We are not allowed to hit our children—even if they deserve it. When we punish them, it needs to be politically correct: Time outs, taking away their electronic devices, no TV, etc., etc. My kids will tell you that I am not so good on the follow through, surprise, surprise. Though, I will confess that after being totally fed up with finding open water bottles (without caps) all over the house, I threw one of them at one of the culprits. All that did was get water all over the kitchen (my wooden blinds are very clean now) and have everyone laugh at me and my anger management issues. So we have to coddle our children and protect them from harm, but then we get them braces.
When I had braces, back in the day when metal was first invented, Dr. Mann (rest his soul) put them on and then, eight months later, took them off. There was a brief period of my having to wear a night brace, but we don’t like to talk about that (I think it is called head gear now). These days, it seems that braces are way more complicated. And there are stages. Son #3 started with a palate expander. I am not sure how these are legal in this country. The orthodontist glues some sort of contraption onto the roof of your precious child’s mouth and then you, the parent, has to insert a key into a teeny tiny hole and turn it several times a night. Isn’t that a form of torture? After a few weeks, they develop a huge space between their front teeth. If they didn’t need braces before, they definitely need them now.
First they only put them on the top teeth or on the bottom teeth. If you are lucky, they go on both. Some parents have them taken off for family simchas, so their kids look better in the pictures (though sometimes, it just doesn’t help…) The kids are frustrated with how long it takes; they cannot eat sticky candy (most do anyway); their braces hurt their mouths; something breaks; something doesn’t feel right; “when can I get these things off??”
And with all of these complaints, you have to take them to the doctor every few weeks. Interesting because when we were pregnant with these kids, WE had to go to the doctor every few weeks…coincidence? I spend more time in the orthodontist’s office than I do at the supermarket, and I am at the supermarket a lot. I was especially excited when they put a TV in the waiting room because now I can catch up on all of those episodes of Spongebob Squarepants I have been missing.
Three years pass and son #1 was finally getting his braces off. The appointment was made. The excitement was palpable. And then there was the weather forecast. Snow. Lots and lots of snow on the day of his appointment. As a parent I had two choices: Do I wait for the doctor’s office to call me and probably push his appointment off a week or so? Could this be the punishment for all of those water bottles all over the house? Or, do I be the mom that I am and get on that phone first thing in the morning and make sure they make the appointment earlier so he doesn’t rip those things off of his teeth himself? Ya, I called. They are off. I am the best mom. But he still won’t throw the water bottles out. At least he didn’t report me to DYFS….
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow