Go brush your teeth!

December 8, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Have you ever had your children ask so many questions it caused you to wonder if they would ever stop?

Sometimes, a parent wishes they could put a limit on those endless questions. I say five per day sounds fair, but, of course, we can’t limit their quest for knowledge . . . or can we?

It begins around three years old, when those little ones start asking all the “why” questions. It starts with a question such as, “Why is the sky blue?” but no matter what answer you give, they keep asking, “Why?” over and over.

When my three-year-old nephew, Isaiah, asked why I was a girl, I told him because that’s how God made me. He, however, seemed to think what made me a girl was having long hair.

This made total and complete sense in his preschool world. He has short hair; therefore, he is a boy. I have long hair; therefore, I am a girl. Wow, will he be confused when he meets someone who doesn’t fit into his hair theory. Then I’m sure he will be asking, “Why?”

I remember when my children were young. There were times, out of frustration or lack of sleep, when I would simply answer, “Oh, because, that’s why.”

Fortunately, none of my children ever answered questions in school with, “Because mommy said so, that’s why.”

As our kids grow, they can come up with some pretty complicated questions. Thank goodness for the Internet and easy access to the answer to any question they can think of.

But, there are still some questions that can be difficult to answer. Sure, if you have time to rehearse what to say, it isn’t too tough, but most of the time, you don’t usually know when your kids are going to throw one at you.

The other day, my youngest caught me completely off guard. I won’t say exactly what her questions were, to avoid some embarrassment, but let’s just say they were quite personal.

I suppose talking about the birds and the bees or puberty to an eight-year-old isn’t too young, but I sure wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to scream, “You are my baby, you can’t grow up. I won’t let you!”

But realizing I couldn’t just ignore her questions, we had a little mother- daughter heart-to-heart. However, no matter what question I answered, another one immediately followed. I must say I felt a bit trapped.

Yes, I should have been ready for this conversation, but it seems like just yesterday she was toddling around, finally potty trained, and asking me why the sky was blue.

Trying to buy some time, out of nowhere, I told her, “It’s time to brush your teeth.” It was the first thing I could think of to get away from these questions. (Of course, I had every intention of revisiting the topic – when I was more prepared.)

It sounds like a silly way to avoid a confrontation, but it actually worked. My daughter has one of the toothbrushes that plays music.

While she makes sure to brush each and every tooth, one of those Hannah Montana songs that is highly overplayed on the Disney Channel echoes through the bathroom.

Initially buying this toothbrush was to encourage my little girl to brush longer, but I have found a new advantage.

As she brushed her teeth, she danced along to the catchy pop song, and completely forgot about our little talk or her remaining questions.

All I could think was, “Sweet! Now I have more time to put together this girly discussion!” Honestly, at that moment, I was grateful for the musical toothbrush, and for my third grader’s short attention span.

So, the next time your children have you backed in a corner shooting questions at you left and right, or maybe you just want them to stop talking for a few minutes, and you have given up on ever being voted Mother of the Year (like I have), just do what I did and say, “Go brush your teeth!”