When did this change? She couldn’t wait to get braces — but the price changed, too

When I was 13, getting braces was a drudgery no child would willingly anticipate or take on. They were ugly, they made you look different — “Hey metal mouth,” and “Is that railroad tracks in your mouth?” We’ve known for several years that Daughter would eventually need braces. Her teeth took on a life of their own, refusing to conform to dental standards. It was easy for me to push braces to the back of my mind, right next to paying for college. Sure, there was that “starter” round — they call them spacers, to prepare teeth the painful manipulation that’s sure to follow.
The world has gone upside down. In her universe, 2020, she hoped she’d get braces, the sooner the better. She couldn’t give me a direct reason, but I suspected it was somewhere between status symbol and being “different” enough to stand out.
The day came when she arrived from her spacers check-up announcing, “I need braces! I need braces!” I’ve seen her do cartwheels, during her gymnastic days, but she resisted the temptation.
Her next question: “When?”
Her Mother told her there was an appointment at the end of the month.
“That’s forever,” she wailed. I checked my calendar. It was less than 3 weeks away. I tend to think of “forever” as slightly longer, like the time spent waiting for AAA to come give you a jump and inevitably sell you a new battery.
Lucky break: An appointment opened up next week. Cartwheel alert.
Ta-da! She walked in the door, in all of her metal mouth glory, smiling widely, lips tucked back. I didn’t even ask how long she’d wear them, but we have already been back to the orthodontist once to repair a wire.
When I looked in her mouth, I saw dollar signs. I did the math in my head, considering our up-front payment and what we’d need to pay monthly to retire the debt by the end of the year. Not bad.
Uh, think again. The actual amount was twice the price I’d estimated. I must have been using the 1975 price for full braces for my calculations.
I’m calling this sentence a transition because the next couple of paragraphs don’t have anything to do with braces,
We’re on vacation this week. It’s a lovely oceanfront condo. The beach is steps away. There’s a great pool, with one of those “rapids” doo-dads.
This year, we figured Daughter was old enough to bring a friend.
The weather forecast for this week was disappointing, to say the least — even disastrous. We were prepared for 7 days of rain, with maybe a peek of sun here and there. Daughter’s Mother and I brought our slickers to fish in the rain. I bought a new Uno deck. She ordered me a new jigsaw puzzle from Amazon (try finding one in a store).
Surprise! his is our third beautiful, ideal beach day in a row. I love it when the weather guessers are wrong, and boy were they wrong.
Here’s my problem: Daughter and her friend have been in the ocean, a couple of times. They need an adult with them to go in the ocean, which does limit their options. They’ve spent time in the pool. But they haven’t emerged from their room during prime beach time. In my day, parents would be scraping me up off the sand as the sun set.
It’s Netflix, make-up, the boys from upstairs they met at the pool … It’s not like they don’t already spend hours each on social media.
Today, we’re on the beach. Mother got a text. They were getting ready to emerge from their room, but they had a problem. Daughter’s friend brought only one swimsuit (despite an entreaty to bring more). It was still damp from yesterday. (Isn’t that always the case?) Daughter and her friend had an idea: Use the hair dryer. Great plan — until Daughter’s friend burned the bikini bottoms, right in front. Her only pair. And she brought only gym shorts that would not hold up in the ocean (literally).
I dunno. I guess many things in life truly are different, from having a mouthful of braces to spending time at the pool or on the beach.
Mother and I were talking. Maybe next year, she could stay with her grandmother while we went on vacation. She’d have her own room, but no ocean view. Wonder if she’d notice the difference?


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