I took Tre and Max to the orthodontist yesterday. The dentist was a bit worried about the spacing of Tre’s teeth, and Max has an underbite that could capture small elephant herds. It’s adorable – at least, I think so. Max, however, is unhappy with it, and keeps asking me to make his lower teeth go behind his upper teeth, like everyone else. I’m amazed by this request, because this is the same child who misplaces his own dinner when sitting right there in front of it, yet he noticed this detail of orthodontia all on his own.
Anyhow, the orthodontist took X-rays of the boys’ teeth, peered in their mouths and took measurements with his little slide ruler thing. Then he rolled over to me on his round rolling stool to give me the facts.
Tre’s teeth look just like a 10 year old boy’s teeth should. No problems there. They’d like to keep an eye on him, just to be sure. Wouldn’t want any
opportunities for financial gain orthodontic issues to sneak past.
Then he turned to the topic of Max’s mouth. A tiny smile of joy slipped past his professional demeanor. I could swear his pupils formed little dollar signs for just a moment.
“Now, there’s the underbite – which I really don’t like to correct until the permanent teeth come in on top – but if you look here at the X-rays,” he slid Max’s films over a light box imbedded in the table, “here’s something REALLY interesting.” He pointed at the shadowy outlines of his permanent teeth, deep under his baby teeth. “See that? I’m not sure, but it LOOKS like he may have more than one set of permanent teeth in some places.” I peered down at the images.
“Yeah, that’s entirely possible. I had extra teeth when I was a kid. I had to have some pulled.”
“You DID?” He turned to his assistant, “Write that down: ‘Mom had extra teeth.’” He all but rubbed his hands together in glee.
We made a plan for getting better X-rays, to determine what we’re actually dealing with here, and the boys and I headed out the door. I looked at Max, and thought about his extra teeth, just like mine.
I’ve always liked the fact that I was weird in that way. My extra teeth came poking through my gums before I hit an age when that would have been horrifying. I was nine or so, still young enough to feel distantly related to the sharks. I decided my extra teeth made me somewhat mystical and dangerous.
Of course, they were just extra teeth. And it’s not exciting to have teeth pulled for any reason. I suppose I should feel rather sober about the reality of what I’ve passed down to my poor son.
But I don’t.
I still think it’s kind of cool. Of course, I’m not facing down the barrel of another tooth extraction right now, but my first reaction was a bizarre sort of…pride.
It made me think about my ex. He has these…ears. They aren’t small, and the earlobes sort of jut away from his head in a way that defies gravity. His ears are prime targets for teasing, and he often heard comments on them.
But he thought his ears were great. They were just like his grandfather’s ears. His grandfather had EIGHTEEN CHILDREN, and none of them got his ears. But my ex did. They made him special, somehow. A standout in a huge chaotic family.
And he thought they were cool.
The day Raphael was born, before his SHOULDERS were out, my ex looked at him and blurted out,
“HE HAS MY EARS!”
And he did.
And my ex thought it was very very cool.
I shrugged it off at the time, but I think I understand a little better now.
On the one hand, poor Max. Here’s one more thing for him to have to contend with.
On the other hand, that’s my boy. He and I, both distantly related to the sharks, both of us a little mysterious.
And very very cool.
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