Parenting Wisdom

14 Jun

800px-Cyst_-_wisdom_toothMy son and I have gotten along all week. He has been on Vicodin the entire time.

Seriously.

See, my son had his wisdom teeth removed Monday. In my geeky “medicine is science so this will be really interesting” mind, getting wisdom teeth removed sounds awesome. I know it’s wrong to be more than a little intrigued about a process that would cause my offspring pain, but my own wisdom teeth are securely nestled, sideways, in the upper reaches of my jaw. They aren’t going anywhere; this was my only chance to get so close to wisdom extraction.

The first intriguing fact about removing wisdom teeth is that the removee is completely sedated. I had eight teeth pulled at once when I was a kid. Apparently, contrary to what my children may think, I have a small mouth. My small mouth wouldn’t accommodate the number of teeth genetics demands are necessary for adult humans.

I got gas—nitrous oxide—to keep me quiescent through the extractions. I know first-hand why they call it laughing gas. The dentist told me to close my eyes and let myself drift off to sleep. I was 13 and rebellious; there was no way in hell I was doing anything an adult told me to do. So, I kept my eyes open. I inhaled once. Nothing happened. I inhaled again. Nothing. On the third inhale, though, I found moving my fingers made the silliest little noises, like fairies flitting around my hands. I wiggled my fingers again and again until the doctor said, “I know what you’re doing. Close your eyes.”

My son got intravenous sedation. No flittering fairies for him. He simply went to sleep and woke up looking like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” if the godfather had been a 16-year old with long blond hair and a scruffy red beard.

I took him home, tucked him into my bed and kissed his forehead. Ordinarily, when my son is sick, he’ll argue that he doesn’t need a nap, he’s perfectly fine, he can relax while he plays video games, etc., etc., etc. But he begrudgingly agrees to a nap, informing me he won’t sleep because he’s not tired. When I wake him an hour or two later, he says something like, “Damn you, Mom. I hate it when that happens.” I smile my inner “Mother knows best” smile and leave him to Zelda.

This time, though, he didn’t complain. He didn’t even say “meh.” He snuggled into the covers and closed his eyes.

At seventeen, my son rarely requires the kind of mothering skills I’ve honed over the years. I don’t bat an eye at a fever unless it’s over 101. When a kid tells me her tummy hurts, I know to ask if she’s pooped. I’ve got boxes of Jello and little containers of applesauce always on hand. I even make a pretty good chicken soup.

Teenagers, though, are shark-infested uncharted territory and I am prone to seasickness. A typical day finds me muttering curses at my son’s angrily retreating back. Everything makes him angry except for the things that make me angry. When we’re both angry my husband does his child psychologist impersonation and my daughter runs for cover.

Sedated, my son became less a man and more a child I could deal with. As soon as he fell asleep, I went to Whole Foods in search of mushable foods. As always, the place was aswarm with vegan mommies and their little sweet peas. One mother, a ringer for Christy Turlington, pushed a cart with one hand and held a chubby baby, face forward, snuggly against her hip. Two little girls with Goldilocks curls, danced pirouettes in the canned goods aisle.

Any other day, my grandma gene would have kicked in and made me wistful for tots of my own to gush over. That day, though, I happily negotiated the aisles gathering goodies for my little man. All you young mommies got nothin’ on me, I thought. My baby was at home, sleeping in mommy’s bed. Ice packs to his cheeks.

My son didn’t just accept my ministrations. He welcomed them and, remarkably, expressed gratitude. More remarkable still? Unsolicited affection! Really! Affection from someone known more commonly to us as uncommunicative and emotionally withholding.

And, the maraschino cherry on the hot fudge sundae of love this week has been? My kids are getting along. The boy is asking his sister for help and she’s gladly doing it. The girl is asking for playtime together and she’s getting it.

The drugs are wearing off, though, as I knew they would and should. In much less pain, my son is returning to full-on man mode, complete with the desire to have nothing to do with mom as he establishes his own identity. He’s getting crankier quicker and spending more and more time in his room, planning what he’ll do with his friends now that he’s cleared to fly. Passing his bathroom, I caught a whiff of Axe.

Parenting my son into manhood is fraught with prickly interactions that could turn toxic at any point. It’s exhausting never knowing how any interchange will turn out, even one that starts with humor. This week, though, we got a reprieve.

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14 Responses to “Parenting Wisdom”

  1. The Waiting June 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I remember getting my wisdom teeth out when I was about his age, and you’re right: when you’re on heavy pain meds and also in the throes of teenage angst, the angst takes a backseat to parental care. Maybe you can find some other minor surgery for him to have so you can care for him a bit longer 😉

    • jmlindy422 June 14, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Some days, I’d like to have his lung torn out or his head removed. Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t think he’d miss his appendix.

  2. thestick81 June 14, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Hehe, bitter sweet.

  3. Luanne June 14, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Aw, I’m glad he’s on the mend.

    • jmlindy422 June 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

      I know. He’s been so sweet. But, as I told my husband, he’s rapidly returning to his asshat ways.

      • Luanne June 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

        I am constantly tricked by my son . . . .

  4. jmwilliams2891 June 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    oh wisdom teeth 😛 i remember getting mine out and being out in the pool swimming an hour later. The dentist forgot about my drugs and when he called and found out i was already in the pool, he said i didn’t need them.

  5. The Hook June 15, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Good luck navigating the minefield that is parenthood, my friend.

    • jmlindy422 June 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      And you, brother, and you. Good luck, too, with your current challenges. Sounds pretty stressful.

  6. Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge June 15, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Reprieve. Perfect choice of words.
    X-ray! Cool Cool…and perfect for this week with Superman opening.
    Hope your super little guy gets back to speed with ease.

    • jmlindy422 June 18, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      He’s doing pretty well. I can tell because he’s reverting to his normal teenage behavior.

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