Saturday, 13 August 2011


Deaglan and I had a lunch date yesterday. It was just like old times, before you-know-who showed up. We went to his fave joint, sat in the Playplace, side-by-side in a booth and dipped our fries into little buckets of ketchup. It wasn’t for nothing but it sure was fun.

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.


  1. My heart breaks for you as a little girl going through all that suffering, despair and fear. Even as a little girl, you showed such strength and determination. You're a force in this world, Kim - a positive, life changing force that will grace the lives of all who learn from your experiences and perspective.

    I'm happy that Deaglan had a good first experience at the dentist. He is so, so handsome. Both your boys are gorgeous. Watch out when girlfriend time kicks in.

    Love all that you share here. Do you feel this BIG HUG that I'm sending you now? Just wait until I meet you some day, and I will - that will be a visit I will treasure.

  2. I have enjoyed so many of your posts even though I don't have my own children and am touched by this post about your own childhood and Deaglan's first visit to the dentist. It is a beautiful thing that you can take some of those painful memories and while never forgetting them, have such powerful insight on them and apply that insight to your observations and experiences as a mom. Watching and supporting your son through all of his firsts must have such powerful meaning for you when you remember what you went through as a child.

  3. I tell you what Kim-that dentist was a shithead. There is no excuse for what he did-and he should have not been allowed to practice. It makes me so sad and sick at heart to think of what you went through as a little girl-but if there is any good that can come from it it's that you are more sensitive and aware of how your own children are treated. I love how you put it:

    "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."

    I really believe that just seeing your boys have that kind of wonderful childhood can provide some healing for you too, sweet girl:)

  4. First of all, I love your tags... Secondly and more importantly, that dentist was way out of line. And one day, when you tell your boys that story, they will not equate it to walking up the hill ten miles with no shoes. They will think you are brave and they will be grateful for what you endured, and for how you tell the story of living through hell on earth and then coming to a new life. It speaks to how we need to treat/ help the rest of the poor, starving orphans. Sometimes I show your blog to my husband and it reconfirms for us why we believe in adoption. Thank you for telling us your stories.

  5. That dentist shouldn't have needed the back story to know not to slap you. No one should slap a child. How were you supposed to ever develop trust in medical situations?

  6. Thank goodness you don't have to worry about dentists slapping your boys. Ugh, I can't believe that!

    He looks so cute. Our dentist gives sunglasses to wear too, it crack me up.

  7. One of the things I love about you the most is that you do not forget where you came from, your origins, your culture, your experiences. I know so many people who moved to USA/Canada/UK as adults from countries like yours and they assimilate, adapt, and do everything in their power to forget that place from where they came. Yet you who truly has reason to forget simply because you left at such a young age, you hold onto that. You try to show your children that there are those who aren't as fortunate and I find that so amazing and I truly admire you for holding onto that part of you and not letting it go but most of all I am grateful to you for sharing it with us.

  8. I had no idea! What a heartbreaking beginning you had. And I don't think there is any excuse for a doctor to EVER slap a child across the face! In fact ... I don't think it's okay for anyone to do so!

    Deaglan is indeed adorable!

  9. Holy cow!! I almost don't have words for the dentist that slapped jaw dropped when I read that. What a fool.
    I'm now going back to read the other parts of your story.
    And I'm SO glad your son had a good experience at the dentist.

  10. I always enjoy reading about your early years. I know that sounds odd to say I "enjoy" reading them but I do. It reminds me to put my trials in perspective. I did not have a cake walk childhood but I never had to beg or have any physical scars from third world medicine. And I still have my mom. I so easily slip back into "why me" or "poor me" mode that I need to remind myself of what I was born into.

    What an amazing person you are today. I simply don't know how you turned out they way you are starting out with such modest means. I can only surmise you have a strong spirit of which I am in awe of.

    I also very much enjoyed reading and seeing the photos of Deaglan's first dental visit. I am assuming he had a clean check up and no cavities. This is great. What a handsome guy. And I, too, enjoy some one on one time with T Rex. They do need it and it's nice to reconnect at the level we once were before his Bebe Sister.

  11. I'm happy that Deaglan did well at the the dentist's, but my heart breaks for you and your experience. I love the raw & pure honesty in your writing. You manage to say and convey so much in such few words.

  12. This post was engaging, heartbreaking and uplifting in just a few paragraphs. Wow. You definitely did put things into perspective.

    And how I love spending one on one time with my children too. Your little guy is very. adorable.

  13. My heart sank when I read how you were treated, Kim! What a horrible thing to go through, especially as a small child who was new to this country! You've grown from that small, unsure little girl into a strong woman, with amazing integrity and a strong sense of self. It's a shame that medical professionals got away with what they did back in the day. It's horrific. I'm glad Deaglan had a good experience on his first trip to the dentist and I'm even more happy that you got to experience that with him. Thanks for sharing your story!

  14. My heart breaks for you have gone through so much in your life when so many of us have been so blessed? I really humbles me.

    Maya has a similar experience at the dentist. It's all gum flavored toothpaste and stickers and video games. Our kids have no idea how good they have it do they?

    PS: They guy was a shithead. No doubt about it.

  15. What a sad and painful memory. The fact that you are a happy mommy today with such a beautiful family is just proof that all good outcomes are possible. I love happy endings.

  16. Your story made my blood boil then made my heart melt. First, I just wanted to track that sh!thead dentist down and b!tch slap him hard. Then, I wanted to hug Deaglan for being so brave at his dentist appt. Isn't it lucky for us that we have kids to smooth out our rough edges?

  17. The juxtaposition of your childhood experience and D's is stunning.

    And you make us realize how lovely and truly special these daily celebrations can be.

    And to cherish them.

  18. Oh traumatic that procedure and slap had to be for you. I want to give you a huge are one fiercely strong woman!
    Yay, for Deaglan's visit!! How cool were those shades? He seems so happy, sure and safe with his Mommy there for him. Much love to you. :)

  19. Deaglan is so handsome, Kim...and the dentist was a shithead.


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