We were all sitting in the living room, tonight, when my wife told me that my son had already chipped the veneer on his tooth. She’d taken him to the dentist just this afternoon.
I stormed into the kitchen where the 13-year-old boy was getting himself a glass of water.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted. “Do you think I’m stupid enough to pay for orthodontics? You can’t even keep your five hundred dollar teeth for four hours.”
He left the room, but not before I saw the tears well up and his lip quiver. He plopped down into the leather recliner in the family room. I stormed onto the deck, alone, and leaned against the rail facing the backyard.
I tried to think of all the rights I had to be pissed. Five hundred dollars for two veneers to cover the chunks he’d lost on a Razor scooter two years ago. Five hundred dollars I don’t have.
As I stood in the stupefying heat and palpable humidity, self-loathing metastasized from my gut to my eyes like a super-aggressive cancer that moves through a body faster than a bullet. “I’m a monster,” I muttered under my breath. God heard it, I hope. I hated myself. Still do.
This is a very good kid I’d just destroyed. He has hi s faults, but he’s the one who appears when I go out to work in the yard on a Saturday. He’s the one who changes his Christmas list every year, removing gifts he thinks are too expensive. He’s the eternally happy baby who kept me from killing myself after his seven-year-old sister drowned in 1994, a few days before Christmas.
I walked back into house a minute later. The recliner was vacant, but someone was in the kitchen. I looked in. It wasn’t him.
I went downstairs, but he wasn’t in the lower family room nor the rec room. I continued to the hall to his bedroom. The light was on, and his door was locked.
I knocked, a second and third time, before the lock clicked. He opened the door with his head down to hide his tears and shame. He turned to get away from me, and I can’t blame him.
I reached in and grabbed his arm and pulled him to me and hugged him.
“I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve that. I know you didn’t do that on purpose. You are such a good kid. I’m sorry. I just want you to look as good as you can. You’re a good looking kid, and I don’t want anything to mess it up.”
He said it was okay. I know it isn’t.
I hope he gets over this before I do. I don’t know if I ever will.