With no kids, the buck teeth stop here

Sue selfie Jan 2018I had buck teeth. My top front teeth stuck out, and I may have been called Bucky Beaver every now and then. My parents, kind souls that they were, never said an unkind word about it. They took me to an orthodontist and got the teeth moved into a more ordinary configuration. They got the bottom ones that were jumbled up straightened out, too. When I was 19, they paid for oral surgery to fix a problem inside my lower lip.

None of this was fun. Methods were more primitive back in the 1960s. I had wires attached to metal bands around each tooth, tightened up every few weeks. I wore a headgear at night, rubber bands that squeaked when I opened my mouth, and a retainer which kept the embarrassment going after the bands were removed. My teeth ache just thinking about it. My braces cost a fortune. Mom spent countless afternoons driving me to the orthodontist, and I went through a lot of pain, but it was worth it. Over the years, people have often complimented me on my smile. I know how lucky I am. Not every family can afford any kind of dental care.

Lately, my lower teeth have started jumbling up again. I think I’m stuck with it. Braces are pretty low on my priority list now. Mom isn’t around to take care of it.

But here’s the thing. I was not the first generation in my family to wear braces. It’s very likely that if I had children, they would have inherited my crooked teeth. My mother wore braces. In old photos, it looks like my paternal grandmother, who died before I got a chance to know her, had buck teeth, too. She also wore glasses. I suspect she was nearsighted like me. My other grandmother gave me the Roman nose with the bump shared by most of her siblings.

Heredity. Whether it’s crooked teeth, a giant nose, mental illness or a fatal disease, people pass their traits down through the generations. Of course, some genetic traits are wonderful things. I got my brown eyes and lively mind from my mom, too. I have to credit both parents for my good health. I’m proud to carry on the Avina and Fagalde family lines.

But I’m not carrying them very far. As the end of my branch of the family tree, I won’t pass on either the brown eyes or the buck teeth. My cousins with their many children and my brother with his one biological child are passing on their share, but no one will inherit my exact combination of traits.

Our guest speaker at our writer’s group Sunday shared a piece she wrote about being adopted. She will never know how she came to be the way she is. That seems like such a loss. She and her husband have cats, no kids. Will she wind up being just a “one-off,” no one behind, no one ahead?

Depending on how you look at it, having no one to inherit our genetic traits is either very sad or a relief. My brother’s teeth came out straight. His daughter’s teeth are good. With luck, the buck teeth stop with me.

Do you think about what you are not passing on if you don’t have children? Please share in the comments.


5 thoughts on “With no kids, the buck teeth stop here

  1. My first niece was born blind in one eye. It is a nerve issue and nothing will fix it, so she will forever be blind in one eye. My second niece was born with Torticollis and spent the first two years of her life in Physical Therapy trying to reshape her skull. When she finally was discharged, her head was close to being a normal shape, however her one ear was substantially lower than the other and they both stuck out like an elf. She never wore a ponytail as a little girl as other kids would question or make fun of her. She ended up having surgery to correct the ears. Her parents’ insurance would not pay a penny of the surgery because they viewed it as cosmetic, so they went into debt. My third niece was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 6 and that family’s lives have never been the same. So for me to think if I did have a child that it would turn out perfect and healthy is a pretty big stretch and that’s not including all the drunks and drug addicts on both sides of our family. As much as I regret never having children, I can’t help but think that its true when people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”


  2. It’s interesting because I often think that my path to not having children may have been a blessing in disguise. A few years after it became clear that my husband and I were not going to have a child together, I learned that I have a condition called Cavernous Angiomas. In short, it is a condition in my brain where I can have bleeding on the brain or even worse, a stroke. It is a rare disorder, and I am still not sure if it is genetic or not. I have heard two important things. One is that it could cause a problem for myself during delivery of a child. The second and even more important is that it could be passed down genetically. I would have felt beyond horrible if I had passed this condition down to our child. I have three angiomas and have thankfully been lucky, having only mild to few symptoms, but it does not mean that our never-to-have-been-born child could have been as lucky. So many people believe that when they have children, they will be born perfect and healthy. Most are, but there are many that are not.


  3. Yes I think this. It helps me rationalise childlessness, to some extent. My mum is bipolar. It was first triggered when she was post-natal after having me. Physically, mentally and emotionally, I am more like my Dad, but I do wonder if it could have triggered in me if I’d had a child. Or if a child of mine might have had it.

    I can also relate to what your speaker who was adopted said. My parents and cousins are my closest blood relatives. We live 100 miles from them, seeing them every two months or so. I spend most of my life surrounded by my husband’s family, who all look similar to one another. I am often in a room with their wider family and find myself thinking, I am the only person in this room with no blood tie to anybody else. I feel like an oddity amongst them.


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