My son Rocky grew up loving sharks. I mean, he was obsessed with them from the time he could talk.
And he talked about them constantly.
He watched every shark movie that he could get his hands on and Shark Week was a major event in our home. One day I came across a bundle of shark post cards at a gift shop that featured a photo of a different shark on the front of each one, with facts about the shark on the back.
Rocky carried these cards around with him like a bible.
He talked about sharks incessantly, until I thought that my head was going to explode but I have to say that he did become very knowledgeable about all of the different kind of sharks…
…the Hammerhead, the Sand Shark, the Tiger Shark, the Great White, the Angel Shark, the Shortfin Mako, the Bull Shark, the Whitetip Reef Shark…
He knew them by sight and he knew the facts about all of them.
It was actually quiet impressive, so I lightened up on worrying about the degree of his obsession.
Until one night, Rocky came to me with a large grin and said, “Mommy, I have shark teeth!”
“Shark teeth?” I asked, “What do you mean that you have shark teeth?”
With that Rocky opened his mouth.
Sure enough, there behind his two, lower, front teeth was a second row of teeth.
I was panicked.
Did I mention that at the time I worked for a dental practice?
Well, I did.
The next morning, (a bit embarrassed for not noticing my son’s “Shark Teeth” earlier) I brought Rocky right in to see one of the dentists that I worked for.
This dentist happened to be newly out of dental school. I think that she was afraid of my 7-year-old feeling any pain…so she loaded up on the anesthetic…not one, not two, but three carpules of Novocaine.
The baby teeth came out with ease and the dentist ensured me that Rocky’s adult teeth would move forward, right into place.
The dentist was nice enough to let me leave work to drive Rocky a few blocks to his elementary school. I knew that I would have to be quick so I could get back in time for my first patient.
As we entered the school, Rocky said, “Mommy, my lip feels weird.”
I glanced at Rocky’s swollen lower lip. It was so taut and red that it appeared as if he was wearing lipstick.
“Okay honey,” I replied “We’ll stop at the nurses office and get you an ice pack.”
We were a bit late by the time we got into Rocky’s classroom.
Everyone turned and stared.
The teacher took one glance at Rocky and asked with concern, “Is everything okay?”
I replied, “Yes…he just had two of his baby teeth pulled.”
Rocky slowly removed the ice pack to expose his red, swollen, lower lip.
The teacher gasped, looked at me and asked, “Mrs. Reed, you do know that today is school picture day, don’t you?”
(That’s a hockey joke for when my boy, Rocky reads this)
“Well…he can just take the make up photo.” I stated, “Can’t he?”
The teacher replied, “We have to take the photo today because the school needs one to go with Rocky’s permanent record for this school year.”
Rocky shot me a bewildered look.
The teacher waited for my reply.
“Okay…” I said sheepishly, as I gave Rocky a supportive hug and a kiss before leaving.
I thought about my poor son the entire day that day, and the school photos.
I felt terrible but there was nothing I could do about it.
As parents, we buy the school photo no matter what it cost or how bad it looks.
That’s just the way it is.
We love our children more than life itself…
but we don’t have to love the photo, or the ridiculous circumstances that led up to it.
That is just part of being a parent.
*Photo credit Disney, Finding Nemo