Broken tooth is breaking my heart

marMaritha broke her front tooth yesterday. I wince thinking about it, but it wasn’t bloody or nearly as painful as I’d first imagined it. From what she says, she was following her friend through a school door and wasn’t paying attention. She thought Jenna was going to hold the door, but Jenna didn’t, and the glass door smacked her square in the teeth. The lips were unscathed, so my hunch is she was smiling or laughing – her normal carefree state. She was probably paying attention to someone behind her and turned just in time to catch the door with the tip of her left front tooth. Enamel on commercial grade glass. Oooh wee!

While this is certainly not good news, what really slapped me across the face is what happened later with the dentist, where the gaps in Maritha’s education and experience stood out more than her gap-toothed smile. With her eighteenth birthday coming in four months, Sherry and I are seeking continued guardianship, which I’ve had conflicting feelings about.

She and I went in to Dr. Mart together, and he started asking her questions about what happened.

“When did this happen?” he asked.

She gave a confused look, and looked to me for support. I supplied that it had happened a little after noon.

“Did you fall in gym class?”

“No,” she answered, “I got hit by a window.”

“Wasn’t it a door?” I added tentatively.

“No. A window,” she insisted, giving me that you moron, dad look. We agreed that it was a glass door, which is mostly window.

And so the interview continued.

What troubles me is how simultaneously simple and complicated the world is. Talking to the dentist, the doctor, the teacher, the mail carrier, the boy who wants to kiss you, the man who wants you to get in his car – at age seventeen, we hope our daughters can navigate these simple complexities.

Maritha started out with us at age nine. She’d attended school in the Marshall Islands only occasionally and she had a hearing impairment. She probably also suffers from some degree of FAS, though this can’t be completely confirmed without documentation of her gestation. She so wants to be eighteen, to have a driver’s license, a job, and to go shopping whenever she wants.

We’re hoping someday she can be there, but yesterday it hit me again how far she has to go.

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2 Responses to Broken tooth is breaking my heart

  1. Sarah says:

    My stepsons from an earlier marriage took out front teeth (kneeling on skateboards to be safer than standing up…) I know what you mean about making your stomach hurt. They were quickly fixed, and a non-issue in no time.

    You couldn’t protect Maritha from a low-flying glass door/window, and you cannot protect her from what else is out there that’s less benign. You can do your dangdest to be with her, however, whenever she needs the caps. That knowledge, of your presence and benevolence, is more powerful than anything the world will hand her.

  2. Jocelyn says:

    This is a perfect illustration of the dilemma of that continued guardianship. My gut reaction is, “Oh, yea, you guys need to do that,” but the bigger question is, “Will continued guardianship make any difference if she’s always going to be this way?” Most likely, your blanket of love will have to cover her–protect her–to a certain extent for the rest of her life.

    Good job making me cringe with the description of enamel on glass, too.

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