“You haven’t brushed your teeth in a week?” My husband stood as he asked it and I thought: This is not going to be good. My son’s eyes shifted to me then the floor. Not good.

I’d been folding the endless laundry while he watched the endless football on TV. We’d sent the kids off to brush their teeth before bed when the boy came back to announce he’d forgotten his toothbrush in the car. This was our “Whoa. What?” moment. We both snapped out of our endless listlessness at that. Mister Lazybones had left his entire suitcase in the car, toothbrush and all, since coming home from a sleepover last weekend. A week ago. Too lazy to schlep himself out to the driveway and fetch it for seven days. My husband was shocked. I wasn’t. But my instinct as a mother is always to protect them and, yes, cover for them when necessary. Intercede. So I was scrambling for some explanation to save my son from being throttled when the realization hit me that he’d been lying to me every time I asked if he’d brushed his teeth. I set the tiny underpants I’d been folding into thirds down. We spent $600 at the dentist in October. Half of that was on this boy. My husband drew himself up for confrontation as he asked “You haven’t brushed your teeth in a week?”

The eyes shifted. His sister, standing at his side, glared at him. And then I knew. I knew before the admission was made. I knew before she spat her pronouncement in triumph. I knew. And my throat hurt.

My son has been sick. It started with a headache and slight fever, then a sore throat, then turned to a wracking cough. I have no fear of the flu. It comes and goes quickly and, really, in a house with four children you’re bound to catch it eventually. I let them throw up on me and I hold them and kiss them and clean them and hold them till they do it again. Fevers and sore throats are another thing altogether. They make you grouchy and they don’t go away. Coughs linger.

For nearly a week I’ve been reminding him: Cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands. Don’t touch my plate.

And I’ve been reminding myself: Cover your mouth when he coughs. Wash your hands. Don’t eat his leftovers.

I turn my head when he hugs me. I know, I know. I hate that I do it. But I have things going on. No time to be sick. I felt sick watching my daughter eye her brother though. My husband boomed “Answer me. You haven’t brushed your teeth in A WEEK?” and I decided my son was on his own.

“I have.” I already knew.

“With what? Your finger?” No.


Spotlight on the girl.

“He’s been using Mom’s toothbrush!”




  1. Sheila said,

    November 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Been there, done that.

    You sick yet?

  2. flakyartist said,

    November 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Nope – I’ve got my fingers crossed.
    Do all boys treat their mothers this way?

  3. JGG said,

    November 24, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Yes, all boys treat their mothers this way. It is, however, infrequent that we are made aware. LOVE this entry! It is peepanstering material. Really.

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