My kids are generally quite open and honest. This is good because they are incredibly inept at lying.
A prime example comes in the form of my son, the emotional pendulum known as Thing 2, when it comes to brushing his teeth.
If he has cleaned his crooked off-whites, it's all sweetness and chubby angelic cheeks and here, Daddio -- have a whiff of my minty Colgate breath. If he hasn't, he'll lie right to your face, providing your disembodied head is floating somewhere up near the ceiling because that is where is eyes roll up toward when he lets the bull fly.
"Let me smell your breath."
"Maahh! You don't believe me! Waaaaaaah!"
"If you brushed, then let me get a snootful of that fluoridey freshness."
"Dude, I felt the toothbrush and it's not wet. It's been three days since the bathroom was cleaned, yet the sink contains no globs of blue goo. And I marked the level of the anti-cavity rinse with a line on the bottle this morning and -- boo-yah -- it's unchanged."
"You HATE me!"
For a kid who has had four cavities fixed already at age 7, he's unusually stubborn about this.
He's also unusually oblivious. This is not the first time I've laid out how I compile all the evidence against him when he tries to fib his way out of brushing. Why doesn't he just run the brush under the water, put a dab of toothpaste on his tongue and a mess in the sink, and dump a little rinse out? I think it's because deep down, he's morally good and grounded.
And somewhat lazy.
What's a dad to do with a young 'un who refuses to practice good oral hygiene even though said young 'un maintains a diet based on all the major members of the -ose family: glucose, fructose, dextrose, etc?
I've tried reward charts, punishments, electric toothbrushes, musical toothbrushes, toothbrushes shaped like fire trucks, toothpastes featuring cartoon characters, toothpastes endorsed by TV stars -- you know, everything a good American would try except standing there and actually watching him brush because that would make me a helicopter parent and he needs to learn responsibility.
And, I'm somewhat lazy.
After one recent argument with him over his failure to brush and greater failure to lie convincingly about his previous failure, I rhetorically asked:
"What do I have to do to get you to brush your teeth?"
Since rhetoric, like penmanship, is not part of the second grade curriculum in our town, Thing 2 answered plainly:
"Drop your pants."
So I did.
As graceful a 'half monty' as a desperate dad could muster. (Boxer-briefs, don't fail me now!)
And no sooner did the pants hit the floor then up the stairs he scurried, twisted the tap and began to brush.
Maybe I'm on to something here?
Next, I will attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
For that, though, I may need an assistant.
And a wax job.
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