It always starts with something small, then I am sitting somewhere I don’t belong, hours later, wondering how I got here.
This time it started with a thirteen-year-old girl with a toothache, holding her jaw yesterday afternoon. I asked if she was okay, which led to her asking for medicine for the pain. When I looked at her teeth, the cavity was evident. I have seen cavities on Stephen’s teeth before–a small little speck that I can see developing. This was a crater. It was harder to find the tooth around the cavity.
I told her we should probably go to the clinic since Stephen and I are heading out of town. We scheduled for 8am on Monday morning to head over to Mae Tao.
Then she brought her little sister and brother over to our house.
They both had clearly evident cavities that made me cringe just to look at them. It turned into all four of us planning to take the motorbike the next morning.
By the next morning, another sister was joining us, and despite an attempt, the motorbike wasn’t going to work. We can get four on, but five was just too many. I was off to the office to borrow a truck.
The littlest, a five-year-old boy had put up a fight getting into the car. Apparently he had heard about the dentist. I let him kick me on the way to the car, got him buckled in, and handed him Angry Birds. And by 9am, I was driving down the road with four kiddos buckled into the seats around me. One was trying to play Angry Birds while another tried to take it away; then I’d hear, “Kelli! Kelli!” when they got stuck on a screen they didn’t understand–probably accidentally buying something.
We made it to the clinic and managed our way through the registration line. After I wait ten to fifteen minutes, a staff member usually comes out to help me specifically. This is most likely because I’m white, but I do sincerely appreciate it. I usually get cut in front of multiple times and I start to wonder how I’ll get to the front. It just doesn’t seem right to shove around sick people in a culture I am trying to love and embrace, but that seems to be the most-used tactic.
When we made it to the dental room, I was still naive of what was coming. These are stellar kids, from a really stellar family in the community. They are really well behaved. I was also just thinking they would simply fill a cavity–it can’t be that bad, right? Honestly, I don’t know. I have great teeth–well, after three years of braces and five surgeries–and I haven’t had a cavity filled yet. I just didn’t think it’d be that bad.
Well, it wasn’t fillings they had in mind. The oldest thirteen-year-old girl received a filling, but the three youngest each got an extraction. I have had fifteen of those, and they aren’t fun. I’m also fairly certain I had better anesthetics. I could be wrong, but those huge shots into their gums didn’t look pleasant.
Look at those feet kicking!
I don’t know how to describe situations like this. I do know we brought the show, again.
I know the littlest one screamed and screamed, but was small enough to hold down. He forgave us, and nearly fell asleep while I held him and his photo was taken by visitors to the clinic. He’ll probably help them raise money for more migrant medical care!
I know the eight-year-old was bigger and more stubborn to control. They attempted, and gave up. We tried again, this time with me in the dental chair, her laid out on my lap, my arms holding her down while they pulled out her teeth. I know everyone was watching, and I know that little girl was strong! Holding down kids is a workout.
I know the older two were trying to hard to be brave, and really did a great job. I know we were all glad it was over.
We stopped by the little market shop so they could each pick something out. I know why parents do this, too. For $4 we got a plastic gun, a little doll dressed in blue, and two packages of grapes.
We survived. But it was while I was sitting in the dentists’ chair with a little girl locked tight in my arms that I thought: I don’t belong here. How did this become my Monday morning? When did I suddenly obtain four children? And why are they all crying and bleeding?!