I Want A Pony

My extended family used to utter a phrase when we wanted extra attention for no particular reason: “I want a pony.” Were we an equestrian family? Nope. I am guessing here, but I think the only types of horses any of us rode were of the petting zoo variety. Well, except for that time that I went to the rodeo and sat on a really tall thoroughbred. That beautiful horse judged me, wouldn’t move, didn’t care that the owner was cajoling it to “trot.” It walked maybe four steps and then turned and entered the corral. I’d been dismissed by a horse. This is only to illustrate that I have no particular interest in horses, ponies, donkeys, or any other neighing and braying critter.

Except for when I want attention. Then I want a pony, a parade, cookies, streamers, and crowds of people cheering. Recently, after five years of treatment for a jaw situation, I had run the last lap of orthodontia and went to my getting-the-braces-off appointment. After the doctor, who I adore by the way, removed the last bracket and buffed my teeth to opalescent, coffee-stained goodness, I looked at my slimy teeth and grinned. I had made it through this odd and tangled adventure of pain and procedure, therapy, and finally, braces. I hugged everyone in the office, which surprised one of the staff members because I hadn’t met him before. I really didn’t care; I was celebrating freedom, the ability to eat nachos, peanuts, and even a – hands on heart – Snickers bar. Wow. Goodness. I had to sit and think about the choices.

I texted friends and family that my teeth were unshackled, sang songs the whole way home, and entered the house rejoicing. You can predict this: it didn’t matter to anyone. Not my husband, who has had to kiss me with all my appliances over these years; and certainly not my son, who didn’t care what my mouth looked like. I posted a quick text on my social media, and was congratulated with happiness and celebration. But where was my pony? I could now chew, yawn, and grin without reflecting light, so there should be some sort of festival in my honor, right?

Wrong. The world did not know how much it hurt to chew because I never said anything. No one much cared that I looked a little funky; they’d comment, and then move on with the course of their day. I remain grateful for this. Occasionally someone would mention what a trooper I was being, but that was also only in passing. After all the treatment, I wanted a super duper trooper poster with a balloon bouquet, even though it would have been silly to receive one.

I type sheepishly now because I know that I was being self-centered. My jaw situation (TMJ for those who like maxilofacial conditions) was remedied. My doctor was amazing, patient, told jokes, and let me talk incessantly about my job and whatever else was on my mind at the time of the appointments. I’m pretty sure if anyone deserves a pony, it’s probably him for having to put up with my threats to shoot at him with the rubber bands of my braces.

Last week my in-laws sent a package to the family because they’re cool like that. In it, they included a card with a note congratulating me on making it through my treatment. I cried. Ponies come in all shapes and sizes, and mine was a quick note. I write this rumination now because I know it’s my turn to give someone else a pony. After all, the whole point of the metaphorical pony is to let someone know you’re thinking of them even if their situation isn’t that big a deal.

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