Being ever so wise and mature in my early 30s, I often think about how I handled situations as a kid. Usually I end that thought with, “Man that was dumb!” A particular memory comes to mind.
In my adolescent years, when everything was growing at different rates, I often heard comments like, “Don’t worry Danielle, you’ll grow into those monkey arms.” (followed by boisterous, ignorant laughter). Yes I was gangly; I was the epitome of awkward. Even my teeth came in weird. And that’s what my story is about. My teeth. I have always had a love-hate relationship with myself and my teeth were not loved.
You see, my canines thought they should enter through the top of my gums and not down with the rest of my teeth like civilized canines. Maybe they thought they were better than my other teeth and therefore they should sit higher up in my mouth? That is, if canines had brains, which they don’t; everyone knows that. You know which one are canines, right? If you were a vampire, your canines would be the long, razor sharp ones. My canines were not especially long, but they were razor sharp and they were out of place.
At the time, the more inquisitive kids would even ask me if I WAS a vampire. To which I’d reply, very seriously offended, “No. I am not.”
One especially mean kid would often continue with a followup question like, “Well, have you asked your parents? Maybe it’s in your genealogy.”
Kids are jerks. And freakin clever too. Who knows about genealogy at age 12?!
But, because of the constant commenting on my vampire teeth, I became very self conscious about my smile, and my laugh, and pretty much in talking to anyone anywhere that wasn’t in my immediate family. The evidence is in the especially awkward closed-mouth smile in all my old pictures.
It’s ok now to admit that I didn’t handle that, um, criticism very well. I was on the highway of insecurity and there were no exits nearby, not even those partial exits like on the toll road where they have a gas station and a McDonalds. It was a lonely, desolate road with me feeling like a fool and looking like a vampire.
Recently re-living that time in my head and silently cursing those cruel kids from my past, I thought: if I could go back to young Danielle, I’d tell her,
“Hey Kiddo, your teeth won’t be like that forever. And you’re NOT a vampire. I mean, you don’t even like the taste of blood (Ew!). And that one time, it really was just ketchup on your face. Don’t be afraid to smile, laugh, and for Heaven’s sake, speak! I will be thankful… or you will be thankful… or we’ll both be thankful when you thank yourself later. Oh! And your body will catch up to your arms.”
And then I’d say something really deep and philosophical that serves no purpose other than to impress my young self with all my wisdom and knowledge of big words.