He was nearly two feet shorter and weighed just enough to be blown down the street by a light north wind when we first ducked into 635 Anderson Road.
Now, towering above me, my son, Chase, is about to be liberated from the orthodontist. A modern-day rite of passage, the braces are finally off.
And the results are beautiful.
I mean handsome.
Actually, I didn’t intend to gush and I apologize for all previous, current and future foolishness. One day, I’ll learn to eat my words.
Just not today.
Selecting an orthodontist was unusually stressful for our family because my husband had a horrific experience in his youth. In short, that doctor’s license eventually was revoked.
Say what you will about Davis moms, but nothing competes with their extraordinary force of nature. A substandard practitioner wouldn’t last long enough in this town to hang a shingle. That’s probably why, as I’ve come to learn, Davis is home to many excellent orthodontists.
In our case, we sought recommendations from the parent network and settled on Dr. Benton Runquist, the choice of a decidedly qualified combatant (aka: mother of three boys).
Because orthodontic patients are typically adolescents, embracing this trying cluster of years demands a highly specialized, if not otherworldly, demeanor. Not only does Dr. Runquist excel when relating to tweens and teens, he’s a role model for the harried parent in the waiting room working to recover from whatever conversational mishap occurred on the ride over. Emulate his noninvasive style, and your offspring might offer more than a grunt in response to your loathsome questioning.
Looking back on the years of monthly visits, spacers, bands, wisdom teeth and even the dreaded headgear, Dr. Runquist has been one of the most frequent adults in Chase’s life. That’s why choosing an outstanding doctor as well as a guy who passes social muster with the younger set is so important.
We still have the retainer phase in front of us, but a few things deserve mention.
Every Halloween, patients and non-patients alike can exchange candy for money — a pound for a dollar. The sweet stuff is then shipped overseas to members of the armed forces. Look for a detailed advertisement in The Davis Enterprise later this month.
Though he’s a stickler for strong oral hygiene, Dr. Runquist also likes a good time. Chase appreciated the end-of-braces celebratory bag filled to the brim with everything that had been forbidden.
And in the waiting room, it’s always impressive to peruse the patient brag wall where students’ athletic and other accomplishments are clipped from the newspaper and posted for all to see. Dr. Runquist views each patient as a whole person, not just another set of teeth.
Like all milestones, the fact that orthodontia soon will be a part of our past makes me a little misty, even though its absence translates as great news for Chase.
But before we go, thank you, Dr. Runquist, for making Chase laugh (even when it had to hurt), the flossing habits you instilled (“floss the teeth you want to keep”), and for proving, by example, we’re no longer parents of a young child.
With care and respect, you treated him like the adult he’s becoming. And, for that, we’re most grateful.
–Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis. Her column appears monthly. Reach her at email@example.com.