Monday, September 29, 2008

Dad must cover an orthodontist's appointment

No, the Curmudgeon is not getting braces: I had my turn with those contraptions several decades ago.

But Youngest Son is still under the care of an orthodontist. His braces were recently removed and he had an appointment today to check on how his retainer was retaining.

Scheduling these appointments are... tricky. While most kids would gladly sacrifice class time to go see the orthodontist, their parents are usually less willing.

So everyone tries to get these appointments for some time after school or on school holidays. Our orthodontist puts his foot down occasionally because he can't see 500 kids between 3:00 and 3:30 every day. He insists that some appointments (and he specifies which) must be done during the school day.

Today's appointment for Youngest Son was set for after school, but just at the outset of the daily rush because, on Mondays, he gets out at 2:15.

Are you still with me?

But Youngest Son also has football practice after school. There's a window between the end of school and before practice starts. That's the time when he gets his homework done. Sometimes, or so he tells us, that's when he seeks help from the Geometry teacher or the Chemistry teacher. But today Youngest Son was willing to sacrifice this precious time to get to and from the orthodontist.

As long as he got back in time for practice, of course. He was seemingly pleasant about it. But, if the appointment went long... well, the mask would drop.

You have already surmised, from the title of this essay, that yours truly was somehow commandeered into conveying Youngest Son to his appointment and back to practice.

See, Long Suffering Spouse found out that she would be spending the day in Wisconsin at some sort of a leadership training seminar for her junior high students. In Wisconsin, if not everywhere, leadership is built by trudging through the woods and playing games like tug-of-war. For some reason -- perhaps the two hour journey each way in a yellow school bus with shrieking junior high students -- Long Suffering Spouse was not looking forward to the experience.

Once the scheduling conflict became clear, Long suffering Spouse began casting about trying to find some way of getting the appointment covered. She looked pointedly in my direction. I tried to look invisible.

"Well," said Long Suffering Spouse, "we might be able to get my mother to do it. My 75-year old mother. My mother, who is having increasing difficulty driving...."

These rather one-sided discussions proceeded over the course of several days. Eventually, though, I was shamed into speaking. "Look, it's not that I won't do it. It's just that the quickest way for something to get scheduled for that time is for me to commit to doing this."

"Uh huh."

So the great day arrived. We dropped Long Suffering Spouse off at school well before sunrise. I told her I'd take care of the appointment and not to worry about it. She asked me again to repeat the time of the appointment. And the location. And what time I was to pick up Youngest Son.

I got to work early this morning and tried to get a full day's work done in half a day's time. Usually, I seem to get a half day's work done in a full day's time. Sometimes, I'm not even that efficient.

But, today, I made a real effort. I even accomplished some of the things I had set out to do... but the morning was waning and the phone was ringing and the time I had hoped to leave by came and went. And then the time by which I had to leave if I had any hope of getting to where I needed to go came... and I went.

It was raining, but I made good time. I was no more than five minutes late. OK, 10.

But we made it to the orthodontist by 2:30 for our 2:30 appointment. OK, 2:30-ish.

One of the things I'd wanted to do today was stop at the bank. There was a branch just down the street from the orthodontist's office. Just down the street... as in literally two blocks. So I dropped Youngest Son off and headed for the bank.

I wasn't even out of the car when my cell phone rang. It was Youngest Son. He was done.

Wouldn't you think the kid would at least read a magazine for a couple of minutes... just so I could pretend that I hadn't torn apart my entire afternoon for a 30 second appointment?


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

some days i am so glad i am old!

smiles, bee

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

I went through a very similar situation about 15 years ago. My son's appointment lasted only 10 minutes.

He could have walked to the Orthodontist (1/4 of a mile away) but his mother insisted that I leave work and drive him to his appointment.

The Beach Bum