Monday, April 2, 2012

Harbingers 2: Metal in the Mouth and Ears

I dished out 5k for braces three months ago and it was then, looking at my darling daughter that I felt close to the final transformation. Although she had definitely been developing her young woman's body for some time now. Fall 2010 marked the end of Santa Claus and the coming of "the monthlies" all in one week. So bittersweet. I felt somewhat accomplished in managing to have Santa Claus last that long, but the part that was hilarious to me was that she was willing to let go of Santa rather easily, it was the realization that the Tooth Fairy was not real that really stymied her. I suppose because her tooth fairy was so personal, responding to her notes, and visiting so often? I don't know. Perhaps teeth are personal. When the "jig was up" as it were, I brought out the box of her teeth. I don't know if I'm a weirdo mom saving all my kids' teeth, but it seems like an important part of who they were. I have a cannister of old shark teeth in my drawer, so why not my kids' teeth? In any case, M. was sweet for a moment toward her younger sister asking if she could be K's tooth fairy now. But that lasted one tooth and the job went back to me. It's ok, I like the role.

But, as I said, I find teeth to be very interesting, very personal. So when M. was 10 and running around outside and tripped on a black walnut and smashed her face into the sidewalk, severing her two front teeth in half, it was a moment of shock for me. She ran down to my office holding her 1/2 teeth in her hand and I looked at her and thought, "Now she's permanently broken. There's nothing I can do to fix this." I mean, I wasn't dramatic toward her or anything, they were just teeth. Lots of people have caps and such from accidents and injuries, but there was an overwhelming sense of a greater magnitude of not being able to protect her from permanent damage worse than broken teeth.

M's teeth are encased in metal now. Which in my own 14 year old self, while I hated the feeling of getting my braces tightened, my teeth felt "safe" in the metal. Safe from falling out as they tended to do in my dreams far too often. Braces are that strange passage but a kind of limbo, too. As long as there are braces on her teeth, she's permanently stuck in teen-dom. The peirced ears are another story.

That story starts with my own ten-year old self begging my father for pierced ears "because everyone has their ears pierced, Dad." Wrong answer. My father's wise parenting saw that answer as a huge red flag, so he said, "No. Not until you are 16." On my 16th birthday he woke me up and said, "Let's get your ears pierced." To which I replied, "No. I'm fine. I don't really want them pierced." And I didn't get them pierced until I was 22 and on my own dime and own whim. And that was great.

So am I not as wise a mom? I took M. to the mall on Sunday and she got her ears pierced. I had originally said 14, and capitulated to 13 as a compromise for not having a slumber party with fifteen 7th grade girls (the thought of that still makes me cringe.) But my feeling was that the ear piercing was a right of passage. Most of her friends have had their ears pierced since second or third grade, so it was not a peer pressure kind of choice. But it was an "I'd like to grow up a little" choice. And I felt that I could handle that. She couldn't understand what "the big deal" was anyway. And I said to her, "It's the piercing of your precious body. The body that came from me-- whole and perfect and now it will be pierced." These were my father's words to me, and the eye roll I gave him was well-matched by M's eye roll to me. And I was kind of kidding. But not really. The caveat is in place, however, "Any other piercing you should ever get in your life, you must pay for and sign for yourself." She said, "Oh no mom. I'm totally fine with just my ears." I suppose we'll see about that.

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