Monday, March 19, 2007

Braces, pt. 1...

Today we slept in a bit, since Brendan wasn't due at the orthodontist's until 9:00 am, about 45 minutes after we usually arrive at school. (Missing some school has been part of the charm of having to get braces :) Brendan had a tough time getting to sleep last night, in spite of having gone sledding in the afternoon, & intermittently had more than usual difficulty with tics yesterday, but also did some good work in overcoming them. He didn't want to go into the kitchen for dinner due to a tic, but I calmly reminded him that he had de-ticced other things & that he could do this, too. At this point he was sitting on the sofa headed for meltdown, so I asked him if he could stand up & he said he could... & when he did I slowly led him into the kitchen, where dinner was all laid out on the table. Charlie had poured us some wine & surprised Brendan by pouring him a teeny glass of his own. This proved sufficient distraction to get him to the table. All thoughts of tic were lost in sampling the wine & then drowning it in tonic water to make it taste better :) His difficulty falling asleep led to his waking up around 7:00, rather than his usual 6:30 (with time to read or watch tv until 7:00) so it was good to have the extra half-hour for him to settle into the day.

He bounced into the orthodontist's office in a mild state of excitement & they were ready for him almost immediately. It was clear that I was expected to wait in the waiting room this time & he didn't seem to need me, so although it felt odd, I let him go. A couple of times a technician came out to report that he was doing very well which was really nice of them. I tried to concentrate on my kanji practice while I waited. I have decided that the only way to learn to read kanji is to learn to write it, so I purchased a workbook a few weeks ago & have been working away when I have the time. It's been really good to do because learning kanji has deepened my understanding of japanese language concepts (today I discovered that the kanji for "understand" is the same as "divide"- to break down into smaller bits, maybe?). It's also helped me to understand why there's more than one pronounciation for most concepts (the original, imported chinese pronounciations & the adopted japanese ones). Tomoko likes the book I got & has been a great resource for answering questions that come up as I work. Drawing the kanji is a challenge & after a while I feel as though my brain is going to explode, which is when I know to take a break :) I've been thinking of ways to share some of this with Brendan, too, because I think he'd really enjoy it. It's like the ultimate secret code...

After about 45 minutes Brendan came & got me. He was still upbeat & showed me the wire in the brackets that had been cemented all along his upper teeth. The technician had him sit back in the chair & showed us a series of goodies for him to take home & how to use them. There was wax to cover any brackets that irritate his lips, samples of special fluoride paste that he could sample to see what flavour I should get for him (by prescription!), a new toothbrush & new rules for brushing, flossing threaders & how to use them... By this time I could tell Brendan was getting spacey from all the info, so I assured her that I'd help him out & we gathered our things to get him to school. Before we could leave, though, he had to kiss me on the cheek to make sure the brackets wouldn't hurt me. Pretty sweet... On the way he wanted to eat his snack (baked Lays) & asked me to remind him how to eat them (put one chip in at a time & chew with back molars). When he started picking at the food in his teeth I suggested he take a big swig from his water bottle to wash it out. I told him maybe he should have a toothbrush at school & he mentioned that a classmate with braces sometimes brushes her teeth after lunch. A couple of times he asked me nervously to look at the wire & make sure it was ok. I'm really glad they're taking it slowly, so Brendan can get used to the changes in stages. Right now the wire is just sitting in the brackets because they fitted the upper bands, took an impression, then took them off to have the appliance for his upper palate attatched to them, & he won't get all of that gear for 2 weeks. It will be enough for him to get used to a different & more time-consuming teeth-cleaning regimen, plus the way the brackets feel.

School was very quiet when we got there. It was 10:15 & everyone was at work. We slipped into his room & he showed Cherie, his consultant teacher the work in progress on his teeth. He went to his desk & his teacher, Jen, suggested that the class go over what they'd been discussing, to catch Brendan up. I quietly told Cherie to have him call me if he is uncomfortable or nervous. The I went home to laundry...

I had 2 calls in the morning but neither from Brendan :) One was Charlie checking up in how things went. I thought about how he's going to manage toothbrush & paste at school & decided that a zippered bag made from a wash cloth would work well (to keep things from getting too nasty-gooey), so I found a cloth & zipper & was just getting ready to figure out how to sew them together when the phone rang- it was 1:30 by then. Cherie was on the line & said that Brendan was starting to get some discomfort from the brackets, so I said I'd come over to get him (it was just half an hour before I usually go get him). They were playing a game in her room & Brendan was sucking on a lollie when I got there. Cherie said she wasn't sure about the lollie but it seemed to be helping... I told her as long as he didn't crunch it they were fine, although we both agreed that he can't go through the day every day sucking lollies either. She said he'd eaten his lunch in stages, some before outside time & some after, but that he'd really had a great day. I told Brendan that after his snack he could brush his teeth & then I'd stick some wax to the offending brackets.

On the way into the house I asked him if I could take picture of him & his braces for the blog, acknowledging that it was an odd request. He replied that I could & that he was glad I was not normal... I told him I was glad that he was not normal too :) He approved of the picture (said it was his "rogue's grin") after I showed it to him. We decided to freeze some orange juice in the ice cube tray to make freezies he could suck on to relieve his sore lips & they're now in the freezer. The zipper bag is made, equipped, & in his backpack. He's already dumped the first lot of wax, saying that it was annoying, & trying to lose himself in a Dragon Fable game... I'm poised to suggest a movie & knitting if that doesn't work. Wish us luck...!

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At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Bonnie Ventura said...

My son will be getting his braces off Wednesday.

He did pretty well with them, except for eating popcorn and chewing gum even though he wasn't supposed to.

I hope all continues to go well for your little guy (and yes, he does look a bit roguish in the picture!)

At 10:06 PM, Blogger VAB said...

The trick with kanji is internalizing the stroke order. If you get the stroke order right, the balance is much easier. There are only 89 basic components that make up all kanji, so it is not as insurmountable as it seems at first. And you are definitely right, it is really, really useful when it comes to deeper understanding of spoke Japanese. As you said, wakaru wo wakaru to wakaru.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger kristina said...

Good going for Brendan-----Charlie is probably going to need them and I really appreciate hearing about what it was like for B.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks for the kind comments!

I appreciate knowing what your son't pitfalls were, braces-wise, Bonnie. Thanks!

VAB, the kanji encouragement is very helpful. I'm finding one of my main enticements & assists to read kanji is manga in the original japanese. I've been enjoying Tactics (which isn't available yet in english), Fruits Basket, & Hikaru no Go.

I'll keep chronicling how it goes as faithfully as I can, Kristina! :)


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