My kids are generally quite honest. This is good because they are incredibly inept at lying.
A prime example comes in the form of my son when it comes to brushing his teeth. Or rather, not brushing them.
If he has cleaned his crooked off-whites, it’s all sweetness and chubby angelic cheeks and here, Daddio — have a whiff of my minty Colgate breath.
If he hasn’t, he’ll lie right to your face, providing your face is floating somewhere up near the ceiling because that is where his eyes roll up toward when he lets the bull fly.
“Let me smell your breath,” I’ll ask.
“Maahh! You don’t believe me! Waaaaaaah!”
“If you brushed, then let me get a snootful of that fluoridey freshness.”
“Meanie!” he said.
“Dude, I felt the toothbrush and it’s not wet. It’s been three days since the bathroom was cleaned, yet the sink contains not a single glob of blue goo. And I marked the level of the anti-cavity rinse in the bottle with a Sharpie this morning and — boo-yah — it’s unchanged.”
“You HATE me!”
For a kid who has had four cavities fixed by age 7, he’s unusually stubborn about this. He’s also unusually oblivious.
A lesson on lying
This is not the first time I’ve laid out how I compile all the evidence against him when he tries to fib his way out of brushing. Why doesn’t he learn from these calling-outs about his lying? Seriously, he could just run the toothbrush under the water, put a dab of toothpaste on his tongue and a mess more in the sink, and then dump a little mouth rinse out?
I think it’s because deep down, he’s morally good and grounded. He’s also somewhat lazy.
What’s a dad to do with a lad who refuses to practice good oral hygiene even though said lad maintains a diet based on all the major members of the -ose family: glucose, fructose, dextrose, etc.?
I’ve tried reward charts, punishments, electric toothbrushes, musical toothbrushes, toothbrushes shaped like fire trucks, toothpaste featuring cartoon characters, toothpaste endorsed by TV stars — you know, everything a good American would try except standing there and actually watching him brush because that would make me a helicopter parent and kids needs to learn responsibility. Also, I’m somewhat lazy.
After one recent argument with him over his failure to brush and greater failure to lie convincingly, I rhetorically asked:
“What do I have to do to get you to brush your teeth?”
Since rhetoric, like penmanship, is not part of the school curriculum in our town, he had an answer.
“Drop your pants,” he said.
So I did.
I did as graceful a “half monty” as a desperate dad could muster. Thankfully, I had put on a pair of relatively new pair of boxer briefs that day and the elastic held tight to my waist.
And no sooner did the pants hit the floor did the boy scurry up the stairs, twist on the tap and begin to brush.
Maybe I’m on to something here?
Next, I will attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
For that, though, I may need a wax job.
A version of this previously appeared on Always Home and Uncool.