‘What are you doing today?’ My husband asks as he trims his beard into the sink.
‘We’re going to the dentist’, I say breezily.
‘Cool,’ he says swishing water round the sink to get rid of 65 per cent of the hair. He leaves the other 35 per cent stuck to the enamel for me to swear at later in the day.
The thing is, it’s not cool at all. I’ve been preparing for this trip for months. It has three phases.
Phase 1: Persuasion
I explain to Milk and Mayhem it’s normal to lie back in a shiny leather chair while a masked man shines a bright light into their face and pokes at them with sharp metal tools.
‘Does it hurt?’ Asks Milk as we brush our teeth.
‘No. And you’ll get a sticker if your teeth are good, so keep on brushing.’
I can see Milk weighing up the pros of getting a sticker against the cons of me standing over him twice a day doing exaggerated examples of how to clean teeth.
He decides the sticker isn’t worth it. ‘I don’t like that toothpaste. It’s spicy,’ he whines.
Mayhem gets involved immediately. ‘It’s not spicy Milk. It’s DISGUSTING.’
I taste the toothpaste. It’s red and tastes fruity. It is pretty disgusting.
‘OK. I will get some different toothpaste but you still need to brush your teeth, or they will fall out.’
Milk spits and misses the sink but manages to hit the toilet.
‘A boy in my class gets money when his teeth come out.’
‘That’s the Tooth Fairy. She leaves money under your pillow if you give her your teeth.’ I say as if it is completely normal.
‘But you said we had to brush our teeth to stop them falling out?’ Milk looks confused.
‘Yes, I did say that,’ I nod. ‘How much did he get?’
‘Two pounds,’ says Milk carefully.
‘Two quid?!’ I nearly fall over. ‘I would pull my teeth out for that.’
‘What Mummy?’ asks Mayhem. ‘Why would you pull your teeth out?’
‘I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t,’ I say quickly. ‘I used to get 20p for mine.’
‘But you said you weren’t allowed sweets when you were little so how come your teeth falled out?’ asks Milk.
I feel my head might explode. ‘Little teeth have to fall out so that they can make way for the big grown-up teeth.’
‘So, it doesn’t matter if we eat sweets?’ Milk ponders.
‘Errr yes it does matter.’
‘But my teeth will fall out anyway?’
I shrug. ‘Yes.’ Nothing seems to make sense any more.
Mayhem stops brushing. ‘I don’t want to brush my teeth. Captain Jack Sparrow has fallen out teeth and I want to be Captain Jack Sparrow.’
I don’t know what to say, but luckily Milk has the answer.
‘Mayhem if you brush your teeth, your teeth will be strong, and then you can eat sweets.’
‘Sweets. Yippeee!’ shouts Mayhem foaming at the mouth.
Phase 2: Keep the baby asleep
I pick up the boys at the end of the school day. The baby is asleep in the buggy. Milk is hungry and Mayhem is holding his willy and walking like John Wayne.
‘Did you go to the toilet at nursery?’ I ask him.
‘Yes.’ He says proudly. ‘But now I need a wee.’
We all stop as he pees into someone’s hedge, all over his pants and down his legs.
‘I’ve got wet pants,’ he cries.
‘That’s OK, you can tell the dentist all about it,’ I say quickly pulling up his trousers.
‘I’m soooo hungry,’ Milks says. ‘Can I have a treat for finishing school?’
‘Ohhhhhhhwwwwww,’ Milk wails.
‘You can have something after the dentist.’
‘Don’t say Ohhhhhhhwwwwww’, says Mayhem. ‘Mummy doesn’t like it when we say Ohhhhhhhwwwwww.’
‘Ohhhhhhhwwwwww,’ says Milk.
The baby wakes up.
Phase 3: Damage limitation
In the waiting room I feed the baby next to an old man who stares straight ahead as if he is in a hostage situation.
The boys pick the stickers off a Rubik’s Cube. We are called in.
I go first, manoeuvring myself clumsily onto the slippery black chair. The boys stare at me. I half expect them to clap.
I lie back, my face shielded by large plastic glasses. I can see the bright light and the dentist’s head. I can hear my children doing something.
The dentist reaches for his tools.
‘Argghhh touch anythiargggging’ I shout at my kids.
The baby starts crying and I can hear the boys squealing over the top of the screeching.
The dentist has to shout over the noise to his assistant and a small suction pipe is shoved down my throat.
When it’s over I realise it is strangely quiet. I rise from the bed slowly, hoping to see my children comforting the baby. But the baby has been sick on himself and the boys are staring at me silently. They have rearranged the plastic blinds on the window so it looks like a crack den.
Milk is next.
‘He is fine.’ Says the dentist. ‘Very good.’
I feel like Usain Bolt. Months of preparation and it’s all over in under 10 seconds.
‘Can I have a sticker?’ Milk asks.
‘In a minute. It’s Mayhem’s turn.’
Mayhem tries to go to sleep on the chair. I roll him onto his back and hold his head down.
‘I have wet pants,’ he tells the dentist.
The dentist nods and looks into his mouth.
‘I weed on my pants and in my trousers,’ adds Mayhem.
They both get stickers.
We all turn to leave. ‘You have good teeth’ the dentist says, but adds, ‘for someone looking after three kids.’
I’ll take that.
‘Sweetie time, sweetie time,’ the boys chant as we leave the room.
If you like Milk and Mayhem please share it, tell your friends, buy the t-shirt. It takes me around four days to write each piece, being interrupted every 30 seconds. I’d like to think it is worth the effort if it makes another parent feel better about their day.