The Drill

The Drill. It sums up last week. Will and Liam had dentist appointments. It was a 25-minute drive to the dentist’s office in the dark early evening rain. In the back seat was a re-hashing of every dentist appointment they could remember. Dentists were demons. Once this was agreed upon, Will and Liam went on to reminisce about strep throat tests. The nurses who did those were also evil, but not the doctor – no, she was really nice. (Well-played, Doctor, throw the nurse under the bus.)

“How long will this take?” Will asked. It’s this 11-year-old’s favorite question. He’s squirming in the waiting room. “Do you want me to come in with you?” I offered. “Only if you don’t restrain me,” he replied with annoyed emphasis on “restrain.” Yes, in the past I have put a full body press on Will and watched cavities filled and sealants applied. About six inches away from the action in Will’s mouth. He knows the drill; I pray I’m not called into restraint service today.

As Will settles into the chair, with book in hand, Liam is guided to the room next door to Will. He also carries a book. I anchor myself against the wall in the hall giving me full vision to both of the open rooms, chair backs facing me. Liam wiggles and giggles as the hygienist straps the bib around his neck. Once in place, he reads. When the dentist comes in, he notices the tools on cords. “Are you going to harm me?” Liam pointedly asks the dentist. He sees the drill; and again, I pray I’m not called into restraint service today.

Will’s cleaning is quick. He lurks in the waiting room and at my side still with the question, “How long will this take?” Liam is having sealants put on the back molars. The dentist sweetly says, “If your tongue goes over there again, we’ll have to start all over. Keep that curious tongue away!” Now I'm silently asking, "How long will this take?" I’m offered a seat near Liam. Really, I just want to stay against that wall, thinking how pleasant it would be if there was a hook for my collar, so when I feel weak in the knees I would still look strong standing against that wall, er, hooked onto that wall.

Finally, squiggly Liam is released. Bounding out of the chair, he laughs in the face of evil, “YES, I’M INVINCIBLE!” I’m not. In two hours, I’ve relived their childhood dental drama which has brought on flashbacks of my childhood dental drama. If they only knew what it used to be like. Leaving the building, I feel as heavy as the Nor’easter soaking us.

The van chat on the way home switches to the School Lock-Down drill. Will had his earlier in the week. Liam’s is the following day, and he missed the day of school that they practiced for it. I was obliged to prepare him. “You’ll be practicing what to do in case there is ever a dangerous situation in the school. The most important thing to remember is to listen well and do exactly what your teacher tells you.” Will embellished. “Yeah, someone came over the loud speaker and said, ‘The intruder is on the main stairs.’ And we were nowhere near there, so our class left the building.” Liam picks up on the word intruder. “Was there a real one at your school, Will?”

I grew up with tornado drills: preparing for a freak of nature. I struggle explaining the complexities of a Lock-Down drill. I remind myself that they learn this drill as a protective measure. It should give a bit of comfort, but it's a freak of nature less easy to understand than the tornado.

By the end of the day, we have lived the definitions of drill: as the known routine of how an event was previously carried out, as a tool that makes holes, and as training for a “what-if” scenario.

I’m fatigued by the English language. As in exhausted. Not as in dressed for war.

Happy Hump Day.