(A repost for newer readers to this site.)
Sometimes it is really tough to be a kid. When both of our boys needed braces we knew they were in for a rough time. In those days braces tended to be made out of highly visible shiny metal, and painful. We also knew that some kids would make fun of their “railroad tracks” and that could be hard on their self-esteem.
From the perspective of our sons, there was yet another big negative. The dentist gave to them a long list of chewy, gooey, wonderful things that they could not eat for the entire time they had to wear the braces, and they were warned that if they did eat the banned items they could cause permanent damage to their teeth and expensive damage to their braces.
The looks on their faces fell and stayed that way as the time for braces neared.
It hurt my beloved wife and me to see them so sad, so we discussed the situation. We agreed that there wasn’t much we could do about the emotional and physical pain, nor the taunting that they were likely to get at school, beyond our being open to discussing such things at whatever level the boys might feel comfortable doing so. We didn’t want to “baby” them, and we wanted to support them in a healthy way. We were also concerned that they might have a very hard time refraining from all of the goodies that were on the dentist’s banned list, so we came up with an idea that we thought might at least remove some of the sting of getting braces.
A week or two before they were scheduled to get their braces, Beloved and I sat them down and said we knew it would be tough to keep from eating all the things that were on the banned list for the whole time they wore their braces, so were were willing to make a deal with them.
We’d take them to the grocery store and let them each cram as many of their favorite items from the banned list as they could into their own large lunch bag, and then we’d let them eat it all.
We told them that we expected four things in return, that they’d:
Continue to eat 3 healthy meals per day
Thoroughly brush their teeth a minimum of 3 times every day
Finish eating everything in the bag or hand over any that they hadn’t eaten before the braces were put on
They wouldn’t eat any of the items on the banned list for the whole time their braces were on.
Their faces lit up as they enthuiastically agreed to the terms of our agreement, so we jumped into the car and went to the grocery store with their two empty bags.
Talk about kids in a candy store! They quickly and enthusiasticy filled their bags with with all kinds of wonderful stuff, carefully using every millimeter of space as they scienticically jammed more of their treasure into their bulging bags.
When we got home they were thrilled with all of their treasures and began to enjoy their bounty. They were so happy that I think they even completely forgot about the braces for awhile.
We ensured that they had healthy meals and brushed their teeth often, but otherwise left them to their goodies.
As we’d hoped, by the time their braces went on the boys were so sick of all that junk that quite a long time elapsed before they even wanted to begin to think about eating anything on the banned list again!