metamorphosis

We are seeing change.

Literally.

Visibly.

Change right before our very eyes.

And, really, it’s kind of nice because for once we get to SEE progress instead of only try to analyze and infer progress. For my tired old mind, that’s just a nice change-up. I realize that this is a routine passage for most kids in our modern culture. But let me remind you that it is NOTHING like routine for some of our kids. In fact, for my daughter from Ethiopia, this was unthinkable. Literally, unthinkable. Not even a dream.

You see, this little girl had never been to a dentist and this little girl was so SO shy and so SO self-conscious that she hid her smile behind her hands. Sometimes, if you could delight her or make her laugh at some silly slapstick physical comedy, then her smile would light up a room. But she would quickly catch herself and hide it. Not long after we brought her home, a few months, she asked about the braces on her older sister’s teeth. She pointed at them and then pointed at herself and asked, “Me?”

Oooh. We discussed it, alone, as parents of a newly home teen. We evaluated the lack of words to convey the process, the difficulty, the length of time, the pain. We talked about it with her as best as we could, we showed pictures of the process, we looked at calendars. She was insistent, “Me? Yes, ok, please. Me?” We thought of putting it off for a long time, until she had more english, more security, more time at home. But, she can be a stubborn, pushy little gal…..and so, finally, we caved said, “We can go talk to the doctor.”

And so we did. And we spoke with him at length about the particular challenges of this set of teeth and patient. He was game to try. He understood the need to be EXTRA gentle, and slow, and careful, and KIND. He understood her need to have me by her side, literally sitting on the edge of the chair, at each and every checkup and procedure. His office and staff didn’t blink. They just did it. Kindly. Patiently. Always, always, with a smile. For TWO years.

Now, yesterday, they once again, had an appointment with my Marti. But this one was MUCH anticipated and dreamt about. This one was to remove those braces.

This one, once again, was done with kindness and gentle hands but also much pomp and circumstance to celebrate the big day: balloons, gifts of forbidden snacks (popcorn, starburst), photos, hugs, high fives. She also got her new retainer for nighttime, and practiced taking it in and out a few times to make sure she could do it well. It was fine tuned to keep her new smile all beautiful and in place.

So we have our shy girl, the one who came to a new country and new family. She said to me in her first months home that she was “No pretty,” she cried and hid her mouth. Nowadays she’s feeling pretty good about herself, I think. She talks daily of her “Magic Hair” (‘nother post that!). And, now, she laughs with joy at her new megawatt smile and when I told her she was beautiful, she laughed and hugged me tight. Her smile lights up her face and she is all grins now about that smile; she says it is “SO pretty! Me happy!” Which makes me grin.

And, just because it’s kinda perfect, there is this: when she picked out her colors for her retainer, she picked a hot pink {of course}. Then she was asked if she wanted to pick any decals. She picked a butterfly. I didn’t think anything of it, til I saw her yesterday, giggling and smiling ear to ear without those braces. And there it was, right next to her, emblematic. She has grown out of her cocoon. She has changed in her own metamorphosis.

Our Marta has become that very butterfly.

14 thoughts on “metamorphosis

  1. I can’t help but ADORE this post!!! and I can’t wait to show Zach… he can learn from how the dentist/orthodontist understood her special circumstances and needed her mama, extra gentleness, etc… so great!!! she’s gorgeous! and tell her that I am getting braces on Friday… so that a dental student can practice. Plus I want straighter teeth. Hooray for Marta!!!

  2. She had the most gorgeous smile before and now it’s even more gorgeous — wow, I’d kill for that mouth! Well, not “kill,” but you know what I mean! So glad it has made her feel more confident and beautiful. Her smile really could power the state of Tennessee! 🙂

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