Back in the dim, dark ages, when I was a little girl, dental nurses cared for the teeth of young children. Each school had a dental clinic building (called the murder house by ourselves) and every year, usually your birthday month, a child would arrive at the door of the classroom holding a large card with your name on it and you would be sent off with it clutched in your reluctant little hand for an appointment.
In those days the powers that be didn’t believe in wasting money on high-speed drills for children, so we had to suffer the excruciatingly slow speed drills that seemed to go on and on and on for ever.
Visits to the dental clinic were a nightmare for me and I lived in dread of the day when the card appeared at the door. I was about eight when I got all the way to the murder house door, card in hand , the dread got to much and I dropped the card and ran all the way home.
This was one of those early and major lessons in life – some things you just can’t avoid. My Mother put me in the car, took me back to the clinic, where I received three fillings and had a tooth extracted.
Nowadays I’m still completely freaked out by visits to the dentist. Even when I know that nothing particularly painful is going to happen, I still have to work very hard not to drop my card and run. Today I visited my very kind dentist, Mr Wong, who is a lovely man and who promptly rescued my tooth from its old coating of concrete glue and stuck it firmly back in its rightful place. There was no pain, just a little discomfit – but the smell of the place and the sounds and the way I pushed myself back against that chair as if it I could escape into it. I fairly staggered out of there, exhausted with the tension I had put myself through.
But hey – I have a lovely, clean tooth back in place and I no longer look like the wicked witch of the west.
And I am a grown up – I had a choice, there’s lots of good things about being a grown up…