Mouth Guard

by gillis

The phone call from the school nurse is never a welcome one. It generally involves a fever or some unpleasant bodily fluids. When she called me yesterday, I was prepped for some vomiting, or maybe a suspicion of strep throat. Stomach virus and strep are both making the rounds of the middle school where I teach and I figured they had made their way to my son’s elementary school. Instead, it was a recess accident involving my son’s face, the blacktop, and the mysteries of gravitational pull. Something about a kickball game, losing his footing, and finding his teeth submerged into his lip. Lots of blood and his new orthodontia made for a few moments of heightened awareness on my part. His pediatrician referred us to the ER where they determined the teeth were all intact, the wound would heal, and no sutures were needed, just a thorough, painful, clean out and some antibiotics.

Fast forward to today where he is sitting on the bench watching his teammates play basketball. He can’t get his mouth guard in his mouth, and he can’t play again until he can wear the mouth guard. It has me thinking a lot about the mouth guard.

I think I could use a guard for my mouth. My rickety, creaky teeth could use some shoring up, but more than that, I think I could use a barrier between my mouth and the world. Keep out all the things that shouldn’t go inside –  doughnuts, chips, or that one drink over the line. Stop things from exiting that the world doesn’t need – like saying yes to doing something I don’t believe in, or speaking my truth just a bit too loudly or frequently.

In the meantime, I’ll sit on the bleachers across from the bench where my son sits watching his teammates. And I’ll try to bench myself when my imaginary mouth guard isn’t enough.