Brace yourself, son. Twice.

Today I'm going to tell you the heartbreaking saga of two sets of braces and one boy--a story of betrayal, triumph, disappointment, and hope five years in the making.

First, let me take you back to 17 December 2008. Let's see...Obama had just been elected in November. A journalist had just thrown his shoe at President Bush at a press conference in Baghdad days before, remember that? Congress was considering a bailout of the auto industry in Detroit and Bernie Madoff had just been arrested.  Here's where we find our boy Sam, age 10, enjoying life without a care. And here's what I recorded for the purposes of Sam's future therapy:

17 December 2008
Today was not one of my finest mothering moments. Sam had an orthodontist appointment, a follow-up to his getting spacers last week. We knew braces were in the future eventually and that there were a series of appointments leading up to it. The office said something, in passing, about bands and a headgear (remember headgears? I can't believe we haven't progressed orthodontically enough to come up with a better solution than those torture devices). I was a bit fuzzy about the details--and, honestly, so was the orthodontist staff--but told Sam I thought he was getting bands around his back teeth where the headgear would be attached. I reassured him that he was definitely NOT getting braces that day.

He came out of the appointment just under an hour later with a betrayed look in his eyes. He opened his mouth and showed me the source of his displeasure: braces! What?! Somehow I had missed the idea that he would have brackets across his top teeth. Worse, I hadn't prepared Sam AT ALL for the possibility. He managed to make it through the little braces indoctrination session with the dental assistant (what not to eat, how to brush, the scared-straight pictures of gross mouths who didn't take the hygiene advice) but the minute his feet hit the blacktop of the parking lot, the tears came.

Have you ever heard of a worse surprise? Ever? What a spacey Mom. Oy.

So, of course, he took the rest of the day off from school. To go to lunch. To choose books at the library. To look in the mirror and adjust to a mouth of silver.

Personally, I think he rocks the braces and looks very handsome. And after a bit of talking through it, he's on board for the whole braces thing.



This is one of those sagas that was not expected to have a sequel. One and done was our motto. Sure, the early braces concept was never a guarantee but the hope was that they would make room for his future teeth, which would then slip cooperatively into place. Well, apparently someone forgot to tell his rebellious pearly whites that plan! And so today, five years later, we have the next episode we're calling Braces 2: The Return of the Silver Smile. This time around we knew exactly what we were getting into and I didn't make any false guesses.  The staff here were very clear and even used the actual word braces in the appointments leading up to B day.  It didn't mean he was excited about them but he's been a good sport. 

And, yes, he took the rest of the day off of school, got a new book and chose his selection of braces-friendly treats. Mini tradition alert! 



My mom always recited this poem, just as her parents had before her, on the first day of braces for each of us. So here's the traditional first-day-of-braces poem, now on its third generation:

Children with braces
Should wear happy faces
Because it is easy to see
That sooner or later
When their teeth are straighter
What good-looking people they'll be!

(Yeah, it didn't make me feel better when I got braces and it probably didn't help Sam much--since he already IS good looking and all--but it's part of the circle of life, that poem. The tradition continues.)

Did you have braces? Did/do your kids?  Or--help a gal out--what's your best flaky-mother-of-the-year story?