January 19, 2010

Zip-Zip, Tap-Tap, Scrape-Scrape-Scrape

At the Dentist

Moe wept in a corner of the waiting room, great heaving sobs as if her heart were cracking wide open.

The dental assistant called me over and whispered the details. "The dentist calls them 'zip-zips'," she said, "because the cavities aren't really large enough to drill. It only takes a second to take care of them. Maybe if you tell her that, she won't be so scared."

Too late. Someone already said it: "CAVITY." Moe has two -- one on each side where her cheeks rub her molars. For a kid who's been blessed with unblemished teeth all her life, the news was devastating.

I tried to console her, sprinkling her with reassurances "zip-zips" aren't REALLY cavities. But she's too learned for that.

I thought we were in for a long, tearful ride home, but Moe stopped crying as suddenly as she began. It wasn't because she found comfort; it was because she stuffed her fear way, way down deep inside where it'll stay until her next appointment.

Six months from now, when the dental assistant calls her name, Moe's fear will violently reemerge and she'll take off at a full sprint trying to escape the premises, like she did at the doctor's office the last time she had immunizations.

The poor kid feels cursed, having the family's first cavity. Nothing I say will make her feel better about that.


Library Children's Section

The girls left me at our table and disappeared amongst the bookshelves. I settled into my seat and into the silence, staring out the window into the courtyard. Dead leaves swirled in lazy circles across the patio bricks. A gray squirrel ran back and forth through the fence, smuggling acorns to his hidden cache.

Back and forth, back and forth
...with his shivering tuft of tail flagging behind him. Back and forth, back and forth...with my eyelids slipping slowly, slowly down.

At the table next to me, a woman with silver curls clicked away at the soft keys on her laptop. Tap tap tap.... The sound was soothing, like a little wooden clock, ticking only loud enough to let me know it's working. Tap tap tap.

"I'll just lay my head down for a minute," I thought.

A jolt went through me. My eyes snapped open, and then I was surrounded by giggling, chattering kids. A friend grinned back at me from across the table. "You were out cold."

So I was. About twenty minutes cold. I blame the squirrel, silver curls, and soft keys.


Evening Serenade: Nails on Chalkboard (in the Key of D)

Homeschooling tonight was as easy as dragging an anchor across a coral reef. Rocky's decided to conscientiously object to quadratic equations. Priss has declared she won't be diagramming any more sentences.

Under normal circumstances, I'd cheerfully summon the patience and resourcefulness to add a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but not tonight. Not, not, not tonight.

What I really want to do is read more Disgrace, critique a few peer article submissions, and maybe play some good-for-nothing games on Pogo. What I'm really going to do is pay the bills and write more lesson plans for the kids to reject tomorrow.


One Wish for the Weekend

To drive to Lake Charles to see Doubt, playing at Acts Theatre. I know Meryl Streep (love), Philip Seymour Hoffman (love), and Amy Adams (love) aren't billed for this particular performance, but Doubt is, without a doubt, a hot script.

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