My daughter just consulted with an oral surgeon. In June, they're going to cut into her gums to extract a sunken tooth. Unlucky for her, the offending tooth never emerged. Instead, it drifted in the opposite direction beneath her other teeth like a buried treasure. She can't feel it, but the x-ray is messed up, man.
The surgeon, he's consulting with her and my wife, talking about cutting through muscle and bone, through skin and tissue, and my daughter, she's taking it all in. Not crying or shaking. Nothing. Like no biggie. She's 13.
I had my fair share of surgery when I was a kid. Tubes in my ears, three times. Adenoids removed, twice. Tonsils, once. I detested the smell of antiseptic. Despised the drafty hospital gown. The cold floor on my feet. The worst, by far without a doubt, were the shots. There were always shots.
The last surgery for me, I was 13. I was standing there with a grumpy nurse in a small room. Waiting. And Waiting. "Just a little stick," she said, when I asked. "To make your mouth dry."
Still young. Still trusting. I pictured a tongue depressor that would make my mouth dry. They must've invented something to replace the evil shot. The shot, surely created by the devil.
But then the needle arrived.
And I assumed the position.
The needle went in, like shooting rocks. I hunkered down and took it. Just like always. Not crying, not this time, just wondering why there had to be pain in the universe. Why can't it all be milk and cookies? Why can't everything feel awesome?
When she was done, when I was rubbing the dull pain in my ass and grumbling, moaning and maybe whimpering (maybe), she said, casually, "If you curl your toes, it doesn't hurt as much."
After. She said it after.
I know, if I live long enough, the days of poking and prodding, of curling my toes will be back. My daughter, she's got it ahead of her. And you'd never know it.
She's a heavyweight champ.