Sunday, July 22, 2007

In Which the battle is finally over

For months now, I have been fighting a daily battle with my toddler. Of course, this is nothing new to those of you who have toddlers, there is always a small battle on the very-near horizon.

My Mommy Goal: To get her teeth brushed without either one of us becoming hurt.

Her Toddler Goal: To push, pull, wrench, flinch, scream, and fight my every move as loudly as she can until someone comes to her rescue, because after all, she is being tortured.

It begins after her bathtime with quiet warning, a prelude if you will, at what is forthcoming. All the parenting mags say to do it this way. I must admit that although I thought I was rather past the frantic readings of parenting magazines in search of advice for daily kid issues, I sought them out once again to tackle this growing problem.

SO, apparently offering a preamble to the child as to what you are about to do to, with, or for her achieves a better cooperation level. Makes sense enough. (Here I must interject a certain parenting view of mine-I am kind of old-school in which I feel that children should do what they are asked to do without having an opportunity to explain to me how it makes them feel, or really if they understand why they have to do it--too much room for movement and manipulation of said parent)

Back to this preamble idea. Well, maybe it could work. In certain situations. With certain other children. Not for Little Miss Headstrong. In fact, it simply made the misery begin earlier because she understands exactly what is coming her way and she can't even enjoy the rest of her beloved bath. BAM. Backfire on that oh so reliable parenting advice yet again.

Let me offer some background info on this little situation I have here with my young one. I am a freak about making sure my kids brush their teeth. Freakish, I tell you.I think that parents who neglect their children's teeth , well that is unforgivable and one of my largest irritations. There is no excuse for not taking a few little minutes out of the busy day to help them learn that simple self-help skill and do it for them until they can handle it on their own. So through the years, at the first signs of gum-invaders, I have always begun by letting my babies chew on the toothbrush, then slowly working my way into brushing their teeth for them. No problem. Until Her Majesty grew her first pearly white. She screams. She fights. I soothe. I am firm. I don't back down. Neither does she. Teeth will be brushed. So, for a year now, we have been through countless different ways to brush her teeth that should/could result in empowerment for her and peace of mind for me. And, of course, clean teeth.

So, last week, at a loss and worried about the health of her teeth,I made her first dental appointment. I forewarned them of what they would encounter. They stood up to the challenge. We arranged the appointment at the perfect time of day so as to offset any meltdowns that could occur from being tired or hungry.Off we went to THE BIG APPOINTMENT.

Oh, and there was no preamble folks.

At first, as we walked back, Serenity was fine--even appeared excited, which was odd because normally she is a bit apprehensive of new people and situations. Our nurse was very kind, too chipper, and very colorful--the perfect dental assistant. We sat for a moment as she offered the
prologue to the opening chapter of Serenity's childhood dental visits book. She explained what she was going to do, which was the customary 'clean and count' routine that is done for little patients on their first time in the vinyl recliner. My response was simply a warning. Assistant smiled a big, silly too-happy grin. I chose to smile on the inside. I sat down in the chair beside the recliner and handed my baby/demonic toddler to them.
DO you know what that little girl did? I wanted to shake her and hug her at the same time. She offered a little whimper, a small cry, but then let them poke around and pull and brush. Using their tools and WITH the loud, whirring brush. Here inlies the key, people. THE TOOTHBRUSH. Quick as a wink. Over like that.

Happy little toddler. Dumbfounded Mommy.

You see, I had never thought to buy the little electric toothbrush for my timid baby who hates the noise of the vacuum, the fan, the hairdryer.

We left the parallel world that is the children's dentist office and went directly to Target. Came home with a balloon, stickers, toothpaste, a magnet (from dental adventure), and from Target a brand new Spin Brush.

NO problems since.



Magpie said...

Huh. My kid isn't too bad about the brushing, but 1) HATED HATED the dentist and 2) won't have any part of toothpaste, though I've tried every single brand there is.

Joy, of course said...

Sometimes it just takes something different, (or someone different) to break the cycle of the fears and the battles. I am thrilled that the answer was a simple as a spinbrush. Hurray!

Christine said...

i seriously need one of those! my son fights and fights, and i just don't feel like they are really clean enough. reminds me i have to make a dentist appointment for my girl. . .

painted maypole said...

spinbrush? my daughter is terrified of hers, it's too loud! We just use it as a regular toothbrush. Too funny.

Beck said...

Brushing toddler teeth is a two-person job, in my opinion. Of course, we just bribe our toddler by buying her new toothbrushes all the time...

slouching mom said...


Yes, she's a toddler, all right. ;)

JennyK said...

Have the spinbrush for our daughter (nearly 4) but never thought about getting one for our son (just 2) -- maybe that will end our nightly toothbrush smackdowns, too. Thanks for the idea!