Wednesday, 24 November 2010
I've decided, that, barring potty-training, teaching your kids to brush their teeth has got to be the single-most difficult task that a parent will ever have to face. Granted, I haven't encountered every single parenting task under the sun, but from where I stand right now, "daunting" does not cover the magnitude of this one.
I would venture to say that if someone could flawlessly execute the task of getting children to independently and regularly brush their teeth, they should be crowned royalty. In order to receive this honor, however, it should be done with no overt or covert harm done to the child's physical or emotional well-being.
I don't discount the value of bribery in this case. I, myself, used it quite effectively for potty training, against the advice of the all-knowing parenting magazines.
But, if anyone has the magic formula, I would have loved to have seen it 16 years ago. After putting all three through paletal expanders, spacers, braces, retainers and braces again and then retainers again, I feel like I should be some kind of an expert.
Quite the contrary! I feel a growing sensation of hopelessness and failure as a pseudo-dentist. My 13-year-old STILL flashes me a hairy yellow grin more often than I'd like to admit (or see!).
Child number 3 is lounging on the sofa watching the Disney Channel before school. "Are you ready for school?" "Yes, mom." (flashes yellow hairy dragon-breath smile that is supposed to be white and cute) I cringe. "Then why are your teeth growing things? Did you brush your teeth?" "Not yet." "Then please explain to me HOW you are ready for school."
I'm often reminded of the Crest White Strips commercial from several years back where the kindergarten teacher has her students gathered in a circle on the floor. They're playing the color guessing game. She smiles and points to her teeth (hint: answer is supposed to be white). All around the room we hear shouts of beige! Off-white! Ecru! Mother-of-pearl! It reminds me of that, except 10 times worse!
I've even employed the method of sicking our bully-dontist on their case. A small filipino woman, this orthodontist is much meaner than she looks. She would regularly send my kids back to the sink to re-brush and then brush them herself if she still wasn't satisfied after ten tries.
At times, I heard whimpering coming from behind the partitions and I shrunk down in my seat pretending to read a very important magazine at the end of each appointment to avoid the inevitable bully-dontist to mom lecture (which, for the record, didn't work). Instead I got a dose of inadequacy. Sigh.
Yes, I've tried reward systems, encouragement, education and punishment...did I mention bribery?
So the question remains, what IS the secret?! What's your secret for getting your kids to brush their teeth?
Is it too late for mine? Are they a lost cause?