We've entered the orthodontia years.
Nathan is currently moaning himself to sleep over the pain he's feeling in his mouth, and I'm feeling like a super lousy parent for signing him up for a couple of years of braces. Thankfully, the actual braces are a whole lot smaller than the ones his Dad and I had to wear at his age, and thanks to advances in technology, the estimated time he'll need treatment is also smaller than the four years I wore them and the five years Michael wore his. If it was only a matter of some crooked teeth, I'd be tempted to be very un-American and let them be. However, he's got some actual issues with the way his jaw is formed, and the longer we wait the harder it will be to fix. We've already waited longer than is ideal, but this nomadic life isn't conducive to ongoing treatment. Thankfully, a long search here in Shanghai netted a great dental group with a gentle specialist Nathan can tolerate (it's been a long road with this kid for anything related to the medical or dental profession), so there's no time like the present.
Nathan has been dreading this day, and nearly sang with joy a month ago when we had to postpone his brace-applying appointment a bit to give us time to get the funds together (you have to pay 100% of the cost up front here). I gave him a long pep-talk before Michael took him to his appointment, about how everyone in the whole world goes through an awkward stage right around this time in their lives. No one gets out of it, not even presidents, kings, or supermodels. So really, the best thing to do is to go ahead and embrace the awkwardness proudly by smiling despite the braces, because awkward is awkward and there's not really much you can do to increase or reduce it while you're in the middle of it. When I realized maybe I was sounding like I was bidding him farewell at the side of the road next to the entrance of Awkwardland, I just gave him a big hug, told him I was incredibly proud and that I loved him more than I could ever have enough time to express it in words.
I hope he can eventually fall asleep tonight. I hope the Advil will kick in enough to take the edge off. And that some day he'll make a less awkward speech to encourage his own child when their turn comes to have the lovely combined Rose/Chase dental anomalies realigned into something more pleasing. Maybe the mother of his children will have naturally perfect teeth and pass it along to their children. Sigh. Parenting is not easy.