As I was sitting in the dentist office, watching Jackson get sealants put on his teeth, it occurred to me what he’d asked just moments before. “So what are they doing?” He’d asked, glancing around the small room, eyeing all the very fancy, very expensive equipment. “It’s nothing,” I said, getting comfy in the Mom Chair. “Okay, cool,” he said then he sat back and relaxed. Truth be told it really wasn’t a big deal, the sealants. They just help protect his adult teeth from cavities, something certainly not offered to me as a kid. But he was walking into an unknown, and he was fine, as long as I was there. I’d never really given him a real answer though, and he would have understood. He just didn’t care. He just knew he trusted me. And the dentist. And he’d be okay.
About an hour later, while he sort of yelled out, in a squeaky, pre-pubescent man-boy voice, “You lied to me!” things were a bit different. You see, I had made him back-to-back visits at the dentist office. He knew this, and he also knew that the second visit was a consolation with the orthodontist. We went to a consultation with another orthodontist about six months ago, and that orthodontist wanted to wait to start work, so we did. We’ve always known he would need braces one day. The first time he went to the dentist, as a bright-eyed, eager, two-year-old, they told us upfront, “Start saving for his orthodontia treatment.” We didn’t, “start saving” as it were, so with the first ortho came the surprise of the cost, so we decided to “shop around.”
Once I got home though, and did the research, I realized there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done. In fact braces, on average, cost about $3,500. That was even at the Georgia School of Orthodontics, which was recommended to us as a cost-saving measure. So when, right after his consultation, they hit us with a price-tag of $3,000 at his dentist, the one we already know and trust, Jerimiah and I were all, “Tell us where to sign!” It seemed too good to be true, but it wasn’t. That’s when we were gathering our things, Jackson having already been through a rough “sealant” procedure where they had to redo a couple of them because he is a “salivator”. And another 30 minutes in the ortho chair. It was nearly 6:00 pm, and the Ortho turned to us and said, “Great, let’s get started.” We were like, “Okay,” as we walked to the lobby to sign papers, and give all our money away. Then Jackson piped up, “I’m not getting braces today, right Mommy?” I assured him that he was correct, then the Ortho was all, “No. No actually, we’re gonna go ahead and stick them on the top teeth today.” That’s when the squeaky yell heard by all in the office came, “YOU LIED TO ME!” And that’s when I realized I was a horrible mommy.
I try to set us up for success, as a family, as often as I can. This just wasn’t an example of me doing that. There are others. Many others. But the thought of actually doing that day, was so far off my radar, that I’m sure my chin also hit the floor when the doctor said that. I just had no one to accuse of lying to me in that situation. I was the trusted adult. I was the liar.
Truth be told, after the little squeaky yell, Jackson actually took it all in great stride, and by the time we were leaving, him with a full set of upper brackets in “Gryffindor” colored rubber bands, and us with a lighter wallet, we were all quite satisfied. And in fact, Christina, the Ortho Assistant (who by the way did all the work, what does an Orthodontist do again? I’m kidding I know the answer, but for real, yay Christina!) said Jackson was “the best” patient and such a “great kid,” yeah, even with the panicked, squeaky, lobby yell.
So just like that we’re the parents of a pre-pubescent boy with braces. And I’ve been transported back to my own brace face days, and I’m trying to help him the best I can. And we will get through this phase, just like we have all the rest. A little trial. A little error. And little yelling, sure. But a lot of patience and care.