I need this like I need another hole in my head

Six year-old Eli and I each have a cavity. Today is the day we go to the dentist to have holes drilled in our teeth. I told Eli that he will get a shot in his mouth, which will hurt. He looked at me with his big brown eyes, at once stoic and melancholy, like this is the sort of news he expects to hear on any given day. I hope he doesn’t cry, because then I will want to cry.

When they are done torturing him, they will turn to me. I won’t get a shot in my mouth, because my dentist told me the drilling required is so light that I probably don’t need it.

“Probably” is not a comforting word, when you are not the one holding the drill. I’d just as soon get the shot. But the reality is that because my dentist told me he would go without it, the Man Code now requires that I forgo the painkiller as well. Truth be told, I’d just as soon have two holes drilled in my teeth if I could spare Eli his misery. Afterwards I think we are going to get a treat. And tonight we will have a lesson in flossing, which is never pretty when a little boy does it, but is better than the alternative.


  1. karen

    Tony, Man Code. Please. I just read the excerpt of ‘Raising Wild Boys’ in which you exclaim that you scream like a girl over a paper cut. You really need to look the Dr. in the eye and say gimme the good stuff. Don’t blink. Think of it as the doctor’s problem, not yours. In any case, after my sermon, I hope this finds you well & on the mend. Eli too. Karen

  2. Lindy Hall

    I love your blog, and I hope the dental appointment was surprisingly painless. I’m a notorious coward in a dental chair, so you and Eli have my complete sympathy. How did it go?

  3. Terro

    The trick to easing a visit to the dentist is to fall asleep. With the new dental chairs, it’s possible to lie prone, close your eyes, nod off (if you’re tired) or go someplace else in your head…even without a painkiller. And the good news is that dentistry today is tons gentler than years ago.

    What I do think is worse than any pain is the lectures on brushing and flossing that always occur…and the fact that inevitably all my lipstick is rubbed off by the time I leave. That’s something you don’t even need to worry about!

  4. Cordeiro

    Two words: Sedation Dentistry.

    This is allowable under Section 230 sub paragraph 32a of the Man Code entitled “Iron Hooks and oral surgery”.

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