Braces and Baseball

God knows the number of hairs on your head but what about the number of teeth in your mouth? To what extent does God care for me, or my family?  Two years ago, our orthodontist friend said he’d fit Ace for some braces to help make space for Ace’s top teeth to come in straight.  At the appointment our ortho friend took some panoramic photos of Ace’s mouth, then he sat us down in his office after he took the X-rays.  “I’ve got some strange news for you guys.  Ace seems to be missing seven permanent teeth.”    Ace started to cry immediately and covered his mouth instinctively.  We felt like the roadrunner right when he realizes there’s no ground under him.  Our eyes were like saucers.  My jaw dropped.  “Are you sure?”
“Yep, pretty sure. Look…” He pointed at various gray spots on the X-ray.  “Seven of his baby teeth do not appear to have permanent replacements under the gums.”
I glanced tenderly at my son. Suddenly I pictured him as teenager looking like the old man in Pixar’s movie, “Up.”  Inverted, shriveled lips at sixteen because he has no teeth.  I gulped and tried not to show my alarm.
But I was alarmed.  And when I told B. Sterling the news that evening he was just as worried.  I tossed and turned in bed that night.  Finally, at some awful hour I got up and went downstairs to the couch to think and pray.  As I sat in the quiet dark house I was able to pinpoint what I felt about Ace and the teeth issue.  And it was this: what if God doesn’t care about my child as much as I’ve believed He does?  What if this reliance I have in God for my child’s life is all in vain?  A sticky, inky fear slid through me. Nobody wants to feel that their kid’s formation was a madcap assembly job in utero. But what if…. Suddenly I feared that God was like a mealy mouthed politician who wouldn’t admit He’d made errors with my child’s health. Mistakes were made. Authorities have been notified.   I reminded myself: it’s just teeth.  It could be so much worse.  And that’s completely true.  But a parent’s heart craves a deeper assurance, not comfort by comparison.
A few weeks ago I took Ace to a pediatric dentist to get his opinion on the matter.  He confirmed what our orthodontist had seen on the X-ray.  Ace is definitely missing seven permanent teeth. “But let me put you at ease a bit,” he said, “Amazingly, Ace is not missing any of his front permanent teeth, so cosmetically he’s in good shape. Just protect those baby teeth on the sides as long as you can.”  Then he turned to Ace and added, “So make sure to wear your mouth guard when you play baseball.” 
And that’s exactly where we find ourselves right now.  I’m sitting in the stands watching my son grab his glove and shove in his mouth guard as he runs out to the baseball diamond.  Delicate teeth or not, my son wants to eat, sleep and breathe the game of baseball.  And as his mom, I have this strange sort of déjà vu as I watch him warm up on the pitcher’s mound.  A peace comes over me…that feeling that we’re right in the pocket.   Right where we need to be. As though there’s already a photo album of these days.  As though He knows the number of hairs on my child’s head and the number of teeth in his mouth.   As though this is the present that was already planned for.  
Psalm 139:16
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

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