Although he’s usually a pretty easy-going guy, one thing never fails to send Soren headfirst into a screaming, flailing rage. That thing is having his teeth brushed.
Dude hates having his teeth brushed more than he hates anything. That includes things he hates a lot, including but not limited to: (1) being picked up and removed after getting all up in other people’s business at City Park Jazz; (2) being told “no” or anything reasonably equivalent; (3) having exciting items, such as my watch or an iPhone, taken away from him; (4) having the poops all day long, holla.
He hates having his teeth brushed even when we’ve tried to make it an exciting learning experience by employing a two-toothbrush procedure, which involves using one toothbrush to brush his teeth while letting him hold a second toothbrush so he can, um, do whatever a toddler does with an instrument of torture with which he’d like to have no contact whatsoever.
He hates having his teeth brushed even though we made up and sing a song about tooth brushing to him. It’s sung to the tune of Watch My Feet by Dude ‘N Nem, only instead of Watch My Feet, it goes, as you might have guessed, Brush My Teeth. (Don’t brush me brush my teeth!) One day when Dude ‘N Nem and Yo Gabba Gabba get together and make Brush My Teeth happen, I hope we can get some sort of royalties or something. Anyway, however well-intentioned the song might be, it doesn’t actually work.
We tried regular baby toothbrushes featuring enthusiastically smiling animals. We tried the toothbrushes that fit on your finger and look like something you’d use on an unusually large house cat, such as a Maine Coon, perhaps. We tried weird baby toothpaste. We tried Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry (he’ll eat this, but by god you won’t brush his teeth with it).
We tried holding up a small mirror so he can gaze lovingly at himself while a giant hand shoves an object of torture into his tiny little baby mouth.
We even used one of those things they’d bust out at the doctor’s office when I was a kid and had to have my ears cleaned, which always freaked me out, that looks like a surfboard with straps. (As far as I can remember, I always stopped complaining before they had to actually use the surfboard/strap contraption and, to tell you the truth, I might be making it up entirely but I think they really brought it into the room one time when I was exceptionally feisty.) Just kidding. We didn’t actually do that. But we have, regrettably, employed the two-parent technique whereby one parent attempts to hold the flailing arms and the other parent attempts to hold the head and brush the teeth.
We usually try to engage in the brushing of the teeth while Soren is still in his high chair, because that prevents escape. I have, however, also tried brushing his teeth in more exciting environments, such as in front of the sink and on a sandy beach on the shores of Yap, Micronesia.
Nothing was working. I was afraid he’d — honestly, I don’t even know what I was afraid of here. What happens when a kid has janky-ass teeth? Does he get caps on them? Gold caps? Shit. If you’re starting kindergarten with gold teeth, face tattoos can’t be far behind. (“No face tattoos” is one of our ultimate commandments to Soren. I’ll tell you about the others sometime soon.) So I was worried.
Yesterday evening, after we finished dinner and while Ben was getting the bath and the dreaded toothbrush ready for Soren, I had a brilliant idea. I’d been watching the White Sox game on my iPhone and I realized that, if anything can get you through torture, it’s watching the most awesome team in Major League Baseball. While Ben brushed Soren’s teeth, I held the phone up for Soren to watch.
It actually worked. Soren watched the Sox game and didn’t complain about having his teeth brushed.
This morning, the White Sox weren’t on so I had to modify my strategy. This time, I opened the one child-oriented app I have on my elderly iPhone, Martha Speaks Dog Party. We did a little doggy dress up while Soren had his teeth brushed. These guys are our new tooth-brushing pals.
They’re kind of, if you don’t mind, a nice accessory!
So, if you’re having a hard time brushing your toddler’s teeth, consider distracting him with expensive technology, a habit I’m sure will never lead to any problems in the future. I guess being an Apple junkie is slightly better than having face tattoos. Most of the time, anyway.