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.


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.


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.


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.


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

A SMILE!! And even a giggle or two.

Then, THIS:


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


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.


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


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

The Kicking.

Ali and I had downtown lunch plans, so after dropping Noah off at preschool, we decided that the big downtown Birmingham Public Library would be a great place to get a little of her schoolwork done.

I have fond memories of the vast expanse that is the downtown library, so I love taking my kids down there to be amazed at the sky-high ceilings, billions of books, and the same gruesomely chewed-up toddler shoe display that has been by the elevator since I was a kid.

(I think it’s to discourage having your shoes untied when going up the elevator? But that can’t be right because I specifically remember seeing a new pair added to the glass box this time, and they were Crocs. So maybe it’s just to give a reminder to be solemn when using the elevator.)

We rode the Killer Elevator up to the second floor to the Children’s Section, and as it was 10am on a Tuesday, we had the entire floor to ourselves, except for Norbert, with whom Ali quickly made friends.



We were enjoying the solitude and attempting to focus on Math (but Norbert kept asking Ali to play). It’s hard to focus when you’re in second grade, even if there’s no one else around. But we did our best.



Another homeschool family topped the escalator – a mom and three kids. The entire floor of the library had been silent and empty, and there were chairs and tables available in every direction, including ones that we could neither see nor hear.


They came and sat at the table six inches from ours.



If there’s a Urinal Rule for men, then there should be a Library Rule for homeschool families. Leaving two empty tables in between is only humane.

They settled in and all three kids immediately started kicking the chair legs and table legs with inharmonious rhythms. Loud, echoing kicking. The Mom gave them their school books then disappeared for a few minutes of solace in the ladies room.

Kick. Kick. Kickkickkick. Whine. Argue. Kickkickkick.

I had no idea how irritable of a person I was until this family entered my life.

Kick. Kickkickkick. Shuffle papers. Drop books. Kickkick.

The Mom returned, and I silently thanked my lucky library. Surely she would put an end to the kicking. Surely she would make them shut up and do their schoolwork. Surely she would realize how distracted my little student was and how we were here first and how my brain was about to explode. And then surely they would move to another table. Or maybe even another floor. Or perhaps another library.

But no.

She proceeded to orally give the children spelling tests.

And I proceeded to wish desperately that the Birmingham Public Library employed a librarian related to the one in Monsters University.

Kick. kickkick. “SPELL AROUND.” kickkickkick A!-R! kick A! kickkick W!-N! kick D!

Call me a Nazi but chair-kicking is not allowed in my homeschool.

My pulse topped out at 968 and I finally had to call it. I told Ali we were done two subjects early and sent her off to find three dozen fairy books to check out while I found an empty aisle to practice breathing exercises and prevent stroke. Then we left poor Norbert on his own to be tortured by their kicking and gruesome misspellings.

And next time, we’ll take the table in the back corner behind the microfiche.

Off to the Races.

“Hey Eli, would you like for me to tell you where to stick it?”

These are the jewels that you hear when you travel with a three-year-old and a six-year-old boy.

(No, Noah had no idea what he was saying. Yes, he said it in the kindest, sweetest little boy voice ever. Yes, I laughed heartily.)

So. Boys.

If you take them to a Mexican restaurant, there will likely be double dipping.


If you let them loose in a double hotel room with a balloon, it will assuredly feel like you’re trapped in a two-foot box with 563 espresso-hyped hamsters.


But then, if their granddad shows up, they will miraculously become still, tiny little angels.


My sister-in-law Lindsay and I ditched our three daughters and took our two sons to the races in Atlanta. My Dad is a Tech Inspector (i.e. he takes the cars apart before and after the race to check for cheaters) for a series of races formerly known as American Le Mans but recently purchased by NASCAR and given the unfortunate name of Tudor. Unfortunate when two small boys are involved, anyway.



But regardless of unfortunate naming choices, our sons experienced ecstasy that day.

They got to walk through Pit Row with my Dad,


Where racing teams told them secrets,


Taught them how to cut zip ties,


And in general enthusiastically entertained our children.


There were cars to BEND OVER and look into (you really don’t realize how small race cars are until you see them next to a three and six year old),


Lifts to ride up and down,


Selfies to photo-bomb,


Other people’s selfies to watch happen,


And drivers to avoid.


Dad yanked this driver(?) out and said “stand here with my grandsons.”

Driver(?): “But I’m not important!”

Dad: “I know that, but they don’t know that!”


Poor driver(?). I think he’s important, too.

Noah remembered from last year where our team allegiances lie, though. He even remembered how to copy my sing-song fan-girl voice really well, going super high at the end of, “We’re going to go see Patrick Dempseeeeey!!!”


But, alas. Another year, another lack of Dempsey in our lives. He was there somewhere, though. Just not there with us.

Meanwhile, back at home, Chris was convincing Ali to go running with him on the coldest day of the year so far,

Ali Running

And my brother JC was attempting to figure out how to manage curly hair.


We had the better end of the deal.

We found a place by the fence to sit for a while,


Which really ended up in us doing everything we could to contain our sons.


And get their eyes to rest on the racetrack for at least two seconds together.


Thankfully, there was a bounce-house at which we ended our day.

Which, by the way, my experience at the bounce-house was a highly improved activity with earplugs.


Correction: ALL of life with boys is highly improved with earplugs.