The silliest fight…

227 days of not yelling, 138 days of loving more to go!

Dear Self,

You let the silliest things both you and tempt you to yell. Seriously, loosen up a bit, will ya?

The Orange Rhino


Every morning and every night I get agitated over the same thing: toothpaste on the bathroom counter and toothpaste spit all over the bathroom sink. But let me be clear, it isn’t just on the counter it is smeared all over and on good days, it is dripping of the sides of the “used” toothbrush so that the toothbrush leaves a nice mark wherever it sits. Oh, and the spit isn’t just in the sink, some of it has accidentally “sprayed” on the mirror. And the wall. Perhaps on the toilet seat too because wouldn’t it be fun to spit into the toilet? It looks like a sink you know. Yeah, once my kids have brushed their teeth unsupervised the bathroom smells minty fresh and looks freshly “decorated.” I. CAN’T. STAND. IT.

And every morning and every night it makes me want to yell at my older two sons.

And every morning and every night, and especially right now, I think to myself, really?? Really you are going to yell at your kids over toothpaste?

Yes, it is messy and sticky and one more thing to clean up.

Yes, it is frustrating that no matter how many times I remind them to wipe down the counter and rinse the sink when done, they still forget.

Yes, it is maddening that it seems they have no regard for being neat and tidy or respectful of my wishes to use proper “bathroom etiquette.”

Yes, it is annoying to have to make extra trips to CVS just to buy more toothpaste because of the constant waste (because no kid in my house every squeezes just a little toothpaste on the toothbrush.)

But no, the great toothpaste fight really isn’t worth yelling at my kids.

Because they are 6 and 4.5 and are still learning.

But more so, as I finally realized this morning as I wiped down the counter again for the umpteenth time, they are actually doing something RIGHT and I should focus on that behavior and applaud it instead of ridiculing the inconvenient behavior.

Without my having to ask, they are not only remembering to brush their teeth but also actually doing it! ON THEIR OWN! This is miraculous! Worthy of a celebration even! It took me months of reminding them to get to that point. Months! My older boys brushing their teeth on their own is so incredibly helpful; it is one less thing that I have to remember to ask them to do and let’s face it, I need all the help I can get!  And not only is it good for me, but it is good for them. Brushed teeth = less cavities, something my mouthful of cavities (and Novocaine from having a crown put in today) is really wishing I had remembered to do when I was a kid!

So as I grumbled under my breath this morning about the mess, I decided to let go of the great toothpaste fight. I decided to embrace the good behavior and stop harping on the bad. I decided to accept that it will take months for them to remember to clean up after themselves and that is okay. I decided to focus my energy on bigger problems, bigger annoyances.

I decided that it is really no big deal to have to take 5 seconds to wipe down the counter and 5 more seconds to gently remind the boys the etiquette of tooth brushing. Taking 10 seconds is a heck of a lot more convenient than locking up the toothpaste in my bathroom and having to go get it and then monitor their brushing while I have two tired younger brothers pulling at my leg for one more book. Taking 10 seconds to set an example and teach is a heck of a lot better for my kids than telling them “no, you can’t do this on your own because you make a mess.” Taking 10 seconds after they have already brushed their teeth, which is a huge accomplishment, is WAY better than spending hours in the dentist’s office in the next years if they didn’t brush their teeth because mommy was too swamped at bedtime to hound them to do it.

Yeah brushing their teeth on their own and making a mess is WAY better than the alternatives.

Besides, they will get it someday. It might be when they move in with a fiancee 20 or so years from now, and she has the same pet peeve, but they’ll get it. And until then, I’ll just keep on gently reminding them to clean up.

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3 thoughts on “The silliest fight…

  1. You are a braver mom than I am…I still put the toothpaste on myself and stand there singing a silly song that lasts about as long as I want my 6, 6, and 3 to brush, then I take my turn brushing, and yes, there is a toothpaste trail in the sink because they are not tall enough to aim for the drain! I keep reminding myself that this stage won’t last forever, and maybe some day they will sing the silly tooth brushing song to their little ones!

    • Brave is one word 🙂 My 1.5 year old found the blue toothpaste and decorated my beige rug. AWESOME. I might start locking it all up. Ha! I bet your kiddos will definitely sing the toothbrush song to their kids because it sounds like a really special moment they will remember!

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