My Least Favorite Parenting Chore

Like every parent, I’ve dealt with a plethora of parenting challenges.

I’ve changed diapers which contain the smell of a large landfill.

I’ve been awakened hundreds of times from a peaceful sleep.

I’ve had all regions of my body stomped on, stepped on and punched.

But the one parenting chore that I truly despise above all others is this:

Brushing my kids’ teeth.

Being forced to stand at the sink with 2 recalcitrant and uncooperative children, ages 7 and 5,  is too much for my reserve of patience to handle.

Let me paint the picture for you:

ME: “Boys, it’s time to brush your teeth.”

THEM: (ignoring me)

ME: “Come on. We have to brush your teeth.”

THEM: (ignoring me)

ME: “Let’s go. We have to brush your teeth!”

THEM: (ignoring me)

ME: “Ok. We’re not going to have any (FILL IN THE BLANK OF THE ACTIVITY/FOOD/JUICE THEY LOVE) today unless you brush your teeth!”


Any parenting activity that begins with a threat is destined to be a pain in the you-know-what. And that is what it’s like EVERY SINGLE TIME we have to brush their teeth. Honestly.

Then, once situated at the sink, it really gets ugly.

ME, TO 7: “Ok, buddy. Stand still, ok?”

7: (Flails around, grabbing anything he can to play with)

ME: “Pal, seriously. Stand still. You’re going to get hurt.”

7: (Starts to tell me a story about his favorite new book) “Dad, in this book…”

ME: “Pal, please don’t talk but let me brush your teeth. Tell me when we’re done.”

And on and on and on and on it goes. The reason I still brush 7’s teeth is that he has teeth like mine — prone to cavities. In fact, by age 7 he had 7 cavities filled. 7! That’s not good for him and it’s not good for my bank account. The dentist recommended that we brush his teeth and so, like good parents, we are. In fact, whenever we suggest that he brush his own teeth, he reminds us of the dentist’s advice. Smart kid.

5 is another battle altogether. He owns the strongest Tongue Protector I’ve ever seen. Getting the toothbrush into his mouth requires a persistent battle vs. his tongue, which he deploys to protect his mouth and defray our ability to reach his back teeth or the insides of his upper and lower teeth. It’s like a bulletproof vest for his mouth, repelling and preventing any intrusion into an area of his mouth that he deems off-limits to our cleaning effort.

It’s gotten to the point where I have to hold his tongue down with my fingers to access his mouth, and, if the toothbrush touches beyond the 3rd of 4th tooth on either side, he goes into full heaving mode, acting like he’s going to throw up. Geez. What a stinker.

Add to all of this our desire to brush for a solid two minutes for each of them and we’re looking at a punishing chore that usually ends with me shouting at them for their inability to focus or to allow me to brush their teeth. It usually ends with their screaming or crying about how much I’m hurting/bothering them.

It is not a fun time.

But it’s something that must be done and I’ve got to improve my well of patience to deal with it because, apparently, the price of pretty teeth is a frustrated parent.

(Photo credit: <a href=””></a>)


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About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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