Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Low in Pediatric Dental Care

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.


  1. On the plus side, The absence of the "Ability to Spin" in Thing 2's character may save him from several careers:

    Bank CEO
    Ad/PR Exec

    (No offense to other readers. I must include myself in one, okay - may be two, of the above professions.)

  2. What, dear Lord, about dropping your pants made the kid want to brush his teeth? *shudder* I shudder to think about it.

  3. Um, I need to brush my teeth. Just Sayin'

  4. Wow. I'm wondering about all the good things I could get my husband to do with a line like that!

  5. You mean you need assistance, like "American Drops Pants For Over Seas Conflict - News At 11:00" sort of thing? Maybe we could combine it with another Hands Across America - and do it pant-less.

  6. Ahh... the sweet smell of control.

    Wait til he tells his schoolmates about Daddy dropping his pants.

    Oh, wait. You just did.


    Good luck with that. (I'm wondering what he'll want next time...)

    - Julia

  7. I would hate to think what the take away was from him potty training lessons.

    (Seriously, if you want to scare him straight into a dutiful life of tooth brushing, show him pictures of old people ...and carnival folk)

  8. I read a NY Times article about the ability to lie in children. They learn it from us parents!

    But, man, what a line.

  9. Nothing is better than a smart ass seven year old (except the smartass dad who will give him a run for his money)

  10. I'm trying that on my husband...for other stuff.

  11. yeah... speaking as a school teacher, not only will his friends know, but so will his teacher.

    Ignore the one raised eyebrow the next time you walk through that classroom door...LOL

  12. Dude, I'm not sure that's a viable long term solution :-) You think it was shock therapy or that you unexpectedly complied with his request? Either way, nice job.

  13. Oh God I had one like that too!!! At 11 my son was an idiot about refusing to shower. He sat on the john (yeah, I saw his feet under the door as this was an investigatable offense happening WAY too often!) he ran the water in the shower, rubbed some dry bar soap on his head, never bothered to wet the washcloth, or towel, but he shoved his stinky head, complete with eau de ZEST, in my face and lied bold faced saying he took his shower!

    Beware Kevin - they have advanced crap comin your way!:)

  14. good luck in the event he tells the story in school and I shudder to think what the reaction would be :(

  15. I don't get it ... I always loved brushing and flossing. Perhaps it was because it was the only time my mom was asking me to do something instead of yelling at me to do something.


  16. Every time I have to take my boys to the dentist, I tell them the dentist will have to pull all their teeth out because there's no way in the world they won't be riddled with cavities. Shockingly, and I have no idea how this is the case when they brush their teeth for seconds at best, they come out cavity free every time.

    I may need to employ your better brushing method, but I think I'll have to hire out for a pants dropper. Submit your resume if interested.

  17. That is some impressive conflict-resolution you have going on in your household! We have exactly the same conversations with my son nearly every day. He thinks I'm magic in my ability to ferret out his lies. In truth, he's just a really bad liar. Now, to add to the daily toothbrushing lies, Nicholas is old enough to have grown into lies about putting on deodorant each morning. Apparently, the boy doesn't have a functioning nose, but is amazed that I do.

    Our daily exchange, now that he's resigned himself to the fact that I have the magical ability of divination:
    Me--"You got dressed, but you didn't put on deodorant! Go take care of it."
    Him--"Yes, I did. I put on deodorant!"
    Me--"GO! Put it on now!"
    Him--(Dejectedly) "Okay..."

  18. Funny...I suggest not doing that on the soccer field, though, as some parents may frown upon that sort of thing. Whenever my kids give me a hard time about brushing their teeth, I make a drilling sound and tell them that they're going to hear that sound a lot at the dentist if they don't brush their teeth.

  19. In Norway we have a thrilling tale about two dental trolls living in a little boys teeth. Very effective indeed, Here's a summary and a video clip of it:

  20. What would the kids do if we really admitted under tha accusation that yes, in fact, we do hate them?

  21. LOL, that image of the way you got him to brush his teeth is very very funny in my mind! Lol!

    I don't know if it would have the same effect from me to my son, I'd give him nightmares for years, poor guy would be in therapy the rest of his life!

    But he also has a hard time telling the truth when he doesn't brush :)

  22. Just hope he doesn't make that request when you want him to eat his vegatables at a restaurant.

    But isn't it amazing how much more difficult we make things sometimes as parents? If you would have known that would have worked earlier, you would have dropped your pants on day one, I'm sure.

  23. I have this same fight with my 9 year old son, and I can't understand WHY he doesn't WANT to brush his teeth.

    I'm walking around with no pants on tomorrow morning.

  24.'re SO making me excited about having kids...........

  25. My husband must have read this.

    Because he's been refusing to brush his teeth.


    I'm tired of walking around with my pants off.


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