Part 37 Claire’s Story: National Dental Hygienist Test

By  P. Berman,  K. Hecht, &  A. Hosack  

NO….it’s today! I can’t. I don’t want to. I must!

Claire had a knot in her stomach. She was holding her pillow against her stomach and trying to go back to sleep. She didn’t want to wake up. If she did, she would have to take the National Dental Hygienist Examination. It included 350 test questions! Despite all her hard work in school, it was this test that would determine if Claire could get a job as a dental hygienist.

Claire would need a score of at least 75% to pass this test. Claire was doing very well in school; she had a B+ grade point average. She tried to remind herself of that but…it brought her no comfort; all her thoughts were of failure. Yet, she couldn’t fail. The Carsons had used their own money to pay the $440-dollar fee required to take the exam. Claire had promised she would pay them back out of her paychecks each month. Of course, there would be no paychecks if she didn’t get her 75%.

The Carsons were so confident she would do well. They had planned a party next month to celebrate her “victory” of graduating from school and getting her license to practice. They were sure she would be spending next month looking for her first job as a hygienist!  Ms. Alexandra had already promised to come to the party! It was hard to imagine- Ms. Alexandra was actually taking time off from her own private life to celebrate with Claire. Would her own parents be proud or still think she was a waste of space? These thoughts brought on the tears again.

Stop that. Stop that… The Carsons are your parents now.

Claire smiled, looked at her fish and took a deep breath. Yes, the Carsons were her parents and they were proud of her hard work. Claire was putting her feet on the ground just as Davy ran in screaming excitedly for her.

It’s pancakes mommy. Pancakes with raspberries because it’s your special hard day!


Claire couldn’t resist Davy’s excitement. She grabbed his hand and they both ran down the hallway and jumped off the bottom staircase onto the floor with a huge STOMP. They rushed into the kitchen and Davy fed his mommy her first taste of pancakes. Looking into his happy face, Claire felt happy too- at least for now.

After breakfast, Claire’s stomach felt a little queasy, but she went upstairs and spent sometimes just looking at her fish and remembering how hard she had worked. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine her fish, and lots of other fish, just swimming calmly through her mind.

Mrs. Carson came upstairs and tied her hair in a French braid. It was Claire’s favorite hair style and they had picked it together as something like a good luck charm. She could tug it gently if she got scared during the test to remember she was loved.

When Claire entered her class room she noticed that all the students looked nervous. She wasn’t the only one!  As the exam was handed out, Claire gave her braid a small tug and felt better. She sent a small prayer to God for help, picked up her pencil, and began the test.

I don’t deserve love. But, the Carsons and Davy do love me. I won’t let them down. I will pass this test.

Claire is bright and hard- working but she would never be where she is now, taking a test to launch her future as a dental hygienist without the Carsons. There aren’t enough foster parents. Consider taking a social advocacy step and learning what the procedures are for becoming a foster parent.  You could call your local Child Protective Service office and talk to their foster parent coordination. Or, you could look at the materials on the National Foster Parent Association website at: . Even if you decide you can’t be a foster parent yourself, you could write a letter to the editor to encourage others. Here is an example you could take if you wanted:

Our county currently has many children and teens in need of a temporary or permanent home. To learn about becoming a foster parent, you could call this number…..(insert number) and ask to speak with the foster care coordinator.  You could also go to the National Foster Parent Association website to learn more about what foster parents get out of helping youth in need. If you have a loving heart and have time to teach a child or teen how to be a good citizen of this world, act now. You are needed.


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