For the first day of Spring Break, I took my children to the dentist. Worst vacation plan EVER.
For Jake it was a nice change since he just got to play in the kids room the whole time. It wasn’t too bad for me either; I got to catch up on People after all. And neither of the boys had cavities, which is very cool. But then she told me they need sealants – which is just another appointment really, nothing major. And she talked about the potential orthodontia in our future. About five minutes before that I had looked up from my magazine and told Jake, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” It must have been my subconscious warning me of what was to come. I made the appointments for the sealants and was then bombarded with questions from the boys in the car about how much braces hurt.
I was silent for a very long 20 seconds or so. I had flashbacks to seventh grade when they put my top braces on in two steps and I actually had to go to school with just the brackets glued to my teeth one day – no wire connecting them. It looked ridiculous and people told me so. Then I had flashbacks to the pain – oh the pain. I almost cried thinking of the way it feels when they first put them on you and you feel your head is being squeezed from the inside out by sharp metal.
“It only hurts for a day or so after they first put them on,” I told the boys reassuringly, and then the flashbacks to the monthly checkups. And I was almost crying again. Dear God the checkups. The memory of the twisting and tightening of the wires made me squirm in the driver’s seat while I tried to figure out how to answer them. And then the maddening disappointment of getting out of school to ride 30 minutes to the orthodontist and then to get to eat out at a restaurant only to discover you can’t eat the food because it hurts too horribly to bite down. And then the day that I actually had to return to school with rubber bands from the front top teeth to the bottom. No teenager should have to endure this.
That’s what I was thinking in the car while these scenes were bombarding my mind like the memory of some distant torture and my children were hanging on my every word trying to prepare themselves for the inevitable. What was I thinking having children? We barely survive our own little traumas, and then we bring children into the world and have to go through it all over again with them. The braces, the embarrassments, the unrequited love. Yes, this is what going to the dentist got me today. Not one single pleasant update about Brad or Jen. Not even the Disney World picture of Tom, Katie, and Suri made up for the trauma of those flashbacks to braces. If there were ANY way to keep my children from that barbaric practice, I’d do it. Since I can’t, look for two crying people to emerge from the orthodontist’s office in a few years – a good looking boy and his poor, sad mother literally feeling his pain.