Split Lip

22 Feb

Today, this is what I will remember.

Picking you up at school, lip split, braces skewed.

Despite it all, you are chatting up the nurses in the clinic, regaling them with the same tale you’ll re-tell on the way to your long-suffering orthodontist.

Basketball hard to the face in PE class. Blood, tears, a nurse’s office slip prepared.

But you wouldn’t go. Not until you shot your free throws.

You made them.

At the orthodontist, I see a look of panic when the rookie technician greets you. She’s the jabber of gums, who spent your last appointment poking you with wires, then apologizing, then poking, then apologizing. Rinse. Spit. Repeat.

I warn her that your mouth is hurt, please be careful. Be gentle with my tough free-throw shooting girl.

She isn’t.

You come out in the lobby with a forced smile. Saying too brightly “OK, can we go now?”

I hear your voice begin to crack, and we rush together for the door. We’re not off the front steps of the office before the tears start.

“Mom, she’s still terrible,” you sob.

My apologies tumble fast. “I’m so sorry she hurt you. We’ll get you some Motrin. You can get a slush at Sonic.”

It’s my turn to talk too brightly, trying to dam the tears with false cheer.

“You did not protect her,” the good mother voice hisses.

To silence it, I call the dentist on the way to Sonic. Tell them to make a note on your chart, that hygienist can not work on your mouth any more. Ever. Not again.

“I’m sure she’s trying her best, and I know she needs to learn,” I say, as gently as I can. “But she is not going to do any more learning on my child.”

You smile at the vanquishment of the gum-poker, forgetting the tears.

The good-mother voice does not appease so easily, and reminds me I’m no better than Jabber the Nut. Doing all my learning on you, my first-born.

But I think, this is what I will remember. That even with a bloody lip, you stay to shoot your free throws. Even in the face of incompetence, you show grace, getting out of the office before you let the tears fall.

Maybe it’s enough to let you also remember that I came when you called, that I took your hurt seriously enough to call. Maybe you will remember blended root-beer floats from Sonic And that I said I was so, so sorry.

When you remember today, maybe that will be enough.

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15 Responses to “Split Lip”

  1. queenofhaddock February 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    To be making so many mistakes with your first-born, she’s turned out pretty amazing, I’d say.

  2. Ed Harvey February 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    We don’t just learn on our oldest we also have our first triumphs and watch them have theirs. Stayed to shoot her free throws huh? She must have got that from a couple of great parents!

  3. DP February 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    That good mother voice – DON’T listen to it. It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not really good mother, but more like mommy guilt trip. I, personally, wouldn’t know anything about that voice, what with back tumors and surgery and all. But look how amazing she is…and what a fabulous job you’ve done raising her. She simply asked you to go. Instead, she could have blamed you for taking her to a terrible orthodontist who let a rookie technician work on her mouth. But she didn’t. And you know why? Because you are an awesome mom. And that awesomeness has rubbed off on her.

  4. Elizabeth February 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    Super duper mom, super duper kiddo. My comment here is really trivial, but I AM SO GLAD YOU TOLD US THAT SHE MADE THE SHOTS! not that it would matter if she hadn’t, but I had to know. When you tweeted the mini version of what happened I had to exercise a huge amount of self control not to write back with a “Did she make em?” I don’t know what is tackier, that I had the urge to do that, or that I am divulging it in response to your blogpost. I’m just glad to know. She is heroine either way, but I bet it felt good to make the shots. 🙂

  5. sharpsparks February 22, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    A sweet treat after the orthodontist’s office makes things better and brighter, always. Speaking from a first-born previous brace-wearing perspective, those days with my mom were always memorable for the good things after the appointment.

  6. Colleen February 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    As you know I’ve been struggling over guilt at not protecting my kids enough lately too. It’s a gut-wrenching, sleep-reducing lesson to learn but maybe we’re fortunate that we didn’t have to learn it by tragic consequences as we fumble through and learn on the job. Because of what we’ve experienced, our mama bear defenses are WAY up. And no one will put Mama (or her baby bears) in the corner again.

  7. SHANNON k February 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    That is an awesome story! and Beautiful Mom and Daughter story! Brave daughter! Love you both!

  8. kimberley5949 February 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    While reading your post I recall my personal experience when I was a little girl. When my mom told me that she will bring me to the dentist and I was so scared because my friends used to tell me that it would hurt a lot but on our way to the dentist my mom keeps on telling me that I would b fine because she would be there by my side and it helped me. I miss being a little girl :(. Great post by the way.

  9. Quadelle February 23, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    Ditto to what DP said. 🙂 Ditch the so-called-good-mother voice because you both were fabulously spot on.

  10. Jenny February 23, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    One day she WILL remember; she will remember all the times that you were there for her. She will remember the little things, she will remember the big things. I’ve read your blog countless times, I adore your humor and wit. But today – today you really made my heart smile. ❤

  11. happybirthday2me February 23, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    You mom, you. You nearly had me crying, thinking of the same way I would feel with my brave girl, working hard to be brave in the face of pain.
    We need to talk offline about who your ortho is.
    In the end, your daughter will remember the good that came out of this day and that you were there for her. And with Sonic on top of it. Awesomesauce.

  12. Elle February 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    You’re the best mom I know. Don’t let that inside voice throw you like that. Your daughter is an amazing example of what a great job you’re doing. Love you!

    And M? She freaking rocks, too. 😉

  13. Beth February 24, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Clearly, your brave, kick-butt daughter, and her equally brave, kick-butt mother, ROCK!!!

  14. Dawn's mom February 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    that’s my girl (both of them) clearly my genes had nothing to do with the awesoeness of y’all—but i will keep on trying to be worthy of you and know only a wise and gracious God could have let me have such gems. Some of God’s gratest blessings ar unanswered prayers it is said. Lord knows how many yrs I asked for pregnancy and felt miffed at the silence. So He saved the best in heaven for me and now I see—lucky us to get to begrafted into this little bio pool of wonder!!!

  15. ingrid March 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Yes, I don’t “know” you but from what I can tell I’m certian that you’re doing the best you can which is a wonderful job! 🙂
    ~ingrid

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