When the book you chose means more than you thought.

Gracie came home the week before Thanksgiving break with a humongous book that was marked for 4th-graders. She instantly bombarded me with how cool the book was and that it was pictures and words together and the girl’s TEETH get knocked out and she gets braces and she talks about how sad her life is, but it’s FUNNY, MOM and did she mention how cool it was?

The book was Smile, a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier. Gracie ate dozens of pages in single sittings. She devoured chapter after chapter and then would come and tell me again how much she adored this book. Gracie loves reading and the two of us will admittedly fight over who gets to read that night’s chapter book out loud, but this was new: Gracie had never disappeared to read more than her daily allotment so consistently; Gracie is just as happy read a chapter or two from six different books rather than sit and read one book in a single sitting. I was so happy. I savored the experience because I was sure it was the beginning of a new trend.

Folks, I had no idea how damn prescient that book was going to be.

Gracie came bouncing into the house last Wednesday morning full of good news. The girls’ dad had taken them to the dentist the day before for their teeth-cleaning. Gracie’s good news? Her 12-year-molars were coming in early. (To Gracie’s demented brain, that means she wins the race! Or something.) Her prize? She gets to go to an orthodontist sometime in the next six months because the kid needs a spacer to stretch the size of her teeny tiny jaw. She has no room for any new teeth.

My jaw just about hit the floor. The dentist has been preparing me for the possibility from the first time he saw Gracie’s mouth. Still, I can’t help thinking the very idea of stretching her bones isn’t a little bit barbaric. Why can’t we just pull two un- less important teeth to make room? I had two permanent teeth pulled when I was in 4th grade and had my braces installed. Worked just fine for me! (And if you think I’m not serious about asking the dentist and the othodontist that question, you’re nuts. It seems a viable – and cheaper – option.)

Still. Gracie’s jazzed. I explained to her finally that it meant she would need a spacer and I tried to explain what that was, with my own limited knowledge that is. I told her she might need braces and that’s when her smile finally faltered. “Will they hurt?” she asked. “Yes, probably at first,” I told her. “But your teeth will be nice and pretty and perfectly straight when everyone else is just getting their braces put on,” I finished.

It was the same line my mom used on me, small comfort in the middle of enormous amounts of pain. I am so thankful that Gracie read that book when she did because now she knows a lot more than she would have. I might even pick up a copy so I can make the right references to help my baby out. Just as long as we get to skip the step where she knocks out her two front teeth.

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5 Responses to “When the book you chose means more than you thought.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Love that Gracie found a book she really loves and just in time too. Ahhh the expander – hated it! And it wasn’t me that had one it was boy child. We survived though and you will too.

  2. Agent Torklepants Says:

    Spacers give you a lissssp. It’s best to get it out of the way while she can still pass for cute while having a lisp =]

  3. Mary Says:

    Oh, no, Agent Torklepants! As a speech pathologist, I can verify that lisps are never cute!
    Hopefully that won’t happen and Gracie won’t have to go through a lot of pain. It’s amazing what the orthodontists can do now…YS had a crossbite but it was fixed in a month by wearing rubber bands. My sister had one, and she had to have her jaw broken.

  4. Gayle Says:

    Oh, no. That sounds painful. I hope that Gracie has an easy time with it.

  5. DawnA Says:

    My son had a spacer before braces and it wasn’t terrible. He did have to have braces twice (which we knew going in) but it was well worth it when I see him smile now. I had braces for 4 years (after having adult teeth removed) and think I would have much preferred the spacer to the headgear! Good luck.

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