Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Left hand behind his head working to keep it from bending backwards, right hand trying to brush his teeth for him. His arms swing to block me from approaching his mouth, I bat them back down. We’ve been doing this dance for a year now – ever since he got braces, and it is just that, a dance. He is the leader, and I follow in step. A dance that has no choreography and would be miserable to watch. 

We start off in one part of the bathroom and by the end of the teeth brushing session we have circled it several times, bumped into cupboards, backed into the toilet, and completely tangled the throw rugs.

“Why can’t you just brush your teeth like a normal person?” I say, instantly regretting it. It’s not the worst thing I’ve said to him in fourteen years, but it’s up there. I feel terrible. I feel like a bad parent. I feel incapable of going through this every single day until the braces come off, and there is no way on God’s green earth he can brush them himself.

“Just get a timer and have him brush for three minutes!” the perky, young, clueless orthodontic assistant says every time we’re there.

Three minutes of chewing all the toothpaste off and holding the brush in one spot, does not a clean mouth make, I long to tell her. Doing a bad job longer, does not turn it into a good job.  Instead I just smile and say, “Good idea.”

Truth be told I do not wish Rojo were “normal,” I love him the way he is and he is our normal. Normal isn’t a place I live or even want to live.

But I wouldn’t mind a visit now and then.




  1. we all have our moments, darlin, all of us. you have far less than most.
    and you and rojo? nothing 'normal' about either one of you. thank god.

  2. I'm in that bathroom with you. Grateful for your teaching and your wisdom.

  3. I had to laugh at this post -- and shed a few tears. I'm so there with you.

  4. Thank you for this post. I think it shows we, as parents, often go through the same types of situations, and none is perfect. We do our best. And we love them.
    No matter our child's talents, skills, limits, troubles, it's most important to embrace who they are; what they are--giving or artistic, for example--as opposed to what they aren't--graceful or smart with math. It can be hard to keep this perspective, but it can make such a difference.

  5. Thank you for sharing.
    It's frustrating when professionals don't get what it takes to accomplish some everyday tasks with our kids.
    I have a funny story (funny now). My hubby took my son with disabilities to get braces put on and guess who managed to take the braces off in the back seat of the car -- the ones that are supposed to be permanently glued on? And this is a kid with low tone and weak hands! :)

  6. It's not the teeth brushing. It's the 14 years of teeth brushing. It's a weariness that builds up. Rojo loves you, and he knows you love him. Period.

  7. I find myself saying "normal" way too often to the girls. And every time I hate myself for it.

  8. Love your response to the orthodontic assistant. You are a class act. Mean it.

  9. The if.
    Been there, done the dance with no braces...just simply an oral aversion. Gets old....really OLD.
    I understand.

  10. The timer suggestion always got to me, too. "Okay, thanks," I'd say, and then we'd go home, back to the dance, back to what we do. Love to both of you.