I hate to get sappy, but I must say one of the great joys in the life of a parent is getting to see their kid hopped up on laughing gas for a dental procedure.
Like many people with access to a computer and online videos, I’ve seen the documented drives home from the dentist office where the kids are acting goofy as the parents giggle while the camera is shaking because one of the parents is recording it on their phone to show to their kid’s future prom date. However, the goofiness is not an act, and it’s not all poops and giggles.
Yes, my 9-year-old stepdaughter, Emma, had to undergo a recent dental procedure, and the dentist office told us they’ll be giving something to relax her. They also told my wife to prepare by bringing Emma her favorite blanket, loose-fitting clothes, Tylenol for any pain when the good meds wear off, a bucket in case of nausea and a fully-charged cell phone with a clean camera lens and working microphone.
I remember, somewhat, getting my wisdom teeth out when I was in middle school and they knocked me out. I recall the oral surgeon giving me a shot, an IV and telling my mother that he gave me what’s essentially truth serum and now was the time to interrogate me on all my personal, classified matters.
As I started to squirm, protest and tell my mother to never look or ask about anything placed under my bed, the darkness closed in on me. I was expecting to comfortably wake up in a recovery room to soft music with my parents ready to take me home.
Nope! I woke up in the middle of the procedure, smack-dab in front of a vision of two people in blue surgical masks, each with at least one hand and tool in my mouth, and all I could hear were the distorted sounds of machinery whirling and grinding against enamel. That was followed by a nurse appearing in lingerie, holding one of those big cartoon ACME mallets which then came down on my head, and then I woke in the recovery room.
Okay, I may have hallucinated a bit on the nurse part, but I know for sure I really saw the rest of that stuff.
So, back to Emma, after she received the shot, both my wife and I watched her as she went from anxious about what was happening to a bit sleepy eyed and slow to respond to questions and then to just deciding to be in her own little world.
She started doing things like looking at both her hands and declaring in mild wonder that one hand was bigger than the other. She looked at me, her eyes grew wide and then she stuck her tongue out at me halfway past her lips like it wasn’t worth the effort to put it on full display and give a raspberry. At one point, she yawned and must of forgot how to finish because she sat with her mouth hung open until my wife gently shut it for her.
It wasn’t until we were sitting in the waiting room during Emma’s procedure that I realized I needed to start writing stuff down before I started forgetting things because everything up to that point was humor-column gold…and it still wasn’t over.
The dental procedure went well, and they said Emma was a great patient, which, at first, I thought it wasn’t difficult since she was knocked unconscious with her mouth already open after she gave up halfway on a yawn. But then I heard other kids screaming and fighting with the dental staff, and they were just there for cleanings or to read free copies of “Highlights” magazine.
So I was both proud of Emma and eager to videotape her for the car ride home.
Emma didn’t disappoint even though she really didn’t say much at first; she just swayed her head and body back and forth and side to side while I tried to hold her with one arm so she didn’t head-butt the rear passenger window and keeping my cell phone camera steady with my other arm.
But the conversation home pretty much involved Emma pointing out trees and houses whenever she saw them — occasionally she would point out colors to us, too, but even though her saying, “trees…trees…trees…trees…house…trees…trees” looks boring in print, watching it live was quite amusing.
However, sitting in the backseat with her, it dawned on me that I’ve seen this kind of behavior before — an inebriated childlike wonder of a mundane world passing by — in college.
My suspicion on that front was confirmed as we made it home, and I not only had to carry Emma inside the house, but when she insisted on walking, I had to hoist her up while her wobbly legs went from couch to bed to couch to bed to kitchen to bathroom to couch to bed to couch to kitchen — I was suddenly the designated driver dealing with a difficult drunk out to do her own thing.
That was really apparent when talking to Emma, and I was using that tone we all use when talking to an intoxicated person — always beginning with the passive “yeah” and followed by a question and then a suggestive statement because you know there’s no rhyme or reason to argue with a person in such a condition.
“I want to eat pizza with a unicorn, John Cena!” she said.
“Yeah...you want pizza?” I said. “Well, what I have here is yummy yogurt that you can eat instead, and our unicorn is at the vet today getting de-horned.”
I forgot to mention that she thought I was WWE Superstar John Cena, which is a common mistake made by many people who see me in public, but coming from Emma, it was certainly unexpected and hilarious.
When she wasn’t being demanding or using pure gibberish, she was laying down and constantly flopping her head and body around and making strange noises to the point where I was considering calling an old priest and a young priest over and reminding them to have their cell phones fully charged for the funniest exorcism ever captured on film co-starring a de-horned unicorn and John Cena.
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. His book, “Stupid Brain,” is available on Amazon.com.