The Agony of the Teeth

Everyone hates going to the dentist.

These days, my two-year-old’s bedtime routine is making me hate BEING the dentist.

I didn’t realize that teaching my kid how to be a normal person would be such hard work.

There are a lot of everyday activities that we adults take for granted as simple, almost instinctual, parts of our daily routine:

Going to the bathroom; taking a bath or a shower; getting dressed; brushing our teeth; feeding ourselves; and so on. These are all things we do every day as a matter of course, with hardly a thought given to how or why we do them.

It wasn’t until I had a kid that I remembered that I wasn’t born knowing how to do those things; I had been taught. education, teaching, kids, children, toddlers, learning, development, hygiene, dentist, family, parenting, fatherhood, motherhood, toddlers

And now I am the teacher. And I kind of suck at it.

I don’t have the patience to be a teacher. I only have one kid and sometimes I barely have enough patience for him! And teaching him some of these basic tasks is proving quite difficult, especially in the midst of what has been his toughest stretch of behavior since he was born.

It’s hard to get him into the bath and then it’s hard to get him out of it. Getting him to eat well is a battle to the death every day (last week the kid ate a penny that I eventually had to fish out of his dirty diaper but he won’t eat a pork chop? I CALL BULLSHIT.), and potty training has thus far been a frustrating series of false starts. Lately, though, brushing my son’s teeth has been the toughest task of all.

My son is obsessed with doing everything by himself, including brushing his teeth. Unfortunately, his version of brushing his teeth involves little to no actual brushing. Instead, he jams the brush into his mouth, sucks off the toothpaste, bites the brush head a few times and then tosses it into the sink. Like every other aspect of his bedtime routine, trying to actually accomplish what we need to accomplish – in this case, managing to actually clean some of his teeth – becomes a wrestling match. Mom and Buried and I dread this nightly ritual so much that we basically draw straws to see who must endure the, teeth, kids, children, hygiene, teaching, learning, education, parenting, family, home, living, health, fatherhood, dads, moms, toddlers, motherhood

It’s partly him asserting his independence and partly him doing whatever he can to delay his bedtime and completely him being annoying and delaying the start of last night’s “Mad Men.” I’d be more than willing to let it go – his teeth are going to fall out anyway! – if my wife weren’t so determined to make sure he learns how to so this simple, basic, necessary daily task. She wants to make sure that when he gets his permanent teeth they don’t quickly fall out too. Of course, if he keeps up this terrible twos junk, someday someone is going to knock them all out, expert brusher or not.

Teaching children anything is difficult, but at least there are schools for reading and math and all that academic stuff. Apparently we parents are stuck with this other essential life-lesson junk.

For someone who is not even slightly religious, I’m doing an awful lot of homeschooling.

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5 thoughts on “The Agony of the Teeth

  1. Sit on the toilet with him on your lap. Wrap one of his arms around your back and while he rests his head in the bendy part of your arm (real technical, I know).. use that same arm to hold on to his other arm. This keeps him from using his arms to cover up his mouth or mess with you. Also – make a big deal about TICKLING your teeth with the toothbrush. The whole time you’re brushing laugh and say “tickle tickle tickle! daddy tickles his teeth!” And do the same with your little. It works wonders for my (almost) two year old daughter! When I’m done brushing, I let her do it and help her learn!

    Working in dentistry, it is sad to see how many parents don’t care about their children’s dental hygiene. It is imperative to keep his teeth clean!

    Good luck and don’t give up!! (:

    1. oooh thanks for this! the title of this blog post attracted me because i’m desperate for tips on how to get my 18 month old to brush.

  2. My daughter is 8 and still has many of the same issues. Fights taking shower, fights getting out of shower. Fights eating her dinner, always claims she’s starving. Last dentist trip was a nightmare, all the crying and whining, tried to give her noz to calm her down, only escalated things as she refused to breathe in through her nose. Thought I was going to punch her in the teeth myself.

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