My youngest child needs to have her wisdom teeth out. Just as with her three older siblings (and most young adults), her third molars are impacted into her jaw and need to be surgically removed.
I still vividly remember having my own wisdom teeth extracted back in the days of chloroform and leeches. I was actually hospitalized overnight and can remember my mom coming to my hospital room with a milkshake to make me feel better. My own kids all weathered the experience reasonably well and were kind of funny as they slowly came out of their anesthetized haze. My older daughter kept telling me she thought the fish wallpaper in the oral surgeon’s office was so pretty, and my younger son kept slapping his cheek and exclaiming, “I can’t feel anything!”
Wisdom teeth are vestiges of our early millennia as homo sapiens. Early human diets were uncooked and rough, and people lost teeth on a regular basis. So third molars were very important to survival. As humans evolved and ate a softer diet, our jaws narrowed and now rarely can allow the wisdom teeth to break the surface of the gums.
So having wisdom teeth removed has become a rite of passage for young adults. For me, it has been a time when I could baby my children who are not really little kids anymore. For at least a couple of days, I could park them on the sofa, ice their cheeks, and prepare Jello and other soft foods for them to eat. I could watch TV with them and wish these lazy summer days wouldn’t end.
My youngest child will be a junior in high school in the fall. She is driving and going out most nights with friends. Soon she will be taking ACTs and SATS, applying to colleges, and making her way out into the adult world step by step. I hope the presence of her so-called “wisdom teeth” indicates a maturity that will enable her to be sensible and safe. And I hope I have the wisdom to let her grow up and leave the nest, however hard it will be for me.
Still, I look forward to babying the baby of the family when she gets her wisdom teeth taken out. We still have a lot of TV to watch together.