Friday, July 2, 2010

My Wild and Wonderful Firstborn

I have an announcement to make: The Cleaning Fairy finally showed up at my house! Wahoo!I am so thrilled, enough time has passed since the beginning of motherhood that my offspring are starting to develop the ability to help me control the chaos that swirls through our home.

Last week on mopping day this vision suddenly appeared and offered to do the job for me. I thought I was dreaming, but it was real! She had also brought her assistant, who helped with vacuuming. It was awesome.

I wish I had the energy to wrangle this pair 24-7, because they have a tendency to create chaos more than repair it. But I'll take the bits and pieces that come my way as hope that an orderly house exists somewhere in my future.

At the age of eight, Boo continues to demonstrate a keen interest in critters: warm or cold blooded, and even bugs. Here she shows off a giant cave cricket she found near the country house. I am convinced she has a future as a veterinarian, herpetologist (reptiles) or entymologist (bugs). This is convenient considering we live in the same town as one of the premier vet schools in the nation.

I love that she has such a keen interest in anything science related. I had thought to school her at home for third grade, and one of my reasons was to help foster this interest. I don't think we are going to home-school after all, but I think we will still do lab experiments and science projects whenever possible.

I am so proud of how this young lady has matured since beginning second grade. Three weeks into the school year, she had the lovely distinction of being the first of her friends to get braces. For anyone wondering, I would NOT recommend orthodontic treatment for an active seven year old. We thought it was a necessary evil because the shifting teeth allowed room for new adult teeth to come in, but after having gone through it, I am still not convinced the benefits outweighed the frustrations. I guess I'm glad we did it, but I feel like I added stress to her childhood that maybe didn't have to have happened.

In the course of this treatment we learned another way our firstborn stands out in a crowd. She will NOT be getting something like NINE adult teeth. I have seen the x-rays, they are definitely NOT forming, and apparently they should be by now. Suddenly I started hearing statements like, "Oh, yeah, the Burdine side of the family has a genetic tendency toward missing teeth...." and "See, I still have some of my baby teeth."

Awesome. I guess I had heard it a long time ago when we were dating, but I assumed it was a recessive gene and that my super awesome teeth gene would kick its butt when the time came to make babies. I was so wrong. Nine nonexistent teeth! Now I'm thinking we'd better start a hedge fund (I have no idea what that is, but the name sounds right for what I want) just to cover dental expenses for my children.

However, about that orthodontic treatment, I have to say, I have never been less thrilled to get so much for my money.

The first eight weeks of braces, we were back at the orthodontist six times to repair broken appliances and reposition brackets. She never really got any momentum going on the treatment until after Christmas, when the doctor made the statement, "I don't know, she could have been done by now if we hadn't had so much trouble at the beginning."

Yeah, that really made me feel better. Because I was truly about to have him remove everything and forget the whole thing if we had any more instances of knocking off brackets on the car seat, the pack-n-play, or simply pulling the thing out of her mouth because she was incessantly playing with it with her tongue. If you are going to treat a child, the appliance had better be child-proof.

Anyway. At least he never once charged me extra. And after that visit, we never had any more problems. In fact, everything happened the way it should: the palate was spread, and the teeth just to the right and left of her front teeth were given space to come in. But still. I am going to think long and hard before allowing this treatment on any of my other children.

The last week of school, after eight months of maturing through this process, I took her in to get the brackets removed. The doctor looked at them, grunted approvingly, then turned to me and said, "I would like to put two more brackets on those new teeth to move them so the teeth next to them can come in."

Are you kidding me???

My heart breaks for the road yet to be traveled by this wild and precious child. Because, did I mention? In addition to the whole missing teeth drama, this was just round one of braces for her. She will get to do it again in another five years or so.

But in that moment, she was my hero. She took it all in stride, shrugged off the disappointment, and moved on. We waited a month, went on vacation, and came back trying to have a good attitude about what was to come next. And I totally forgot the appointment last week, as I mentioned a few days ago. So, after eight more days of waiting, today was finally the day.

And I remembered to take her.

And today's comment from the doctor? "Yeah, we'll just do these two brackets, then we'll make her a retainer, then she'll be good to go for a few years. I hate retainers, but..."

Do you ever hope there are extra special prizes somewhere for the moms who have to make their kids do things that are good for them, even though nobody really wants to go through it? I so wish I could have spared her any pain at all, but it was within our reach to prevent teeth coming in way out of position, so how could we knowingly not take preventive action?

So the cost breakdown went like this. $1350 (pretax money, thankfully!) for two brackets and a palate spreader, monthly checkups included. Extras, for no additional charge: at least 8-10 (I lost count) emergency repair visits, three replacement brackets, spreader repair, spreader replacement. Three phone consultations when I was at the end of my rope. Two more brackets, not part of the original plan, plus monthly checkups. And now, a bonus retainer. All included in the price. For the first time in my life, I wish we didn't need so much added value for our investment.

Boo complains her fair share about these braces. I find it challenging to stay positive, because I want to complain for her. She believes she deserves rewards after appointments, in the form of McDonald's or Littlest Pet Shop toys. And I find myself agreeing with her, wanting somehow to soothe either her pain or my conscience.

Despite this, however, the character development I have seen in her through this process is priceless. She has experience now in being patient with something. She has a frame of reference for delayed gratification, for working through discomfort, for being responsible about personal hygiene.

Believe me, she still has a long way to go. I'm actually glad about that, because it means I still have a job. But I am proud of how far she has come.

Now if I could just find a way to grow her character as it relates to getting along with her brother. Because seriously, the two of them are killing me with their bickering and carrying on. But that's another story.

1 comment:

  1. "Do you ever hope there are extra special prizes somewhere for the moms who have to make their kids do things that are good for them, even though nobody really wants to go through it?"

    o my gosh. yes! yes! yes! you put it perfectly. and i love how you love Boo. she tugs my heart strings all the time.


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