The toothbrush truth
24 July 10
I hear confession is good for the soul.
And I’ve been mulling over my sparkling confession for this month. Of course, I don’t want to confess anything too juicy lest you get disappointed when the following month’s is quite tame. And yet, I don’t want you to think that these confessions are nothing much.
So I’m going to confess a mothering/parenting shortcoming to you. Then if you excel in this area, you can feel encouraged that you’re doing a good job (and you are!), for this is one area in which I/we can definitely improve.
Way back in January, a very kind friend babysat our girls for us and followed the normal evening routine: dinner, teeth, bed. Except it didn’t go very smoothly because our girls baulked at the teeth bit.
Debbie asked the girls to brush their teeth, and they boldly retorted with, “We don’t brush our teeth.” When Debbie recounted this story to me, I blathered about how we do sometimes brush their teeth, and yet it’s not really part of their bedtime routine. (I don’t think I was very convincing in my lie.)
I know one family that sets a sterling example in the ways their kids brush their teeth. They brush every morning after breakfast and definitely every evening before bed. There may even be some flossing squeezed into their daily schedule.
But the truth is that our girls’ teeth get brushed perhaps only a couple times a week, and usually if they initiate it. We just aren’t in the habit of encouraging them to do so after each meal.
It doesn’t help that David and I are both shower-brushers. We keep our toothbrushes in the shower and brush when we shower (and only occasionally apart from that), and so we aren’t in the brush-after-every-meal routine ourselves.
A year ago, when we sent the girls down to Grafton for a week with their grandparents so we could focus on our renovations, their toothbrushes returned untouched — still neatly tucked into a bag when I packed their stuff. At the time, I feigned righteous indignation as I recounted my discovery to friends (“They didn’t even brush the girls’ teeth!”), but the real truth was that if our daughters had stayed with us for those five days, it’s more than likely that their teeth wouldn’t have been brushed either!
Because it’s such a rare event, there have been times that the girls have seen tooth-brushing as a real privilege. Aisha has been known to throw a loud fit, protesting when Brioni has helped herself to a toothbrush and toothpaste without first asking permission. And when they do ask permission, and it’s granted, they run for the toothbrushes and toothpaste with glee — acting like they’ve been given the keys to a lolly shop!
All three girls have helped themselves on the sly to the kid-friendly, yummy toothpaste, sucking it out of the tube. Lately, they are getting the hang of spitting it into the sink, but more for effect rather than because it’s proper tooth-brushing etiquette.
When we do brush their teeth, I sing the ABC song to determine the length of the ordeal — and although I’ve been known to sing it veeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyy slowly, it’s still nowhere close to the three minutes of vigorous brushing recommended by dentists.
And that’s the toothbrush truth for our household. It only happens a couple times a week if we’re lucky. So if the girls end up with cavities, we’ll have to take full responsibility.
Have you got a confession for this month?