This past Friday I was in the dentist’s chair getting a tooth repaired. On the TV in the ceiling, the Joker said, “Because if you’re good at something, you don’t do it for free.” The music in the office was truly wretched, Muzak that somehow managed to get through the whine of the drill and The Dark Knight.
And I thought, You’re right Joker…now why won’t anyone pay me to punch myself in the face? Probably because I can’t plan on it.
The dentist put a temporary crown on the tooth that I just could not stop damaging every time I hit it. I stumbled out of that office back into the blinding light of normal life. I drove home and thought, well, that’s that for now.
The next day I was in the garden when I punched myself in the face. It was a good one. This is nothing new, but as far as I can tell, this was the first time two-year-old Max has seen me do it.
I could tell that he was just startled by the sudden motion, the dull smack, and the look on my face. He didn’t understand. He saw me in distress and worried. But–and I know this is silly–what I heard in his head was him saying: Is this going to happen to me? Did you give me Tourette’s?
He dropped his little shovel, took a step back, and started wringing his hands. I took a step towards him to tell him it was okay. Then it happened again. Wham! This time I had to sit down next to the hideous zucchini shrubs to clear my head. Suddenly Max was patting me on the shoulder. Then he put his arms around my neck.
And just like that, the choice was made.
I stood, picked him up, and we went into the house, where I spit out the temporary crown they’d given me about 30 hours earlier.
While we drove to the store to find something to cement my stupid tooth back in with, I watched Max in the rear-view mirror. He was having small tics. Tics in children are hard to watch. I rubbed my jaw and wondered what was going to happen to him.
The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful. But as we all know weekends have a way of coming to what always feels like a very abrupt end.
I spent most of Monday hitting myself again. When the crown came out this time, it was in three lovely pieces. No cementing it back in this time. I spent a long night annoyed because:
1. The cupboard was full of these children’s fruit snacks that I’m addicted to and I couldn’t eat them
2. Everything hurt
3. The tree outside my window is full of birds that start having a freaking party every morning at 4 AM. I don’t know what they are so happy about, so I can only assume it’s the sadistic glee they get out of rousing me out of my slumber
Back in the dentist’s chair. We’re all becoming great friends. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but my dental pals and I are never going to find out.
Back when my struggle with Tourette’s Syndrome was just an adorable little slap-fight–kind of how the UFC would be if the only fighters were the Jonas Brothers and the Care Bears–my parents still worried about my future, even though they had no reason to suspect that what I’ll call “The Great Season Of Foolishness” was on its way.
They wanted me to have the things that other, “normal” people get to have.
And now that my struggle with Tourette’s has become a war that threatens to swallow the entire globe–the equivalent of two coked-up, bespectacled (yes, Tourette’s wears glasses and I suspect has late stage syphilis) tyrannosaurs with nothing to lose and no concept of collateral damage–my parents still have the same worries.
They want me to continue to have:
And of course, I want the same things for my son.
Every second is a choice
Every time he looks at me…every time he has a little twitch…it’s all I can do not to apologize.
I know, I know. Not my fault.
But no matter how long I live, I’m never going to forget those two minutes in the garden, when he patted my shoulder and I hoped with all my might that he’ll never have to understand what’s happening to me.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to dwell on those minutes and let them wreck me. It means that out of this experience, I choose to remember the feel of Max’s arms around my neck, not the knobby chaos of my own fists. I choose to remember the concern in his eyes, not the whine of the dentist’s drill.
Every second is a choice. In those moments I reacted with fear and sorrow, which was natural. Then I got over it and drove to the pharmacy. It’s Tuesday afternoon now and it still hurts like hell. I won’t be able to get the permanent fix until next Wednesday. I fully expect to knock the tooth out four times before then.
Boo hoo. I choose to spend the next week doing something so good that it outweighs the bad and makes it seem laughable by comparison. I don’t know what it will be, but this post is step one.
And as to what will happen with Max in the future…if you’re a parent, you know that you can no more stop worrying about your kids than you can roller-skate to the moon. But tomorrow’s going to come no matter what.
It should never ruin today.
If you liked this post, please Subscribe To The RSS feed.
And if you’re really awesome, subscribe to the newsletter.