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Acne Wash and Braces, We Meet Again in a New Generation

Sorry, kids. This too shall pass.

If you ever wore braces, you’ll never take for granted the simple pleasure of  biting into an apple with smooth teeth and no more railroad tracks, rubber bands, or brackets. Popcorn at the movies feels decadent even without butter.

And who remembers the blessed relief of realizing one day that a breakout was an occasional curse rather than a state of being? Hormonal fluctuations might cause an eruption now and then, but otherwise the skincare routine seems to be doing the trick. Free of the medicated cleansers at last.

Sadly, puberty still hasn’t changed. After enduring all the products and advice available back in the day, it’s time to go back through braces and breakouts with my kids. I like to think they doubt that I suffered all the teenage angst and ills, thanks to my exhaustive efforts to destroy or hide the unbecoming photos (you can do that with an un-Instagrammed past). I really had forgotten what chore it was to deal with the indignities of puberty.

It’s difficult on the mom side as well. Those smooth, fat-rolled little bodies that I used to drench in baby wash now need deodorant. The chubby little feet I used to kiss? Whew. They are now shod in smelly shoes I hold away at arm’s length.

Nowadays I’m checking the insurance summary plan description for orthodontia benefits and reading the labels on facial cleansers. It’s me who is preaching about wearing the retainer and reminding them how expensive those smiles are. Don’t even think about sticking that Laffy Taffy in your mouth. Do you have any idea what those braces cost? (“Mommy’s face lift fund”, I think to myself silently.)

In the skincare aisle, the chemistry is coming back to me: Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, oil-free formulas. It’s coming back in the laundry as well, in towels and pillowcases with bleach spots (so much for the matching sheet set). I find myself sitting in waiting rooms for orthodontists and dermatologists and wondering how many hours I will collectively devote to school checkouts and check ins, picking up prescriptions, and rescheduling appointments that fall on test days.

Kids, this phase will help you build character. One day you will again bite out of an apple and appreciate the experience. You will chew through a bag of caramel corn, and you will have clear skin and can soon enough replace acne lotions with wrinkle erasing formulas.

We all get through it. Just know I won’t be any help with erasing some of these puberty-stricken moments with all the close-range selfies you are posting on Instagram.