I can teach my son how to brush his teeth, but I can’t make him want to do it. We’re supposed to be at Tae Kwon Do right now. After taking the summer off, he was excited to go back today. But we’re not there. Things were going well. Second day of school, homework done, snack eaten, uniform put on, gear bag packed. I caught a whiff of his breath and asked him to go brush his teeth. He went up three flights and I swear he came right back down without even going into the bathroom. I smelled his breath and sent him up again. This time he was gone long enough to brush, floss, and do a puzzle. I smelled his breath, hoping for the best.
Same. Damn. Thing.
It was now fifteen minutes past when we were supposed to leave. There was pretty much zero chance that we would get there on time. I told him to go up again and he flat-out refused – he complained that he had already done it twice, didn’t want to go up the stairs again, and that he hated me. I told him that he had two choices: go brush his teeth again, or go to bed. He stomped past me and went upstairs. And when he came down? You guessed it.
I’m not sure which part of all this made me the most furious: the fact that he thinks I was born yesterday and am too stupid to know if he’s brushed his teeth or not, or the fact that he doesn’t care if he goes out into the world with horrible breath. Either way, I didn’t think I’d still be dealing with this kind of stuff by the time he was eight. I have a hard time remembering when I started caring about stuff, when I started doing things on my own without someone making me. Am I expecting too much out of him? His sister is five and doesn’t like going out of the house with a hair out of place most days, so she’s messing up my frame of reference. Is she the exception, or is he?
I can’t make him care, so I have to care for him. I’m going to have to be on him like he’s a toddler just learning. It’s a messed-up mentality that thinks that it’s better to walk up and down three flights of stairs three times and make us late than to just brush the damn teeth. But of course, it’s not about the teeth, it’s never about the thing, it’s about the control. He wants to have control of his own body, but I feel like I’m not doing my job if I let him out of the house with stinky breath.
So, I told him no Tae Kwon Do. By that point we were going to be late anyway, like really late. I told him to go upstairs a fourth time, brush his teeth, and put on his pajamas. I’m making dinner now, and when he’s done eating he’s going to bed. I don’t mess around.
Where does it end? At what point do I just have to let him take control and live with the consequences? What if he never cares?
He’s been so wonderful in so many other ways lately, this is really throwing me for a loop. I don’t want to be too hard on him, but I don’t want to put up with this shit either. The whole thing is ridiculous.