I'm not sure why, but it seems like the majority of people I know dislike going to the dentist. I really don't know what that's all about since I really enjoy dental visits. You might assume from that statement that I was born with perfect teeth. In reality, I had two years of braces, a palate expander to make my mouth wider, and have had about 10 teeth extracted, and at least 6 cavities that I can remember (four of which I blame on my summer in France and the lack of fluoride in the water). The dentists in my life have inflicted a good deal of pain on me, but they have also improved my smile and gave me the confidence to laugh without covering my mouth.
My parents and I have invested a lot into this smile (Thanks Mom and Dad!) and I'm not going to mess that up with shoddy maintenance. I plan to instill the fear of rotten pirate teeth in Ada, as a strong incentive for daily brushing and flossing (although black-encrusted teeth would come in handy at Halloween parties someday, I guess). She's already great with a toothbrush and I plan to encourage that skill as much as I can -- after all, by the time she's in high school I know braces will cost the same as a second home so I'm hoping she gets Rick's (far superior and straight) dental genes.
So today, we went to the dentist. And I will say it was quite the adventure.
It all started with me planning how to get downtown. My dentist is in the building south of Macy's in the loop and from our place, it's a hike. Driving is tough unless you want to pay $25+ to park, or maybe $8-$12 for two hours if you are lucky enough to find a meter space, or $18ish if you park a few blocks southwest and hike in, or I could pay $4 for two hours if I parked near my office and then took the train in for another $4.50 round trip, or I could just take the train...but what if the elevators aren't working? Then I'll get stranded with Ada and the stroller and who needs that drama? The bus takes forever and is still $2 each way. I think Ada is free since she's under 2 but I don't know what the cutoff age is for when they start charging. And on top of everything else, I really need to return sweaters I bought at Target that Rick says are too big and I need to drop by a bunch of work papers to his office that he brought home last week when Ada was sick to work on from home. Gesh. What to do...?
As it turns out, we are also kitty sitting for our friends that just got married and live on the south side. They were nice enough to give me parking passes for their neighborhood so I could park while Ada goes to "play" with the kitties. I say that because they don't really like her but I feel it's important for them to know people still exist in their life, so we stop by to check on them. Brilliant me got the idea to drive down to their house, stop at their local target on Roosevelt, park, and then stroll Ada downtown for the appointment, then back to the car, up to Rick's office for the drop off of work stuff and then home. Easy right? Never.
We start off at 10:30. My appointment is at 11:30. It's 15 minutes to Aaron and Cassie's. No problem. No time for Target so that gets stricken from the schedule and moved to the "maybe later" list.
As I lock the front door, I realize I forgot the Target returns inside. Open the door, grab the bag, re-lock, and begin to herd Ada, the stroller, the Target bag, the diaper bag and my purse through vestibule door number one, down the stairs, to vestibule door number two, down the last few steps and out to the sidewalk. All's well so far. Down the street to the car. Get Ada loaded. Loading everything else into the trunk -- thankfully we are parked far enough away from the car behind us so that I can swing open the door to the CRV and get everything in, and Rick pre-loaded his work crap saving me two more trips. I go to collapse the BOB stroller and ... nothing. Not gonna do it. The darn thing won't collapse. After five tries, I give up and lift the whole thing into the car. It's bent over but not collapsed and, amazingly, it fits. Thank God for the CRV. Let's roll.
(Little voice in my head --Damn, that reminds me I never pushed in the mirror that sticks out into the street when I parked last-- hope it's still attached next time I go out...we'll see...)
Once in the car I call Rick to complain about the stroller. His reply is something like "You just have to pull up really hard."
To which I respond, "Um. No. I tried that. I know how it works and something is stuck. I'm not patient but I'm also not a moron. Whatever. It's in the car." We're on our way. Yippee! 45 minutes should be just right.
We get to Aaron and Cassie's and park nearby on 14th street. I get out and unlock Ada so she can start getting out of the car. I go to get the stroller out and set it up. Then I convert my purse contents to the diaper bag so I have a lighter load for the trek ahead of us. Ada's got a balloon in the car from my brother's baby shower and, of course, it blows out the back door so I have to run down the street chasing it, like a complete dork, as I worry that Ada will somehow jump out of the car and get hit by oncoming traffic all for a silly yellow balloon with only enough helium to hover a few feet from the ground. I catch the balloon, put it in the front seat, much to her disappointment, get Ada out of the car and loaded into the stroller. She's mad. She doesn't want to be in the stroller. She wants to walk of course. She walks for a block, as I continually hurry her, and then gives in to the stroller. Finally. Now we're moving. We go about four blocks to Roosevelt road and see a movie being filmed. That's fun. We'll check it out on the way back. 25 minutes of walking lapses. We are now downtown and getting all sorts of smiles. There aren't a lot of strollers in the loop and Ada's a ham so she tends to attract attention.
We get to the building and push the handicap button for the door. I am again reminded of how thankful I am that I'm fully abled and remind myself to go out of my way to help the disabled any chance I get since life is so much harder when you can't use revolving doors or even just open them yourself.
Up the elevator and into the dentist's office. All of the ladies there just ogle over Ada. We go in for my exam and she is an angel. Perfect in every way. Completely enamored by the process. Not afraid at all. Wants to sit on my stomach to get a closer look. Practically crawls into my mouth at one point. Adorable. She got her own toothbrush and a toy for being so good. I was shocked.
Then it was time to check out and leave. She got to go behind the scenes at reception and play with a Highlighter--which we still have because she threw a tantrum when it was time to leave and Rick has an appointment Thursday so he can return it--and the ladies again loved her. Then it was time to leave and she was having nothing of it. A few tears and screams later, we were on our way down in the elevator. All was back to being well with the world (and Ada had a death grip on that yellow Highlighter). We called Rick for lunch and agreed to meet at Macy's food court.
La la la... we get to Macy's and have to go to the second entrance on Wabash because that's where they have the handicap accessible entrance. Yippee. We find the entrance and push the button... and of course, it's broken. So a fine gentleman coming out holds the door open for me and we open the inner door ourselves. We get into the store and immediately I look lost, because I am, and two gentlemen installing sale signs explain that there are two food courts at Macy's, one on seven and one on the lower level. I pick the lower level and text Rick to meet us there. Of course, he arrives and wants to go to the one on seven. We're off to ask for more directions to get to the express elevator to seven--we don't have all day here okay? The guy at the Frango mints table is very helpful and we quickly find the express to seven.
At seven, we notice that it's a zoo. We decide to get burgers because they are the most un-friendly Ada-thing to eat in this whole place (or really that's just where Rick chooses since the line is shortest.) Ada meanwhile just wants to run free and gawk at the fellow lunch patrons. Rick's ordering. I'm chasing Ada. Chaos. I finally catch her and go to see our status on food. I thought we had to get into this other really long line and wait for our food. In asking this question, I pinch Rick inadvertently when trying to tug his jacket on the backside of his bicep. That didn't feel good and he's a little bent out of shape. I soon learn that we don't have to get into the long line because that is for Frontera Grill. My bad Rick Bayless.
Rick takes Ada and goes to find a table. That leaves me with the stroller and a tray with a pint glass filled with coke, another glass containing a chocolate shake, and now two burgers. The guy hands them to me and asks if I need help getting to my seat. Of course I do but I say somehow I'll manage or make two trips. I then proceed to balance the tray of food on the handlebars of the stroller and make my way to our table. Once there, I, fittingly, run over Rick's foot with the stroller and nearly drop everything. Thankfully, nothing spills but he shoots me another dirty look to which I quickly reply "I am not out to get you. The pinch and the stroller were both accidents. I'm just trying to sit down to eat for Pete's sake." To which he smiles the shared "parenting can be rough sometimes" smile and we're back to being all good and happily married again.
Then Ada goes into nightmare mode. She won't sit still, only wants the chocolate shake (I taught her well), and won't eat anything else. After a few minutes of this, I give up. I tried to let her run, and even went up to eight and back down on the escalator. We did a lap around the food court and I finally kissed Rick goodbye (after eat my fries and most of my spicy -read: crappy- turkey burger), loaded the stroller and set off for the car. We got all the way back to the exit on the first floor when I realized I had to make a pit stop, and Ada needed a diaper change. Back to search for the elevators.
The sign said handicap accessible restrooms were on every floor but the one we were on. We go up to 2, even though I meant to hit LL. We get off long enough for me to see it's the men's floor and I'm back on the elevator down to the Lower Level. I ask a MAC makeup artist for directions to the restroom and we head that way. Once inside the four bays of bathroom stalls, I scope the place out in search of the one handicap stall that will fit me and Ada and the stroller. Too bad it's impossible to get to without closing three stall doors on the way. Thank God again that I'm not trying to do this in a wheelchair or I would have screamed and starting throwing things at this point. After that, we wash our hands and I load Ada up on the Koala Bear changing table.
Once she's changed and we've washed up, I think it's finally time to trek back to the car. That is, until we pass the smoothie stand. We HAVE to stop for a smoothie. Ada didn't eat much and my lunch wasn't that great. So we get a berry smoothie. She drinks a quarter of it before we even get out of the store (again through the broken handicap doors.)
About a third of the way to the car, Ada finishes the smoothie. I had, maybe, 25% of it. And that's being generous. It was a pretty large drink mind you. Can't wait to change that diaper. Yikes. Once the smoothie is done, we look to recycle it and I'm again reminded of how much I hate our city's lack of recycling receptacles downtown. Pretty sad for as "Green" as we claim to be. We go a few more blocks and Ada starts fussing, again. I let her out to walk. But she doesn't want that. I giver her a toy. Nope. Still not happy. After a block I just shove her back into the stroller and keep going. So what if people stare at me for being a bad mom and not catering to her needs. There is nothing I can do for her until we get to the car, so deal with it.
We are finally just a few blocks from the car and a crowd has formed. Oh yeah, they are filming a movie down here today. So we stop to gawk and see what's going on. It's clear that they are filming and someone famous is down there but what, and who? Being the friendly person that I am, I ask a few guys standing nearby. "Do you know what movie this is?" "Little Fockers. The 3rd in the Meet the Parents series." Oh yeah. That must be... Robert De Niro over there filming. Neat. We stay for about five minutes and then we head back to the car. I jam everything back in and we're off to Rick's office for the big drop off of work stuff.
It only takes about five minutes to get to Rick's office since we are driving and driving is SO much faster than walking. I call Rick to come down and meet me (thank goodness for cell phones even though I frequently curse them). As he approaches the car I wave all kids of mom-dad sign language to let him know to be VERY VERY quiet (I'm not hunting wabbit...) because Ada is sleeping in her car seat already. He silently removes the stroller, all of his stuff, puts the stroller back and shuts the door. Then he comes around to my side for a quick peck goodbye and a "see ya later." It's finally time to head home.
What feels like a gazillion years later, we are back home with clean teeth, a borrowed Highlighter, new toothbrushes and toothpaste, bellies full of yummy smoothie -- Ada's more so than mine-- and she's had a mini nap. All is back to being well with the world.
Moral of the story: When you live in the city and have a toddler, even the smallest errand can become a full-blown adventure. Follow the girl scouts' and boy scouts' advice: Be Prepared.
PS - Rick walked in to the dentist's office that Thursday morning, pulled out the Highlighter and the whole office erupted in laughter. They knew exactly what it was and why he was returning it, much to his surprise.