My Daughter, My (Former) Younger Self

My daughters dropped me off for a dentist appointment — worse, an oral surgeon — appointment and disappeared to check out a mural in town.

I wait. I wait a little more. The appointment’s at the end of the day, and, as I’m waiting, darkness wraps around the little building. Later, my 14-year-old tells me she was outside in the dark, jumping up and down and waving her arms at me, watching me read.

Who sits in the dentist chair and just reads? she asks.

It’s an odd feeling — myself in a brilliantly lit chair, while my daughter’s outside in the dark, trying to get my attention.

As for the tooth, he looks at it and says, What a shame. The rest of your teeth are so good. I explained I injured the tooth many years ago, but I see he’s not really listening. He’s looking at that tooth. He’s thinking. I say, what’s the least bad way forward?

Then, alone in the room again, I wait and wait, no longer reading, thinking of the story of the tooth, that slender bit of enamel.

It’s nearly 6 p.m. when he returns with an insurance option. I agree, of course. When I walk out, my daughters roll down the windows in the car, laughing, teasing about taking forever….

Here’s my ode to silver maples in State 14.


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. Teeth are such a paradox. They toil quietly and mostly unnoticed-until suddenly- they are the very focus of your existence. I religiously floss and brush but still have oral gold like Fort Knox from tooth grinding and bad breaks. It is amazing that tooth enamel is even harder than say, the bone in your femur. Best wishes and hang in there. GT

  2. Oh dear- that doesn’t sound good. But we do have a mouthful and positive news that the rest are good. May whatever happens be physically and financially (so f’ing pricey) painless.

    1. Oddly enough, I think the money part will be the least painless — which I’m really grateful for. I’ve been exchanging tooth stories with my near world, none of which end in laughter, only grimaces 🙂

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