My son got braces last week. It was the beginning of the end for him. All week, he’d been acting weird. Sad. And I couldn’t get him to tell me what was going on until the night he got the braces on. When I tucked him in, he was upset, and my motherly prompting finally got him to open up.
He was sure everyone at school was going to make fun of him. It was inevitable because only one other kid in his grade has braces. He’d been worrying about it all week. “I don’t think they’ll make fun of you.” I said. “Braces aren’t a big deal like when I was a kid. Besides, when they get their braces in two years, you’ll have perfectly straight teeth.” Then I continued, “You are awesome. Be confident in that.”
It didn’t matter. Nothing I said was going to help. So I prayed with him and tucked him in.
But my heart was breaking because his heart was breaking. How can I protect him from the mean things kids might say? The truth is, I couldn’t. I could only pray him through the day. The next morning, he left with a secret note tucked into his binder to hopefully encourage him mid day and another reminder from me, “You are awesome. Be confident. Smile big.”
Later that day I had a conversation with my mother. We talked about raising kids. Up until this point it went mostly like this: Feed, clothe, kiss boo boos, lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, and make sure they’re respectful and well behaved. Mostly, I had to take care of the physical stuff. But after this encounter with my son, I was totally unprepared for the emotional raising that is charging in with the tween years. “All you can do is pray confidence into him,” my mother said.
At the end of school, I picked up the kids and asked how the day went. “Good,” he replied.
“Can I get something a little more detailed?”
“Kaylee said my braces looked awesome. Nick told me I looked better with them. And I made a new friend. Juliana is getting braces soon, and she was asking me all sorts of questions.”
“So no one teased you?”
Praise God. Not only for this tiny victory, but for instilling a little more confidence in my son after I relentlessly prayed throughout the day.
God is good. All the time.