Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Cost of Comfort

$5,000.

5K. 5 Large. 5 Gees.




In this day and age, that's not exactly an embarassment of riches.

The acquisiton of such, for most of us, would not change our lives significantly.

We could maybe pay off a credit card or two. Lay some new carpet. Buy a coveted gewgaw for ourselves, one for the spouse and maybe even one for the kids. Or perhaps pay for a nice family vacation, provided the family is not too large, nor the destination too far flung.

But we couldn't quit our jobs, or send our kids through college, or start a business.

And yet, put in the proper perspective, it's quite a windfall.

Consider...

$5,000 is roughly equal to:

~5 Mortgage payments
~10 months worth of groceries (give or take)
~25 seasons of Little League
~68 bottles of Chateau Margaux Pavillon Rouge
~100 tanks of gas (depending on fuel efficiency)
~100 months of high speed internet service
~167 pedicures
~208 tubes of Dior Addict Lipstick
~333 paperbacks

(not necessarily listed in order of importance)

In other words, it's not a king's ransom, but it's not chump change either.

And just why am I waxing philosophic about this particular sum? Well, $5,000 is the amount of money that my oldest child will soon be wearing in his mouth.

A mouth that may or may not see the benefit of a toothbrush on any given day.

A mouth at which small, hard balls are routinely hurled with all the force that the average 12 year old boy can muster.

A mouth that has been elbowed, kneed and head-butted, mostly by accident but sometimes on purpose.

A mouth into which strange objects are still occasionally inserted, despite the knowledge that said object might not come out the same way it went in.

A mouth that still has a good many years of testosterone overload syndrome to get through, during which, the likelihood of encountering a fist at some point is pretty substantial.

Still...I can't not spend the money.

If you saw my poor child's teeth, you'd understand. He was a thumb-sucker you see. I tried...LORD how I tried to get him to take a pacifier. He would have none of it. Short of amputating his thumb, there was nothing I could do to stop him sucking it.

And Jesus, he looked like innocence personified curled on his side, cheeks flushed with sleep, thumb tucked firmly into his lush, pink, pouty little mouth.

Until he turned 8 and then he just looked goofy.

But I understood. I sucked my thumb until I was a teenager. My parents did everything to get me to stop, but the compulsion was too strong. I sucked it even though they hid every scrap of satin in the house. I sucked it even though they painted it with that wretched stuff that was supposed to miraculously cure thumbsucking or your money back. I sucked it even though other kids laughed.

And the more they tried to get me to stop, the more anxious I became and more I needed to suck my thumb.

I didn't do any of that stuff to my son. I just didn't have the heart.

Not all of it is my fault though...there is a bright side. If you can call a congenitally recessed jaw a bright side. Still, it takes some of the blame off of my shoulders and I can't complain about that. This jaw thing is partially to blame for the degree of malocclusion. That will require an appliance called a "Herbst". He will also require a palette expander to repair his palette, which was pushed up and in from the pressure exerted by his thumb.

Well, not only his thumb.

He also did this weird thing with his hand and his wrist while he was sucking his thumb. He would hold his wrist in the thumb sucking hand, exerting even more pressure on his teeth and palette. I had no idea why he did that, but like the thumb sucking, it was a very strong urge. I had to buy him short sleeved shirts and pajamas, or ones on which the sleeves could easily be pushed up. On the rare occasions that I mistakenly dressed him in something restrictive, he would panic and thrash about, as if I had put him in a straight jacket.

Years later, when looking at pictures of himself, he commented about how he used to "smell his arm" while sucking his thumb. Weird. But my youngest sister rubbed her eyebrow slap off (that's Southern for, "all the way") while sucking her thumb so I suppose he comes by his erm...quirk...honestly.

He will also need headgear, which he will have to wear at least 12 hours a night. I can't tell you how I look forward to that battle.

From beginning to end, we are looking at about 36 months, possibly a little more, depending on how well he responds to the therapy, and how dedicated he is about wearing it.

But you know what? Part of me is really excited.

I needed braces as a child, and I didn't get them. My problems weren't nearly so severe, and my parents just didn't have the money. But I have always been self-conscious of my teeth and that's a terrible thing to live with amid all the other really horrifying crap that happens when you're a teenager.

He's going to have a beautiful smile. I'll make sure of it.

So...is there a point here? Ummmm....probably.

When we walked in to the orthodontist's office for a consultation he took one look at Pre-Pubescent One and said wryly, but not unkindly "Thumb sucker, eh?" I just nodded my head morosely. Then he said, "What about....10?" I said, "Eight, actually." I was absurdly happy to be able to refute his guess.

I told him about trying to get him to take a pacifier. I expected recriminations, honestly. But what he said surprised me.

"Welllllllllll. It's hard to get a kid who's really determined to suck his thumb to stop, unless you want to resort to torture. It's right there on the end of his hand, afterall. You can't really take it away or wean him off it can you?"

I felt better, somehow.

So I guess my point could be that we Moms heap enough guilt on our own heads without borrowing any more.

Or it could be that if you can kindly and gently encourage your little one to take a paci or give up the thumb, you just might find yourself 208 lipsticks richer for it.

Or even that....while 5 Large might be the cost of comfort, it's also the price of self-confidence.

I consider it quite a bargain.

7 Comments:

  • At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    You can't really put a price on a terrific smile and hopefully, he'll learn to brush regularly and it will last him a life time, unlike the Dior lipstick. Or carpet. Money well spent.

     
  • At 12:44 PM, Blogger Bimbo said…

    I was in pediatric dentistry as a surgical tech, so please let me offer a couple things to meditate on:

    Orthodontics is a lot less expensive than ongoing psychiatry. No, really. The negative effects of what we do as parents to get our kids to stop sucking their thumb (or tongue-thrusting, another habit that drives parents batty - less frequent but just as damaging to dentition) is more involved and damaging than just letting them have their comfort to be paid for later. Seriously, studies have shown.

    I'm not a big fan of the Herbst. It's efficacy isn't very good because KIDS WON'T WEAR THEM. No one gets made fun of for braces or retainers anymore. They're too common. The appearance Herbsts give you is ridicule grand central and what's more, they make speech impossible. Unlike braces or a retainer, you don't forget they're in your mouth. Wearing them is wearing a constant awareness. My advice would be to consult another orthodonist -Herbst is kinda old school and a second opinion never hurts. (Not to say your doc isn't good.) The deal is, your son's got to be onboard for treatment to be effective: wearing appliances, maintaining good hygiene. It's the kids who are anti that face the most difficulty and it actually makes the treatment longer (=$$). i.e. Not wearing this appliance leads to the need for another appliance; Braces are food traps so not brushing when you wear braces significantly increases risk of decay.

    Ah, motherhood... And we thought teething sucked.

     
  • At 12:49 PM, Blogger Bimbo said…

    My bad! I just clicked on the Herbst link to see what they're up to. They're cementing them in?! Looks like he'll be wearing one whether he wants to or not. At least they don't have the Frankenstein appearance anymore. Yeesh.

     
  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger In the Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    I confess, I've been a lurker, but I just realized you're back in blogland. Yay!

     
  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    A wise investment, if you ask me. Twenty years ago my parents dropped at least 2 grand on my teeth, palette expander and all, and my teeth still look great. But remember, getting him to wear the headgear will be tough, but getting him to wear his retainer will be worse. ;)

     
  • At 1:50 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    Ah...this post takes me back to my braces days. My top row of teeth were terribly crooked, but my bottom row was fine so I only had to have braces on the top. I had a few too many teeth on top and had to have my permanent molars removed to allow my other teeth room to shift, which was horrible, but I lived. Obviously.

    I had a neck gear, which really wasn't so bad, becuase I only had to wear it at night. And I don't think I had a Herbst, but I had something similar, and it was so I could hook the head gear into my mouth. That, of everything I had done in order to straighten my teeth, was the worst part. The bar that went across from tooth to tooth, like the one that was pictured on the website you linked to, cut into my tongue. It was extremely painful and after a few months I had to have it removed because it was gouging my tongue so badly. I still have a cut in my tongue -- like a scar but it looks like a slit -- where it cut my tongue.

    Yuck. But I have wonderfully straight teeth and I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I had to. It was worth every penny, and I always let my mom know that. :)

     
  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Mrs. Who said…

    I just discovered your funny, great blog and was reading the older ones when I found this one. I wanted to let you know that it is never too late to get braces. I hated my crooked teeth and got braces as an adult. We paid a small amount each month (we are not rich either) and I got them off when I was 50. I didn't care how old I was. I have beautiful, straight teeth! So, pay for your son's braces, then get your own. You will be glad you did!

     

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