Bracing Myself

When I was pregnant with my first child, I wondered about so many things. Since there was no way to predict temperament or personality of Baby Walsh while in utero, I instead pondered all the possible physical attributes of my future child. I had waited 30 years to meet this mysterious person, and I could barely contain myself. To make matters worse, I had access to the internet. So I started obsessing. About everything.

I first wanted to know whether my child was going to be a boy or a girl. I read books that provided hints in determining the sex. I did the old ring and thread trick. I had strangers check out my derriere for clues. Not a single Old Wives’ Tale went ignored as I tried desperately to glean this first big big bit of information about my growing passenger.

I was rather embarrassing.

Imagine my excitement a few months later when I headed to the OBGYN for the 20 week “Big Reveal” (a boy!). Mystery solved! You’d think I might stop obsessing then? Hardly.

Next, I focused my research on eye color scenarios, and even busted out the old Punnett Square of odds and probability. After that, I explored dominant and recessive traits relative to the cleft chin (a mainstay amongst my husband’s people). For hours and hours, I stared at ultrasound pictures while trying to decipher bone structure and body shape.

I was a lot of fun back then. Just ask my husband. He’ll tell you.

Yet there was one thing this madwoman never doubted during those entire nine months of pregnancy. My future baby would one day need braces. Lots of them.

Joe and I both represent several textbook chapters of orthodonture anomalies. My own mouth and jaw were once so misaligned that I required countless extractions and wore braces for the better part of seven years. My husband grew up in a very large family, so braces were never really an option. Still, his need for them is still quite apparent if you were to examine his spacing and bite.

Despite my mental readiness for fangled-tooth children, I never once considered the possibility of putting braces on my 7 year old. Yet about a month ago, I received a referral from my dentist who was concerned about possibility of infection due to Danny’s teeth growing in (predictably) askew. There was already discomfort as his teeth started digging into his gums and the roof of his mouth.

That’s when I learned about the new trend in orthodontures. Apparently, it is now normal to slap braces on kids who still believe in the Tooth Fairy. I’ve read up on the reasoning (early correction of a still-forming jaw, helping a kid feel less self-conscious about fangled teeth, etc.). The disadvantages include costlier long-term care and the possibility of a second phase of orthodontures during high school.

I will be taking Daniel to his first consultation this Friday. Oddly enough, my son is thrilled at the prospect. I keep telling him that the doctor won’t be putting braces on that exact day, but he is holding out hope that I am somehow wrong. He peppers me daily with hundreds of questions on “spacers” and “head gear.” He’s been carefully marking squares off the calendar until his appointment as though he was counting down to the final day of school.

As Daniel crossed yet another day off, I noticed my middle son, Jack, sulking in the corner. I asked him what was the matter.

“It’s so not fair. Why does Danny get all the good stuff? Why can’t I get braces, too?”

You will, my son. You will.

And in the meantime, I will be investigating group rates and family orthodonture packages.

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