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Brace Yourself

Brace Yourself

Despite all my forebodings regarding the fancy-dress fundraiser, I had a fabulous time dressed as a teenager. Mutter on about fancy dress as I do, but it has to be admitted there is something very liberating about prancing around in a ridiculous outfit. I did have a nasty moment on the way to the dinner though. We shot through some traffic lights at a high speed and I had a momentary vision of myself being carted off in an ambulance. Never mind the clean-underwear syndrome; can you imagine the humiliation of arriving at ER dressed for detention? In actual fact, I would have probably fitted right in with the inevitable hen night casualties on a Friday night.

On Monday I took Drama Queen No. 2 to the orthodontist for that great rite of passage, the fitting of braces. Before you have children, it never occurs to you that one of the closest relationships you are going to have through their adolescence is the family orthodontist. As the mother of three girls I find I am always greeted with enthusiasm by dental practitioners, to the extent that the pediatric orthodontist in America took to sending me Mother’s Day cards, a practice that alarmed me somewhat. DQ No.2 eyes this particular orthodontist with some suspicion based on the debonair way he announced last year that he wanted her to have four teeth out over the next week. I have a vivid memory of her eyes bulging with horror during that particular pronouncement—like all good dental wonks, he waited until her mouth was filled with implements before breaking the good news.

We arrived early for this installment of the ongoing orthodontic reality show, provisionally entitled, This Is Going to Hurt You, and Your Parents’ Bank Balance Far More Than It Hurts Me. It was actually a world first for me as I am the woman who generally gallops into dental appointments with thirty seconds to spare, however, true to form, I had got it wrong and we were in fact over an hour early, so we retired to the Lindt Chocolate Café for some soothing carbohydrates. It turns out that this visit to the temple of Willy Wonka, where just sniffing the chocolate aroma is enough to put a good few inches on the waistline, was a good thing as DQ No. 2 in her new incarnation of metal mouth can’t swallow or chew for a bit, which makes even soup a challenging meal. She is not unnaturally miserable at the moment and I am feeling wracked with guilt that I am putting her through it. The only comfort is that I am pretty certain that a) the discomfort will pass pretty quickly, and b) when she hits her twenties, whilst she may not have forgiven me for this particular episode, she will at least not be facing years of adult orthodontics to cover a misaligned jaw. It has however made me ponder things like foot binding and genital mutilation and given me a glimmering into the thinking behind a culture where, in order for a female to be accepted, successful, fit into society she has to undergo painful change and mothers encourage daughters into things for what the mothers perceive as the daughter’s own good.

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