Rule #81: Use Hand-Me-Down Braces & Retainers

in Rules of Parenting


Try to clean some of the food particles out before we put them on your little brother.

Dentists are always trying to tell you that every child’s mouth is different.

They’ll blather on about overbites and under-bites and pie-holes that are too big or too small.

But, really, a mouth’s a mouth—and this happens to be your third child’s mouth, so it really makes no sense why you should have to pay thousands of dollars for your 12-year-old son’s mouth of bent metal when your 14-year-old daughter just had her braces taken off.

So, how do you explain this delicately to your child, who is already not all that thrilled about becoming a metal mouth?

Sit up straight and listen, good people who whimsically follow fashionable trends even though you don’t even remotely believe in them: Play the I’m-doing-it-for-the-good-of-the-environment card.

Why the hell not? People have used the environment for crappier reasons lately, such as buying smaller cars, low-flush toilets and only having sex in the dark.

You’re recycling. It’s virtuous. It’s fun.

And your kid isn’t buying it.

So you’ll say something like: “Jason, look, I know the retainer seems too big. But you’ll grow into it.”

And Jason will probably say: “How do I grow into a retainer?”

Which you’ll ignore by changing the subject to fishing.

And Jason will probably say: “I hate fishing. And what about these braces? They’re too loose. They’re just hanging like metal cobwebs on my teeth. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s horrible, dad. We didn’t even get a dentist to put them on. No offense, dad, but I don’t think your friend did a good job.”

Which you’ll deny, then say: “Jason, my friend Pete is registered with the state as a licensed electrician. He wires shit all the time. So, lacing the used wire to the teeth in your mouth was no big deal to him, provided I buy him Cuban cigars and several lottery tickets. Besides, you’ll grow into them.”

And Jason will probably say: “But dad—I…”

Which you’ll interrupt by reminding him: “Jason, remember that time you were all dead-set against wearing your big sister’s underwear? And what happened? That’s right, you grew into them.”

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