My 12 year old is getting his braces on right now.
It's a pretty standard childhood rite-of-passage. I wore braces when I was a kid. (Ditto with elastics and the dreaded retainer.) Who knows? You may have done your time in the orthodontic trenches, too.
I didn't think anything of it when one of my other sons got his braces, but I'm a bit more nervous about how my 12 year old – my child who has Aspergers – is going to react, both to the process of getting the braces cemented on his teeth and the inevitable afterpains as his mouth gets used to the new hardware.
We discovered a long time ago that my husband is better suited to the orthodontic beat than I am. He worries just as much as I do about these things, but he doesn't show it. (As I type this, my husband is either pretending to read magazines in the waiting room at the orthodontist's office, waiting for news on how our son is doing; or he's been called in to provide on-the-spot cheerleading and reassurance.)
My husband and my 12 year old have another tough mission ahead of them in the next few weeks: Operation Tooth Extraction. They've been through it together in the past; so I know they can do it again. And as for me? I'll be sitting across town, appreciating the fact that I was wise enough to pick a man who has the right stuff (the ability to be a great dental parent, among other things); and loving the fact that my 12 year old and his dad have always had a super-special bond.
It goes back to the very beginning, in the moments after my son was born. I had sustained a bad tear while giving birth and the midwives were busy attending to me, so my husband held our newborn baby boy for the longest time. I remember my husband speaking softly to him and welcoming him to our family; telling him about his brothers and his sister. This pregnancy (after my previous baby's stillbirth the year before) had been the longest 41 ½ weeks of my life. But now this baby was here, safe, cradled in my husband's arms.
Suddenly I felt safer, too - and ready to face the future as a family.