood”. My eyes will glaze over and I will just nod (and it’s not a nod of understanding).

Even just paying the invoice causes my stomach to tighten. Do I wait for someone to come to the till or should I cough loudly? There is no sign outlining proper procedure. And once he takes out the pen to start going through the itemized list I just go to my happy place (it’s M&Ms, always M&Ms).

Second, I detest awkward silences. Riding in my own car with a stranger at the wheel is quite possibly the longest 12 minutes of my life. If it hadn’t been raining today, we would have had 11 minutes of silence instead of 10 due to lack of subject matter.

But today I had a realization. Silence does not always need to be filled. I KNOW. Complete mind shift. I was raised to chat up hairdressers, grocery clerks, bank tellers, and strangers waiting in line along with me. All it takes are a few generic questions and a friendly smile.

Maybe it’s because Ron had the heat a bit high, or the rain was particularly soothing streaming down the window, or it might have been that the wiper blades were especially hypnotic, I don’t know, but about 3 minutes into the drive I was feeling mellow and I realized a few things:

  1. I don’t care if Ron is from here originally or moved here as a youth
  2. I don’t care how long Ron has been a mechanic
  3. I don’t need to know his thoughts on the rain or the forecast for the week

This new found sense of calm was quickly replaced, however, with some very real questions and concerns:

  1. What if I get gassy?
  2. What if RON gets gassy?

Today’s real life lesson: just talk to Ron, keep that chit-chat going at all costs.

5 Minute Misconduct

5 Minute Misconduct

Oh, so sweet. Look at that little toddler sitting there. Adorable.

Do not be deceived.

Sure, he looks so innocent with his chubby little hands in his lap. But behind those wide eyes lies a cunning little mind hatching all kinds of plans for mayhem.

Don’t be silly, I know he isn’t saying full sentences yet, but I know. Trust me.

In less than two years, he has learned the “I’m not touching you” manoeuvre. A recent addition to his repertoire is the tried and true “I didn’t actually knock your block tower down, but the block I am holding might have been involved” technique.

What has that got to do with this picture, you ask?

On this particular morning, he was irritated with his 5 year old brother’s redirection and threw his plastic bridge across the room.

“No throwing,” I said.

“No,” he replied and promptly put himself on the step for a penalty. Misbehaved AND removed sibling’s chance at retribution all in one move. That kid is an evil genius.

The Manual

There are many well-meaning parenting books to be found. I thought I might try my hand at a book that really helps new parents know what to expect in the toddler and preschool years. Here’s my rough outline so far.

Kids: The Owner’s Manual

Chapter 1 – Favourite Preschooler Games

  • Are the Lights On or Off?
  • I’m done on the toilet. Wait, no, I’m not
  • Guess What I’d Like On My Sandwich?

Chapter 2 – Clothing Issues

  • Zip my Coat, But Not Too High
  • My Sock Feels Weird
  • If It’s Not Blue I’m Not Wearing It
  • Snow Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Wear Crocs

Chapter 3 – Psychological Warfare

  • I Know I Ate that Yesterday, So What?
  • It’s Your Fault You Can’t Understand What I’m Saying

Chapter 4 – The Hidden Enemy

  • Marker Lids
  • Stickers
  • Juice Boxes – I’ll Squeeze Them If I Like

Chapter 5 – Personal Space: Why You Don’t Need It

What other chapters would you recommend?

Dr. Google

Self-diagnosis can save you a lot of unnecessary time in medical offices and those bothersome things like “medical diagnosis” and “prescription medication”. But it doesn’t always work in your favour. Trust me.

I am a big believer in googling any and all medical issues.

Wake up and can’t raise my left arm comfortably? Google it.

Suspicious my eyebrows are not symmetrical? Google it – there must be a serious medical condition causing that. Recent attempt at self-grooming is irrelevant.

Baby suddenly does not like bananas? We must check Google should it be a rare tropical disease he picked up at the park.

But even I draw the line at self-diagnosing broken bones. My bearded husband, however, does not.

“You know, I worked in a clinic for years. I think I’d know if it was broken.” Yes, I would think that. And I’d be wrong.

Last summer, in a fit of rage at the former owners of our house and their questionable gardening choices, he ripped up a metal rail (it also goes by some more colourful names). In disgust, he tossed it on the patio and did some other outdoor maintenance. A short while later, he jogged through the yard to get a tool and tripped over the cursed rail, landed face first with his left index finger taking the most impact.

Concerned about the swelling and immobility, I gently suggested he see the doctor, a real one.

“Nope, just gonna ice it, I’ll be fine.”

A few days later, I suggested it again, since this injury was seriously limiting his diaper-changing abilities. And dishwashing.

“It’s fine. See I can bend it a bit.”

The finger inspired imitations by the boys. “Look, I’m Daddy opening the jam.” “Look, I’m Daddy changing the radio station.” All this was done with the offending finger extended gingerly. It was top notch material that was lost on Bearded Husband.

A few months passed and finally he agreed that a visit to the doctor might be necessary. One x-ray later it was revealed that the finger was broken. Shocking.

That diagnosis was life-changing. Now we needed to schedule in time for Finger Physiotherapy. It’s a real thing. A “one hour, twice a week” kind of real thing.

Until they come up with google.com/bodyscan, trust me, go see the doctor.

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Code Brown

If I had known 8 years ago what I know now….I’d still have four boys, but I’d be much more prepared.

When you’re expecting a baby you hear the stories from friends and sisters of spit-ups, leaks, and explosions. You think you are prepared. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

A brand new baby poops and it’s cause for celebration. You call your husband into the nursery to usher in the highly anticipated “grainy, yellowish stool.” Oh, joyous day! Get the camera!

When a newborn burps and a bit extra comes along with it, you smile and think it’s cute. “Oops! Did you have a little too much there, sweetie? There, there.”

Dear me! Did junior start to pee right when you took his diaper off? No problem, it’s really just water after all, isn’t it?

Ha! This is just the beginning. It’s easy to laugh off these mishaps when they are little.

How about having a poo explode on you as you reach for a clean diaper at 3am? EXPLODE – you read that right.

Just wait for toddlerhood. We were two-thirds through a 2 hour drive to my parents’ house. The squawky baby finally nodded off when all signs point to the toddler having done some serious business in his diaper. There is no way we are stopping and risk waking the baby. We open the window a crack and carry on. Upon arrival the toddler thoughtfully shakes out a huge deposit from his pant leg onto the driveway. My dad really cares about the condition of his driveway. It did not end well. For me.

Apparently, if you run out of toilet paper, the logical choice is to use the hand towel. No, don’t call for help, wouldn’t want to inconvenience anyone.

You’re in the tub and have to go? Don’t bother saying anything, just do it there. What parent doesn’t enjoy a rousing game of Bobbing for Poo Pellets?

Oh, dear, did you get something on your hand? By all means, smear it on the wall. Wouldn’t want your hands to be dirty.

If you happen to plop something on the floor, don’t say anything, just go back to bed and let it be a surprise.

If I’d known this 8 years ago, forget bibs and sleepers, I would have registered for a HazMat suit.