As exciting and dramatic as it sounds, this week, reliving my youth is anything but. At the ripe old age of (fill in the blank with any age older than nineteen), I have just had braces applied to my teeth–for the third time!
After surviving the discomfort of getting braces while suffering from a cold (it is hard to breathe when you are mostly upside down and have a plastic guard in your mouth), I had to go home and eat soup. I had forgotten how tender my teeth would be with the braces on. In fact, a week later, I am still not able to bite through a sandwich or an English muffin. I received a very helpful checklist from the dentist, detailing what foods I can and can’t eat.I was slightly offended that the list was in cartoon form, but I guess I am not really their target audience. While I am past the stage of enjoying Starburst and licorice, I was dismayed to see pizza crust on the list. And popcorn and nuts? With sadness, I brought my high-protein almond packs and bags of microwave popcorn home from school this week, having resigned myself to living on soup and yogurt at lunch time.
To make matters worse, I also have occasional facial blemishes (commonly known as zits) and silver, wiry hair popping up on the top of my head. Is it any wonder I am confused half the time? My body can clearly not decide what age it actually is. Thankfully, Madeleine L’Engle (I know–I quote her all the time, but she is my favorite author), says:
I am still every age that I have ever been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be. Because I was once a rebellious student, there is, and always will be in me the student crying out for reform. . . Far too many people misunderstand what putting away childish things means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old, or a thirteen-year-old, or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. . . if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy and be fifty-one, then I will learn what it really means to be grownup. (L’Engle 199-200).
Although I am considerably younger than fifty-one, now is as good a time as any to practice thankfulness, which will hopefully lead to joy. After all, braces are definitely a first-world problem.
In the meantime, I think I’ll start taking notes on what it feels like to get braces. Maybe I’ll even get brave enough for aqua bands, like the girl in the picture. Who knows? Perhaps a middle-grade protagonist is in my future.
L’Engle, Madeleine. A Circle of Quiet. HarperCollins Publishers. 1972.