pro tip: toddler vs toothbrush

Listen, I don't usually toot my own horn, but beep beep, motherfuckers.

My parenting tonight was ON POINT.

My children have been fundamentally altered by my emotional and intellectual brilliance.

Pretty sure that tonight is gonna be mentioned in your history books. 96% positive that Blue Ivy will crush her first solo album based on songs that were inspired by my parenting, on this night,  tonight.

Don't believe me?

Pull up a chair and let me tell you the tale of a conflict as old as time. Step aside, man versus nature; pipe down, man versus self. Tonight, I solved toddler versus toothbrush.

Tonight, I watched Chicken kick off his nightly citizen activist performance art piece entitled "There is no fucking way you are brushing my teeth."

In Act I, he focuses on externalizing the internal conflict between freedom and duty, as well as the complex hierarchical construct of parent-child and dentist-patient power dynamics. (He slaps his hands over his mouth and shakes his head no, like, really hard.)

Act II kicks off with a rousing call to action, as he determinedly casts off the shackles of expectation and audaciously raises his voice to give form to the question on the lips of every man, woman, and child whose soul cries out for answers to this, most eternal question. You can try to answer him all you want, but as he will show you, there is no answer to a question that is its own answered question. #swamitoddler. (He dives under his covers and kicks violently if you touch him, and the only words he will say, muffled as they are from beneath his hands, are, "but why?")

In Act III things go dark, as the armies of compliance, obedience, and emptiness finally overpower the lone voice calling for the freedom for unique expressions of dental hygiene. Forced into the physical act of submission, our hero returns to the primordial swamp from whence all creatures first crawled, and while his body may be humbled, his mind and soul stand proudly in an act of defiance that is both valiant and honorable. The seeds of rebellion have been scattered atop the fecund earth of progress! (We pin him down to try to brush his teeth. He spits all over. And I mean all. Over. He makes it rain.

Okay, so, that saga, every night.

Except tonight. Tonight when Act I began and the child really committed to his role in the "Not All Cavities Need Filling" movement, I said NO.

Tonight I said, "wait right here, babe. We're going to do this a little differently."

I went into the kitchen and got paper and a pen. In the tradition of all great thinkers, I knew that one must begin at the beginning, and at the beginning there is paper. And a pen. And a great thinker.

I returned to the bedroom, sat in the oversized chair, and patted my lap.

"Why do you have papers, Mommy?" He trotted over and climbed into my lap, as alert as a puppy at this change of plans.

"I'm going to tell you a little story about why Daddy and I work so hard to make sure your teeth are clean."

"And are you going to draw pictures, too?"

"Of course I am!"

And when you look upon them you will weep, and you will turn your eyes to heaven and say "how, Lord? How is it possible that such profound truth lives here, tonight?" 

And the Lord will say, "because your mother is the Jesus of Mothers. Here in heaven we actually all talk about her as if she was Jesus. If someone stubs their toe they're like KATIE CHRIST that smarts! And then someone usually tsks and says "don't take Katie's name in vain," and then we light our Katie candles and sing "What a Friend We Have in Katie."

"Yay!" He sighed the word out, and it felt like I'd cracked the case. His expression of relief was a clue that I was on the right path. I'm so good at momming you guys.

"This is Chicken." I drew a large oval, two big eyes, a straight fringe of bangs across his forehead, two quick squiggles of ears, another for a nose, and then an enormous gaping semi-circle for his mouth."

"Chicken loves pie." I drew pie. Chicken giggled. "When Chicken eats pie, what does he say?"

"Yum!" Chicken cried out, pumping a fist in the air. This is so working. I am awesome. #creativeproblemsolving #iamthebest #sorrynotsorry #learnfromthis #learnfromme #jesusofmoms





"Look at Chicken's beautiful, strong teeth! Hmm... they look like they have some sugar on them from the sweet pie. Sugar makes teeth have holes in them, which is why Chicken always brushes his teeth after he eats sweets." I drew a toothbrush.

Chicken was beaming, tracing the wedge of pie with his finger. I was smiling. Not smugly. Just like a person who is fucking nailing it and is aware of that fact in the moment of the nailing. Not smug though. Just like, "SEE? SEE, RYAN?" But not in a smug way.

Ryan sat in the chair next to me, probably weeping at the glory of my parenting but I didn't want to like check in with him because I wanted him to weep at how focused I was on engaging with Chicken.

I paused. Timing was key.

"Uh oh..." I said, sweeping out a fresh piece of paper from the stack and laying it on top of the happiest picture in the world.

"Here is Chicken again... See? Here's his head... eyes... nose... ears... hair... and here's his mouth again... except..."

I paused again. THE WORLD HELD ITS BREATH. When I spoke again, it was barely a whisper.




"... OH NO this time he hasn't been brushing his teeth. And oh, look what haaaaaaappened!"






I wouldn't be surprised if our neighbors called 911.

That was the quality of the screaming when I drew those shattered, broken stalactite teeth in the picture of my son that I was drawing FOR MY SON.

AT BEDTIME.

YEAH you guys, I've been totally joking this whole blog post. It was all a joke! All of it! All the "look how awesome I am" and "#jesusofmoms" stuff? THOSE ARE HILARIOUS JOKES because I am a demented maniac who should not be allowed to speak to my children without first getting signed approval from a court-appointed social worker.

Remember the time I was like "Hmmm. What would be a creative and engaging way to show him that brushing your teeth is important," and I really swung for the fences?

Remember that time I was like, do you have your choo-choo jam jams on? Do you have your tigey-slippies on so your widdle toes stay toasty-woasty?

Oh good, now look at this picture I just drew of a spine-chilling monster with a mouth full of tooth shards! Oh, and did I mention that THIS IS A PICTURE OF YOU?

Okay, good night sweetheart! Sweet dreams! (Turns off lights and leaves the room. The door clicks shut in the dark.)



"NO MOMMY! PLEASE! DON'T DRAW THE CRUMBLY TEETH! I DON'T WANT THE CRUMBLYS!" He covered his eyes and curled into a ball. "I'll brush them, Mommy! I'll brush my teeth forever! Please don't ever draw me like that again!"

CAN WE GET A SLOW CLAP GOING FOR KATIE, FOLKS!


His terror isn't actually the worst part of this story.

The worst part is that I was pretty pleased at how tooth brushing went, actually.

Pretty smooth, when all was said and drawn.

Beep beep.

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