Master Six was getting ready for school. “Brush your teeth! Use toothpaste!” his dad called out to him.
“I don’t want to!” Master Six wailed. Then he wandered into my bedroom, sobbing. “Dad is being so mean to me!”
“How is telling you to brush your teeth with toothpaste mean?” I asked, inwardly rolling my eyes at a six-year-old’s definition of “mean”.
“Because my toothpaste is broken!” he cried, showing me the tube. Broken? Not so much. More like, “about to be animated into a living being, there’s so much toothpaste smeared and dribbling from the cap”. It was Frankentoothpaste. There wasn’t a single centimetre of that tube that wasn’t covered in minty-fresh blue goo. How in the heck do kids manage to squeeze so much toothpaste out and still miss the bristles on their toothbrushes 99% of the time?
And this is how I ended up spending 15 minutes cleaning stray toothpaste off of every tube in my house. Even the baby’s toothpaste was all crusted under the cap and blocking the opening. And she doesn’t even squeeze her own! (I suspect big kids gave up on their own ruined toothpastes and filched hers.)
I’m trying to teach my kids good oral health practices. I’m also trying to teach them to brush their own teeth, because they’re the ones ultimately responsible for their pearly whites. We visit the dental nurse once a year and we practise brushing on the giant plastic teeth with the giant toothbrush, an activity that makes everyone giggle and gives me a momentary longing for my own giant set of plastic teeth to play with at home. (Seriously, where can you buy those teeth? I might need some for, you know, educational purposes.)
But no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to teach them to squeeze out the right amount of toothpaste. We must waste at least a tube every fortnight. I suppose I should be glad they’re brushing, but still. What’s a mum to do?
Google, apparently. There is such a thing as an automatic toothpaste dispenser, and it looks promising. Now all I have to do is decide whether to get one that looks like a tiger, a cowboy, or a cow. And get over the fact that the toothpaste is dispensed from their plastic mouth, which is kind of gross, but less gross than if it was dispensed from their bottom. Yes, these are the things I consider when buying gadgets. I try to minimise the potential for toilet jokes at every opportunity.
Before Master Six left for school that day, with teeth freshly brushed and clean toothpaste tube replaced on his sink, he gave me a hug. “Mmm, your hands smell all minty,” he said.
If all else fails, I guess at least I’ll always have minty-fresh hands.