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I remember being seven years old, awaiting my parents’ arrival. My sister and I sat upright in the old polyester green chairs that lined the walls of the waiting area in our elementary school. Our parents were bringing us to our annual dentist appointment. We piled into my father’s big grey van, finding an apple in each of our seats- mom was convinced they cleaned teeth. Once we got to the big city, we’d walk down this corridor full of small businesses; they sold things like mugs with Canadian flags on them. My dad and I walked hand in hand, or rather, hand wrapped around finger, and my sister and mother followed close behind, talking endlessly. When we got to the office, there was a shoe rack and a box filled with baby blue shoe covers. Standing in single-file, we’d all slip them over our feet, following each other into the room. My dad always went first because his teeth took the most amount of time, while my mother, sister and I read books or coloured. Next up was my sister; she was brave for a ten year old. The assistant would call her name and without missing a beat she’d be walking into the crystal white room. I was next, and I wasn’t nearly as courageous as her. In fact, I was terrified. So terrified, that I’d need to drag my father into the room with me so that he could lay on the chair and I could lay on top of him. As quickly as it began, it ended. My sister and I were given a new toothbrush and a reminder to floss, then we’d all head downstairs to the bagel shop on the corner. Mom would get her tea, dad his coffee, and my sister and I would get hot chocolates.

Every year for 13 years we practiced this tradition. Until we didn’t anymore. Now it’s seven years later, and I’m sitting in the same waiting room, only now I’m all alone, awaiting the appointment I scheduled by myself, with cigarette stained teeth and homemade tattoos, wondering when the hell I grew up.

Written By: Anna Yates-Potier

Originally Published: September 2015

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