A taste of teen

"Um, Mrs. Grossi, Dr. Perez says he can fill the cavity on the upper right, but the tooth on the upper left is in such bad shape, he would rather pull than fill it. Is that OK?" asked the lovely dental hygienist about Jack's teeth yesterday afternoon. 

"Of course," I responded through slightly gritted teeth, "but please don't tell Jack more than he needs to know because he tends to freak out about possible blood loss."

"Okay, we will give him laughing gas first."

Great. Add it to my tab.

Tom and I have learned that we passed outrageously shitty dental anatomy and weak dental bacteria on to Jack (and likely Ol) and that T has also gifted our children with his family's micro-mouth trait. Long story short, Jack's mouth is the perfect storm for dental decay and excessive cash outflow. What we've spent on fillings (is it eight now? nine?), laughing gas and early orthodontia is not an amount I like to consider, not least because half that money is packed into baby teeth that will fall out in the coming years. 

But since we aren't sharks, I don't joke around with dental care, and the fifteen minute appointment I'd promised Jack ("just X-rays, honey") stretched into a long hour. J was a real champ about the pulling and filling, numb face and consternation over his lazy flossing habit.

Until he wasn't, and I dare say Teen Jack roared into our home like a time traveling apparition. 

It began with enormous eye rolls and mean trash talk toward Oliver who was diligently working on his Spotlight Student poster (things that are important to him include cinnamon toast and Garfield but not his family, apparently) and snowballed over the next two hours into a giant ball of red-faced tears, slammed doors, a thrown wallet ("WHAT? THERE IS NO WALMART IN DC? WHY? I NEED A BRICK OF MAGNESIUM!"), and outrage over "the stupid, baby sentences we have to write with hyphenated words that SHOULDN'T EVEN BE HYPHENATED and this week's GODDAMNED GRAMMAR RULE."

I admit that I dissolved into a puddle of hysterical tears over that last bit because even though I love grammar, J's use of goddamned flowed in marvelously smooth fashion, I happen to agree that goodbye does not require a hyphen, and I never imagined I'd see my fourth grade son apoplectic over using roly-poly and some form of there/their/they're in one simple sentence.

Don't you see a roly-poly over there?

But I digress. 

He spent a full ninety minutes crying, cleaning the rotten tooth Dr. Perez had pulled, rolling on his floor, and circling his math packet and language homework like a wary beast trying to psyche itself up to attack.

I suggested he consider that if instead of these inefficient uses of time he buckled down and accepted that while his homework might suck, it still has to get done and the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. He looked at me like I was speaking Swahili while pulling worms from my ears.

I attempted to remind him that he's going to have homework for the next, oh, twelve to thirteen years so might want to reframe his thoughts on how to approach the assignments he finds repellent or mind-numbingly dull. He said he instead planned to talk to his teachers about cancelling "stupid assignments." Which is hilarious to consider because neither -the conversation or the cancelling- will ever happen.

He then screamed that at the end of this year, he planned to burn every bit of homework that had made him mad. I said, "Great idea. We can certainly do that."

Finally, I took the hard line and said, "Jack, stop it, man. Get ahold of yourself. Take a deep breath RIGHT NOW." It was like the face-slap people in movies use to bring a panicky person back to reality. 

He was too exhausted to resist, fortunately, and then the babysitter arrived, amazing grace, and I left for date night with T, and this morning Just Jack was back although he reminded me that the Tooth Fairy didn't come.

The TF used all her money yesterday, champ. Maybe tonight!