I’ve seen a lot of disgusting stuff in my 8 years as a mommy. I have seen pea-chunked puke and curdled milk drool. I’ve seen poop that defied gravity and actually made it’s way UP and OUT of the diaper of an upright toddler. I’ve seen vomit SHOOT out of a mouth and HIT a curtain 10 feet across a room with the velocity of something created for the military by Lockheed Martin.
And you know what? As mommies we expect that. Well, if it’s our first child, we don’t. But we quickly learn that “gross” and “disgusting” come with the territory. And we accept it because, well, what else are we gonna do? Give the kid back? Hire a nanny like Uma? Have daddy deal with it? Yeah, right.
So we do our duty and we clean it up. No matter how stomach-churning. No matter that the scene might look like something that Crime Scene Clean Up would gag at. Because, well, it’s our job.
Somehow, however, in my naivete, I assumed most of the grossness would disappear after the potty training stage ended. But it doesn’t end. It just…changes.
Case in point. Recently, my kid got a T-Rex. No, not the dinosaur brought back to life by brilliant scientists with God complexes. A palate expander put into the roof of her mouth by her orthodontist.
Turns out she has a narrow palate and crossbite (thanks Grandpa!) and they need to widen it so that her permanent teeth have room to come in straight. This is one of those advancements that they have made since our childhood that has made our kids’ childhoods so much better than ours. You know, like TV remotes and video games that have 3-D exploding zombies instead of little white balls PINGING back and forth. I mean, if you can call watching entrails fly and sitting on your ass instead of getting up to change the channel, progress.
Anyway, in the old days, they’d wait until kids were in their teens (and at their most emotionally vulnerable and self-conscious) to stuff them with a mouth full of metal. And because by that age their palates were set in bone, they’d have to pull healthy teeth to make room and then begin the years-long process of moving the remaining teeth into the gaps so that they would be straight. In some cases there was also headgear that made the stuff they used to “inquisite” during the INQUISITION look like sand box toys.
Today, they have discovered that the palate is still cartilage when they’re young. And so they use the T-Rex to slowly spread it to make it wider and then, VOILA, plenty of room for healthy teeth to come in. No pulling. And no mortification because when kids are 8 they actually think braces are COOOOL. Also, they don’t care what the opposite sex thinks, as long as they stay far enough away so as not to contract COOTIES.
Anyway, Julia has had the appliance for two weeks. And other than the first two days of minor discomfort, it has been a breeze, pain-wise. Cleaning wise, not so much.
Because that thing is DISGUSTING! Now the orthodontist did not explain why they call it the T-Rex, but I’m convinced it’s because it consumes everything that comes its way. Turkey, beef, edamame, couscous, bread…You name it, that thing grabs it and makes it its own.
And brushing doesn’t do it. No siree. The only way to get that T-Rex to give up its prey is high water pressure. Hence the purchase of a waterpik. But Julia and I had no experience with a waterpik. And although I fairly quickly mastered the steady hand and aim, Julia didn’t quite catch on to the concept of keeping her mouth shut while I was pressing the ”ON” button.
So in the last two weeks I have gotten face fulls (and yes, even mouthfuls) of backsplash and backwash. Ew. My glasses have been speckled with food spray. My hair has been drenched in spit water. And once, I looked in the mirror to find a RAMEN NOODLE ON MY CHEEK. Yeah, that’s right.
Did I gag? Did I throw up? Did I throw down that waterpik, say forget it, and advise Julia that she should just enjoy her mini-snacks as they appeared randomly in her mouth later in the day? Nope. I kept on pik-ing. Because I am a mother. And that’s what mother’s do.
Yes, I have freed much captured foodage in the last two weeks. So much so that I am wondering if she is getting any nutrition at all. But she’s not losing weight so I’m not worrying…too much.
Meanwhile, Julia and I have BOTH learned to keep our mouths shut during the process. Usually. Sometimes, anyway. And as much as it grosses me out to do this, I have learned to let go of that obstinate piece of food and let it’s find its own way to freedom. And usually it does.
I have also learned that the gross part of being a mommy never seems to end. I can’t imagine what the future has in store for me. Perhaps some late nights sitting on cold porcelain tile brushing the hair off a clammy face that is vomiting into a toilet as a result of a flu or, worse, an illegal beverage or three at a high school party.
I don’t know. I DO KNOW that I’ll do it. Without complaint. Because she’s my kid. And I love her. ‘Nuff said.