Helping My Daughter Recover From Wisdom Tooth Removal Turned Into An Unexpected Gift

by Lisa Sugarman
Lisa writes the nationally syndicated column "It Is What It Is" and is the author of Untying Parent Anxiety.

I’m a firm believer that there’s humor in just about everything. With obvious exceptions like death and illness and a few others, of course.

So when my oldest daughter, just north of nineteen, found out she needed another wisdom tooth pulled, I couldn’t help but see the yin and the yang in that situation. I knew it was gonna be tough for her but hilarious for me.

Now don’t jump to conclusions that I’m some heartless mom-witch who likes to see her child suffer. There’s no Munchausen syndrome by proxy here, don’t worry. I don’t get off on my kid’s pain. What I do get off on is seeing her doped up on pain killers and slavering on herself.

That’s like found money.

If you’ve ever had a kid who’s had major dental surgery, like a wisdom tooth extraction, then you get it. While we’re basically their indentured servant for a couple of days, you do get the hidden benefit of watching them dribble and salivate all over themselves when they miss their mouth with the water glass, not to mention talk like lunatics while they’re a little out of it. (As a parent, I take whatever entertainment I can get.)


Believe me, very little in this world is as funny as a kid coming out of anesthesia. The things that get said and done are some of the most unique and organic forms of entertainment out there.

Just take this girl who came out of anesthesia crying over the fact that she didn’t wake up as rapper Nicki Minaj: If you’re not one of the over four million people to see the video her husband shot, you need to, because it’s wet-your-pants hilarious. And the best part is that it’s completely unscripted, raw comedy.


This girl was so out of her mind when she woke up, that she was in tears over the fact that she didn’t have Nicki’s butt. Oh, and she was also distraught that she didn’t wake up as best friends with Ellen DeGeneres. Like, you just can’t make this stuff up.

In my daughter Riley’s case, though, because she only had one tooth that needed to come out this time around, she wasn’t under that long, so the degree of loopiness was significantly less. Regardless, it was still an entertaining little dinner show for us.


Here’s what went down: “Oh, hi muuuuuuummy” [Eyes super wide and stoned-like]. “I saw a Pokémon run through here when I woke up. And I also think I said some swear words. Hee hee, sorry.” Yup, those were my daughter’s first words to me post-surgery. And I literally almost peed myself right there in the recovery room.

Then she had me send a video a message to my other daughter that, in no uncertain terms, she insisted was absolutely going to be shared with the entire free world. Good stuff.

Mother watches tenderly over daughter

I mean, it’s obviously funny when we watch other people being goofy like that, but when it’s our own kid saying and doing off-the-wall stuff like that, it’s priceless. And when you combine that with them being a little needy for the first time in years, it’s really a rare kind of happening.

For the first time since she was little, my daughter let me take care of her. Let me wipe the milkshake off her chin when she couldn’t feel it dribbling down. Let me sit on the edge of her bed and watch hilarious videos of wisdom-tooth patients post-surgery. She reverted back to the vulnerable little girl I used to snuggle and take care of when she was sick. And I’ll be honest, a part of me was relishing in it.

Running feet

What can I say, I took an incredible amount of pride and satisfaction in the fact that I was the preferred ice-pack deliverer and watermelon-cutter. Apparently my daughter didn’t think my husband could cube up watermelon and put it in a bowl quite like me, because she only wanted me. And being perfectly honest, it made me feel wanted and needed in a way that I haven’t for a long time.

Because you have to keep in mind that aside from allowing me the “gift” of doing her laundry from time to time, my fiercely independent daughter has no real interest anymore in being mothered. She wants to take care of herself, and as much as I try to sometimes, I can’t fault her for it. It’s actually the cycle of life. And while I try not to take it personally and understand that learning to live her own life is a rite of passage, it still stings that she doesn’t need me as much anymore.


I guess that’s why her being helpless and needy (and pathetic) after her surgery was such an unexpected gift for me. It gave me a chance to be a real mom to her again, while providing some legitimate comic relief. So if it wasn’t illegal, I might actually consider mixing a little hydrocodone into her juice every morning just so I can relive the magic every single day.

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