By Leanne Kleinmann
Like lots of other 8-year-old boys this summer, my son is all about sports. Soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming. But the highlight of the summer was his baseball team. This year they’ve graduated to kid-pitch, far beyond T-ball or even the gentle pitches of the coaches/ parents last year.
Little did I know that the first year of kid-pitch baseball would be so treacherous. At this age, they (sort of) know how to pitch, catch and bat, but their gangly legs and arms haven’t quite caught up to their brains. In nearly every game, kids got on base because they got hit with a pitch. Bruises happen. Batting helmets are not optional.
So I was only mildly surprised when, one Saturday morning after practice, I found Tomas lying on the couch in a blood-stained T- shirt with an ice bag on his mouth. “Busted lip,” his dad said.
Actually, it was way more than that. When Tomas pulled the ice pack away, one of his front teeth was conspicuously out of line, the other one at a strange angle. His big, beautiful, permanent front teeth.
I had to walk quickly out of the room, so Tomas wouldn’t see my eyes fill with tears. You see, when I was a freshman in college, I got hit in the mouth with a field hockey stick (yes, I wore a mouthguard, but it was a teammate who hit me in a halftime huddle), and lost one of my front teeth. I endured a root canal so painful that it made childbirth seem easy; I’m on the third crown, and it’s never really been right. It’s the one vanity that has obsessed me since college: At some point in my life, I hope I make enough money to make my teeth look perfect again.
So when I saw my only child’s perfect teeth hanging at bloody angles, it was a powerful flashback.
Fortunately we were able to find Dr. Betsy, our endlessly patient pediatric dentist, to come in on a Saturday afternoon and splint Tomas’ teeth back in place. Unlike my awful experience all those years ago, she’s terrifically competent, and I think it was harder on us to watch than on the patient himself.
It’s not lost on me that a loose tooth or two isn’t the same as a cancer diagnosis or even a broken arm. Given the progress of dental technology, it doesn’t look like he’ll lose his teeth, even if he has to have root canals.
But, beyond the specifics of his dental issues, what I know now with blinding clarity is how desperately I want to save him from the pain and unhappiness I’ve experienced, even if it’s something as (relatively) inconsequential as a broken tooth.
Not possible, I know. And that’s the most painful lesson of all.
On the Web
When did you hurt for your child most? Go to iDivamemphis and add your comment. Leanne Kleinmann is editor of skirt! magazine. E-mail [email protected] or call 901.521.1927.
Originally published by Leanne Kleinmann .
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