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.