The Brush of Death.

I’ve made many humiliating parental admissions on this blog.

You guys know that I only bathe my children twice a week.

You are aware that I never make their beds.

You have been apprised of my issues with Sippy Cups and Mold.

So you probably won’t be shocked that I’m not the best teeth-brushing mother, either.

(And although I’ve tried to be a flossing mother, it’s really a ridiculous undertaking since the gaps between their teeth are so large that it’s like rubbing a piece of yarn between two houses an acre apart and expecting to pick up some paint chips.)

But back to brushing.

Ali is responsible for her own teeth, and she does a decent job, although she must be reminded two times a day because heaven forbid a kid actually realize that they are responsible for the same things every single day.

I mean really. There’s just no logic to expecting her to know that she is required to brush her teeth today just because she was required to do so yesterday. And last week on this day. And last month on this day. And last year on this day.

Moving on.

Then there’s Noah.

I’ve been riding high on the fact that he’s gotten four good dentist reports, and have let this undeserved success fuel me in my lack of proper attention to his teeth.

(And I might also occasionally tell myself “Eh, they’re only baby teeth!”)

It’s not that I don’t try.

Really.

It’s just that he doesn’t appreciate my efforts and he’s a professional wiggler and whiner, so short of me buying a cast-off set of stocks from a medieval torture chamber estate sale or a second-hand straight jacket from a Mental Institution Going Out of Business Everything Must Go Sale, I’m not going to be able to force him to let me properly clean his teeth.

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So I do my best at night before he starts screaming and thrashing (because I’m supposedly hurting him but just wait till he feels how comfortable a straight jacket is), and sometimes I don’t even try in the mornings.

If I’m feeling really lazy, I’ll just ask Ali to brush his teeth while they’re in there together, and I don’t check up on them so I don’t have to feel guilty about her seven-year-old sub-par cleansing of her brother’s mouth garden.

Because I’m the best sort of Mommy.

Last Thursday night was one of those times.

I had taken the kids out of town by myself (more on that adventure later), and by nightfall I was exhausted. We’d skipped nap, we’d had adventure and intrigue, we’d walked and shopped and explored, I’d never had a second of alone time to regroup, and they’d asked a combined total of 1,238 questions.

There was no hope of having the patience for a screaming teeth-brushing fest in my immediate future.

So I sent Ali and Noah to the tiny hotel bathroom and instructed Ali to brush her teeth, then Noah’s.

The difference, however, was that I could see the children from my reclining comatose position on my hotel bed.

And what I saw changed the world…forever.

I did not see a screaming, whining, thrashing toddler.

Nor did I see a seven-year-old make a cursory toothbrush swipe across her brother’s face to be able to say she obeyed me.

I saw this.

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A toddler willingly opening his mouth for his sister.

When she told him to.

Wider than he has ever opened his mouth for me.

Then, this.

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My son accepting a thorough brushing of his teeth – with a smile.

A SMILE!! And even a giggle or two.

Then, THIS:

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She said “Say eeee!” And he actually said eeee.

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Every single night I tell that same kid to say eeee and he acts like he has no freaking idea what I’m talking about. Never, has he ever, put his teeth together and opened his lips to allow me to brush his teeth like a real human being!

I had chalked it up to him being three and not a bright firstborn and simply not understanding my commands. Now, I see that he is certainly bright. And extraordinarily talented at hiding his brightness.

And that his mouth can indeed open happily when a toothbrush is nearby.

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And that his Magical Sister will forevermore have the responsibility of brushing his teeth.

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The game is up, son. The game is up.

The Cost of Extroversion.

140604 Downtown Inside Out

“Hey…did you know The Redmont Hotel is still open? I mean, who knew, right?”

I groggily recounted this extraordinarily urgent information to Chris at 6:15am Saturday morning. I had not slept all night, and was entrapped in a heavy delirium that later made it impossible to walk in a straight line.

“I mean, I figured that place had been closed for years. Decades even. You never hear anyone say they stayed there! I mean, have you? But Jamie and I Googled it at lunch a couple of weeks ago and it’s still open!! Isn’t that fascinating?”

“Okay…”

“We should really go there sometime. I mean, we should know what it’s like, right? It’s like…a historical marker or something.”

“Umm….What all did you take to try and help you sleep? And at what time?”

I recounted the list of things I took, all within legal and somewhat recommended limits.

“Are you going to be okay today?”

“I hope so! I should get up and run since I can’t sleep!”

This took place between Friday’s Artwalk and Saturday’s Artwalk.

As Chris was leaving for the football game, I tried to set his mind at ease.

“I think I figured it out around 3am. There’s this part of my brain – like a real, physical lobe or something – that I have to use to talk to lots of people. But if it gets activated, it can’t shut down. Like…ever. Or at least for a lot of hours.”

“Please be careful today.”

Despite my lack of mental clarity at the time, I actually think I was right.

I’m an introvert. I recharge by being alone. I like people, but prefer them in small doses. Just like four ibuprofen is the outer limit of how many one should take at once, four people is the outer limit of the number of humans I can relate with at once.

However, when I need to, I can Transformer-Style morph into an extrovert. If I find myself in an extended situation of extreme extroversion, as I was at ArtWalk where I talked to hundreds of people for six hours straight two days in a row, my brain is able to compensate and allow me to become a temporary extrovert.

However. Once that switch is flipped, I become immediately and intensely aware that I can forget about sleeping. Because my brain will refuse to shut off, no matter how many magically delicious melatonin gummies I chew.

It’s not even that I’m thinking – it’s almost as if I can feel my entire brain buzzing. It plays songs on repeat. It has imaginary conversations that make no sense. It will play iPhone games – all in my head. I cannot escape from my brain, and it holds me hostage with no excuse.

The ability to switch back and forth, according to the aforementioned friend Jamie (who is an Extrovertedness Evangelist), is called being an Ambivert. An Ambivert is someone who has both an introvert and an extrovert side, like having a multiple personality disorder without the loss of memory.

And apparently Extrovert Me is an acute insomniac.

I believe this is because I don’t let her wake up very often, and so when I do tiptoe up to her bedroom door and knock softly, asking her to come out and take over for a while so that Introvert Me doesn’t curl up in the fetal position at the thought of talking to hundreds of strangers, she is like “HECK YEAAAASSSS!!! Do you KNOW how long I’ve been locked in this room? It’s been like two years!! PAAAAAAARTYYYYYY!!!”

(For those of you properly educated in the subject of My Little Pony, imagine Pinkie Pie after having found herself locked in a dungeon for twenty-four months. Now picture her delighted, screaming face pointed at the sky. That’s Extrovert Me.)

And then it takes ten bouncers in my head to shove her back into her cell and lock the door.

BUT.

There’s only one thing worse than not sleeping because of Extrovert Me bouncing off the sides of my brain.

It’s if Introvert Me returns too quickly.

Because then she keeps me up all night also…but in complete and utter horror…recounting every conversation Extrovert Me had with every single person I saw, conjuring up ways that I probably offended half of them, confused half of them, and looked like an idiot to all of them.

Because that’s what introverts do.

Partying all night like an extrovert is always preferred.

So. How does your brain work?


Editor’s Note: That very Saturday, Jamie came to see me at Artwalk and said, “By the way – did you hear that The Redmont closed?” My efforts to confirm this rumor have been unsolidified, but seem to point in that direction. So I sure am relieved that I was able to convey that timely information to Chris at 6:15 that morning.
Updated: The Redmont is undergoing a renovation and will be reopened as a Hay Creek Hotel. Thanks to Katherine for the tip.

A Public Service Announcement, for Parents.

I have been up front and honest with you many times about all of the things I forget to do, put off doing, or downright neglect when it comes to my role as a mother.

I’m not the most thorough, organized, on-top-of-it person out there, and my parenting is no exception. It often looks as messy as my office closet, and I hope that one day my children can forgive me for my grievous sins against them. By my practice of exposing of my shortcomings here, I also hope that perhaps I can help one of you remember something you might need to take care of.

Which is what brings us to today’s PSA. Quite accidentally, I discovered a giant, moon-sized hole in my parenting.

One of my children – I won’t say which to protect their identity (let’s pretend I have twelve children for the day) – has had a problem for quite some time. A rather embarrassing problem – one that Chris and I couldn’t seem to get this child to stop doing.

There was an issue of constant fidgeting and picking at a certain item of underclothing.

After weeks of reminding – nay even nagging this child to please refrain from this activity, said child looked me in the eye with a kernel of wisdom beyond their years and said, “I think it’s because they feel so tight all the time. Could they all be too small for me?”

My eyes widened, stunned by the logic and insight pouring from such a tiny mouth.

I had never bought this child any new underwear. Since this child was potty-trained many years ago, they had been slowly growing out of their provided underclothes, just as a tree root slowly grows through a sidewalk.

This. THIS is the kind of sub-par crappy parenting that I bring to the table.

Guilt agitated my soul like a washing machine set on stain-removal. And I immediately set out to Target to correct my grievous sins.

But which underwear should I buy? I hadn’t bought any children’s underwear in this particular gender in many years. Which were most comfortable? Which would provide greatest ease in wear? Which would abolish wedgies?

So I bought them all.

Because a guilty conscience carries a big checkbook.

A guilty conscience also needs a safe place to seek reassurance, so I texted my friend Katherine and confessed my Sins of Motherhood. Her response was triple antibiotic on my wounded soul.

Oh that? Yes. It only cost us four separate co-pays and a visit to Children’s Hospital South for a GI scan to rule out colon cancer. Sorry – I thought ALL families did that before they bought their children new underwear.

Everyone needs a friend like Katherine.

I pursued her on this issue of negligence. Upon which of your four children did you commit this omission?

[Kid X] got the four visits and GI scan, but we also made a doctor’s visit for [Kid Y] as well.

If Katherine can make this mistake twice, then I can make it once. Right?

I came home from Target with a fresh spring in my step and presented my wise, neglected child with an armload of underthings and explained that if said child would track the efficacy of the different types, I would make sure to buy more in the best variation of underthings to properly ensure that comfort could finally be had – something denied to that child for far too long.

I then explained the meaning and importance of the concept of Unbiased Scientific Analysis. Because the thing was, some of the items of clothing in question had favorite cartoon characters on them – but this fact should not afford them a greater review than a pair that was, say, a solid color. Scientists must not be driven by the wind. Or by Elsa, Queen of the Wind.

The child looked at me with those same serious, wide eyes, agreeing to the importance of the task at hand.

“But how will I remember which were best? How will I keep up with such important information?”

“Don’t worry, dear child. I will make you a chart.”

And I did.

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Again showing my egregious negligence, I did not take time to find a ruler for a straightline, nor even did I simply draw slowly enough to have consistent lines. But I am what I am. And thankfully, the child was pleased with the chart and excited to get to work on the research project.

(Although the child was a bit critical of the fact that some of my questions were rather redundant.)

The child filled out the chart with the care of a Ph.D. candidate, even caring enough to count the number of wedgies created by each variety in a 24 hour time period.

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I wish the first line wasn’t filled out in pencil so that you could see the reasoning behind the sad rating of 1 – “I got up in the middle of the night to change” – yes, they were that bad. But this vital piece of data is why it was worthy of its own chart.

But most importantly, all embarrassing habits ceased immediately upon the reception of these gifts.

Dearest friends, this is your wake-up call. Buy your children new underwear once in a while.