He had his very first dentist appointment afterward.
I wondered if someday I’d tell him about the time my dentist slapped me when I was seven. It’s one of those stories I have in my bag; sort of fits into the “when I was your age I walked ten miles up hill in snow to get to school…”. You know? Eye-roll inducing, disbelief.
The thing is, before coming to Canada at age seven, I’d been treated only by third world medicine. My one time at a hospital, I was laid on a wood slab, held down by a couple of pokerfaced men, while a third equally vacant one, cut an infected growth off my arm. No freezing. No sedation. A small block of wood to bite down on and a stick of pink gum in foil wrapper when it was over. Even now, I finger the half-inch jagged scar on the inside crook of my right arm and smell urine and rubbing alcohol.
I was six that year.
The dentist who slapped me likely needed the hysterical crying and flailing to stop so he could do his work. He couldn’t have known that I’d spent four and five begging on the streets of my village with my older sister; that half of five and all of six were spent living in an orphanage far, far away from my mother. Probably no one explained to him that right after seven I moved to his side of the world, met a new family and culture, and had a new name .
Maybe if my file had included that, he would have resisted the itch to slap me across the face.
Or maybe he was just a shithead.
Yes, I chewed on this as I studied my biggest boy at his first visit. I watched him toggle between fear and fascination as the hygienist introduced each new tool. I watched hungrily, my cavernous need to celebrate every milestone, exalting that his life has been blessed with so much simple abundance. Seamless and smooth, blurring together.
And I took pictures.
In front of the daycare - I snatched him out of the line-up. The preschoolers were walking back from the library.
In the waiting room.
Loving the chair that moves up and down.
To my mild embarrassment, before the hygienist had even begun, Deaglan asked can I have a toy now?When he finally was presented with this treasure chest, the relief on his face said that this had all been worth it.