I really struggled recently with a desire to be unkind.
As my 10-year old came downstairs for breakfast, she announced that “the ring slid out again,” referring to one of the metal rings that had been glued to her back molars in July and serve as anchors for the partial braces and headgear she’s been wearing.
My unkind feelings weren’t directed at Rachel, but I felt my ire rising toward the dentist’s office. In just four months, we’d had numerous problems with all the orthodontic apparatuses, and this latest issue meant yet another trip across town to for yet another correction. The drive isn’t far, but the inconvenience of having to interrupt our home learning schedule in order to drag four kids out on a cold, rainy day when we’d just had a regular check-up two weeks before frustrated me.
At the office, the receptionists and assistant were so perky I wanted to scream at them. Instead, I pursed my lips into a taunt smile.
The dentist smiled sheepishly and said, “I’m so sorry. I hate to see your name on the list all of a sudden because I know that means another problem.”
Unkind words ached to fly out of my mouth, but I flashed that same strained smile and asked Rachel to explain the problem.
Dr. Meredith sighed, sensing my frustration, and then focused on Rachel. She did a once-over and then asked, “Have you noticed this?”
“Now what?” I thought, but said nothing.
“I’ll get her original mold to show you, but this is amazing. Come see.”
I edged over to peer into Rachel’s mouth.
Dr. Meredith had me look closely at Rachel’s front teeth and then at the mold. “This is amazing movement in just a couple of weeks,” Dr. Meredith enthused. “I never expected this.”
Sure enough, Rachel’s very large overbite looked dramatically smaller, and the visible change had all occurred in just the two weeks since we’d first started the headgear. So much gratitude welled up inside me that I almost cried.
After repairing the slipped ring, Dr. Meredith explained that she didn’t know why it had slid off. But she theorized that, perhaps, the cause was the quick movement of Rachel’s teeth.
I still wasn’t thrilled at making the extra trip, but the unkind words and thoughts had flown the coop when I’d seen the improvement in my daughter’s teeth. I smiled genuinely, and sincerely said that the inconvenience was worth it for those results.
Gratitude had trumped unkindness, as it does any day, in any circumstance.