In what scenario would anyone find going to the dentist exciting? I know! When you've been trapped in the house for three months on COVID-19 lockdown. That's when.
Due in part to COVID-19 and a confluence of other factors, the kids were 5 months overdue for their latest dental cleaning. I am always punctual about that particular appointment because I am rather cavity-averse, especially when you factor in four children and the number of potential cavities that could mean. When the dentist's office called last week to let us know they would be re-opening this week, I jumped at the chance to go.
Our previously scheduled appointment had been on March 16, the Monday AFTER Los Angeles went on lockdown. I had already changed that appointment twice, in January and February, due to issues with the kids' school. So when it was canceled due to the onset of the quarantine I was pretty upset. Getting four kids to the dentist, who attend 3 different schools, is no easy feat. Factor in that the dentist is in Santa Monica and we live in the West Valley, the odds get even worse. Between normal LA traffic and the sheer number of children I have, it is at least half a day out of school, if not more. When they called to cancel our appointment, on March 13th (Lockdown Friday) I knew it would be a long time before we would get there again.
When I booked the appointment last week, my biggest concern was whether it was safe to take them to a dentist during a pandemic. Little could I have known that just a few days later, Santa Monica would become one of the epicenters of the protesting, riots, and looting in Los Angeles. These days, it seems, a pandemic is not enough to have to deal with. The forces that be, seem to think we all need the extra stress of civil unrest to layer on top of that.
After speaking with the dental office yesterday, I felt reassured our safety in coming to Santa Monica today. Besides, I was too afraid to cancel, after all the other rescheduled and canceled appointments. Curfew started at 2 this afternoon in Santa Monica and I knew we would be back on the road by 12:30, most likely.
Our dental appointment was a welcome change of scenery. The kids were excited to go, as was I. I got dressed up because I actually had somewhere to go. Normally the dentist wouldn't' qualify as a destination to dress up for, but these are unusual times. In my book, any occasion that takes you out of the house is now worth dressing up for.
So off we went this morning. What would normally be a 60-90 minute drive at that time only took 30 minutes. We were so happy to get out of the house, go to another part of the city we hadn't been to in many months, have a change of scenery, and see our beloved dentist, Dr. Kleinman. Oh and there was the added benefit of leaving there with four sets of clean teeth
Dr. Kleinman and his staff were in full COVID-19 protective gear (including face shields and disposable hospital gowns that I am only used to seeing in an ICU setting). I felt very safe, with all the precautions they had taken, but also sad in a strange way. It was my first time in that kind of environment since the onset of this pandemic. Dr. Kleinman told me that it had taken them weeks to re-do their entire office and all their procedures to comply with all the strict guidelines and prepare for this re-opening. Almost everything had to be re-thought and re-vamped.
A normally easy-going and affable man, Dr. Kleinman's stress and anxiety were palpable this morning. as he made sure that all the protocols were followed properly. Almost everything was different from our normal visits including the noticeably missing toy chest (every kids' favorite part of going to the dentist). Observing all this drove home for me, how real and serious the implications of this virus are. For people working in the medical field especially, this is as serious as it gets. Their liability is enormous and one wrong decision or mistake could cost numerous people their lives, including children. I felt sad, for him, his staff, and all of us. This is the new normal and it is pretty harsh.
Normally Dr. Kleinman gives me a big hug when we leave. There was no hug today. I think that was the saddest part of all. We stood 6 feet apart, me in my mask and him in his head-to-toe protective gear. He told me how happy he was to see us and I knew he meant it. He is a true old-school doctor who is in the medical field for all the right reasons. I do not doubt that having his practice closed for all these months has been both a financial and emotional hardship for him, his staff, and his family.
For us, we were simply happy to do something that approximated normal. Pre-COVID-19, a dental appointment would never qualify as a fun outing.
It is a new day-and-age when going to the dentist is a welcome and exciting adventure.
Once we got home, we entered the Integer Boot Camp. As I mentioned yesterday, Garin grew woefully behind in many of his classes. We are making a big push to get much of his missing work done over the next 4-5 days. Unbeknownst to me, he skipped the past 3 weeks of math, which has consisted entirely of integers. I promised I would sit with him today, watch the videos, and do all the math alongside him. As a result, the kids ate cereal for dinner, I had no dinner and ended up with a nasty headache. Below are just two of the many integer work sheets I had to complete this afternoon and evening.