Roll with the Punches - A column by Beth Ritchie

By Beth Ritchie of https://propergrownup.com/ 

As I write this I’m sitting in the orthodontist while my eldest son has his braces fitted for the first time. He’s been really brave about it, when asked this morning if he was nervous, he simply replied “nah” then went back to playing on his phone.

But I know that in half an hour or so he’s going to feel pretty crap. Unless you’ve had braces it’s impossible to understand just how awful the first few days with them are. It literally feels like your mouth is full of scrap metal/Lego/plastic packaging (whichever option your orthodontist has deemed appropriate). You feel like you’ve made massive mistake and you wish you’d just accepted your wonky teeth because this really isn’t worth it. I’m bracing myself (‘scuse the pun) for teenage mood swings to get a hella worse over the next couple of days.

But like everyone who goes through this trauma, he will get used to it eventually. It might always be painful (I know people who have to suffer constant mouth ulcers and mouth cuts due to braces), but that initial “oh my god what have I signed up for” panic that comes from having alien materials in your mouth, does go away.

We always adapt.

I was speaking to my stepmum this weekend about my dad’s Alzheimer’s and how rather than a gradual decline, he has deteriorated in lurches. He’ll stay the same for a while and then things will get sharply worse. Then he’ll stay the same for a while again. And each time there’s one less thing that he can manage himself (getting dressed, turning on the telly) it feels like a big one. But then it soon becomes normal, we all get used to it and learn to accommodate it, and life goes on.

It doesn’t matter whether change is gradual or sudden, being resilient is part of nature in most if not all species on the planet. We bounce back, learn to roll with the punches and accept things as they now are.

Our resilience makes it really easy to learn to live with crappy stuff, which is useful when it comes to the things we can’t control (coronavirus, Alzheimer’s et al… I’m looking at you), but less so with things that are within our control (in my case watching too much TV while stuffing my face with popcorn).

This means we can easily find ourselves accepting things in our lives which we really shouldn’t. It’s a hazard.

Resilience basically means the ability to recover. And while recovery sometimes requires acceptance, it might also involve finding another way of doing something.

While he can’t change having braces, my eldest will learn to eat differently and speak differently over the next few weeks, which will be a perfect lesson for him in how we can learn to live with anything.

And there’s a teachable moment right there. Who said homeschooling was difficult?