I am about to share with you, one of my many short comings of being a parent. Let's just say I was definitely a much better mom in theory, than reality. I spent so many years around teenagers, I began to believe the little ones would be a piece of cake.
My kids love to brush their teeth. They would brush their teeth 3, 4, 5 times a day if I let them. But most days, I allow them to brush them once, maybe twice on a really good day, and on a bad one…well, let’s just say, there have been times when I send them to bed with all that sugar on their teeth and regret it later. I know what most of you are thinking, Many parents have to fight their kids to brush their teeth. I should consider myself fortunate. I know. I know. But let me explain.
When my 3- and 4 -year old decide they want to brush their teeth, they first of all, must do it together. They both go into the bathroom, and my son, the 4 year old who is tall for his age, will reach over the sink and grab his Spiderman toothbrush and then hand his sister her Hello Kitty toothbrush. My son then turns the water on and reaches for his toothpaste. I will reach over to grab my daughter’s My Little Pony toothpaste, the one for “training” so she doesn’t swallow a ton of fluoride, and the argument begins.
"No. I want the Cars toothpaste.""No, this is your toothpaste.""No. '(whining commences)"Don’t you want Pony toothpaste? Aw look, pony is sad. Don't make pony sad.""No. I want Cars." (she's got a cold heart, like her dad. )"But you aren’t ready for Cars toothpaste and mommy bought the Pony one for you.""I want Cars."
This goes on for several minutes until I finally give in and ask her brother to hand me the Cars toothpaste. He is just finishing putting the paste on his brush, and I realize the water has been running all this time, thus negating all of my efforts to pay back the environment for my use of Aqua Net Hairspray in the 80s.
My son then begins to brush his teeth like a good little guy, as my daughter insists on putting the toothpaste on the brush herself, which she cannot do. She tries for what in reality is about 15 seconds but feels like 15 minutes, then turns to me and asks me to do it. I do and she puts the entire glob of paste in her mouth, just behind her lip and in front of her teeth, and then asks for more on her brush. Knowing that if I don’t do this, another 10 minute argument will ensue, only this time there will be toothpaste spit all over the bathroom floor, I go ahead and put a little bit more saying, “Ok. But that’s it.” Then she turns the brush the wrong way and the paste glob falls on the floor. Now she starts to cry, but I quickly put some more paste on the brush. That’s just about the time when my 4 year old, who you all, by now, are probably thinking is the poster child for dental health, grabs his cup and fills it with water to rinse his mouth. He swishes it around while looking at his cute little reflection in the mirror and SPLAT! With all his might, he spits the water across the sink onto the mirror and all over the back of my sink. He does this every single time.
EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
So I yell at him, because by this time all patience has left my body. My daughter reaches for her cup as my son decides he now needs to wash his hands. (Note: My son washes his hands like he is preparing for surgery. Soap all the way up to his elbows.) I am trying to stop him from his extreme washing when my daughter, who is tired of waiting for me to fill her cup with water, climbs on the toilet to reach the sink. I reach over to grab her down, while my son dries his hands by shaking the remaining water onto the mirror and surrounding walls, just in case everything wasn’t covered the first time. We do have towels. I swear we do! He runs out before I can yell again, and I stay in to lift my daughter up and down to rinse her mouth and then yell at her to not swallow the water and paste.
So now you see why I really don't like for my kids to brush their teeth. But of course, I know it is important to their oral health and the health of their entire bodies. We know this because since elementary school we heard about it. We saw the cute little tooth brushes and teeth cartoon characters and were told it is what we need to do. And if that wasn't convincing enough, we saw examples of why we should do it. One of my favorite movies as a little girl was Pete’s Dragon. Even then, I knew something wasn’t right about the Gogans’ dental hygiene.
So, I man up and go in the bathroom with those two angels from God who were sent here to make me pay for everything I ever did to my mom and dad, and go through the routine. Because one day, it won’t be so hard. And every day, it will be worth it.
That’s what I remind myself of every time I think about what a pain the rear it is to not only put on my own sunscreen, but to put it on my kids as well. The experience is much like the tooth brushing one. My son doing what is expected until he gets bored and catching me occupied elsewhere, pours the sunscreen all over the place, including the clean outfit I just put on. My daughter, still wanting to be independent, wants it on her hands and even though I beg her to just rub her arms, not her face, she goes straight to the face, so she can then yell, “Mommy, you got it in my eyes!”
Yep. It can be a pain to put on sunscreen. It can be thick. It can be sticky. It can be messy. Had I not had my experience with melanoma, and the fear of it coming back, or even worse, the idea that may children can get it, I would probably walk out of the house 9 out of 10 times saying,
“We won’t be out for long.”
“We’ll be in the car most of the time.”
“I’ll put it on later.”
Don’t wait until Melanoma strikes you to get the urge to fight off a little bit of extra time in your prep to leave the house. I can definitely understand the struggle to do anything with children, but remember, most things in life that are good for us, aren’t easy. Just think about how many of you like to exercise or eat broccoli.
Maybe one day we will read something like this, but with the words I've added.
"But research is unearthing evidence that says that skipping mouth (skin) care is a dangerous strategy because what begins quietly at the gum line (outer layer of skin) can later set off a chain of events that can lead to heart attack, memory loss, stroke and miscarriage (skin damage, scarring, surgery, cancer, and death). And of all the measures we know of that can avert a potentially life-threatening disease, oral care(using sunscreen) is probably one the most effortless activities one can do."
Excerpt from Can Good Oral Hygiene Save Your Life
Thanks for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun.