We’ve caught our little one red handed playing us off against each other. Every night she battles with her Mum when it comes to teeth brushing time and I gotta tell you she is quite tenacious for someone so small.
Teeth brushing never used to bother her that much however lately she is trying to assert her authority and if she doesn’t want to open her mouth then there really is not too much poor Mum can do about that.
And there is not a lot that Dad can do about it either as the last thing Mum needs is for me to get involved, create confusion and undermine her authority.
We have tried to reduce the opportunities for her to manipulate us by not interfering in each others jobs that way she will not think that Dad will let her do something and Mum won’t and visa versa. United we stand.
Anyhow for some reason tonight while we were both getting her ready for bed Mum says out of the blue, “OK honey now why don’t you go with Dad to brush your teeth as Mum has to go to the bathroom.” In other words, “Why don’t you give it a go Dad?”
I take her into the bathroom and we grab the toothbrush and she opens her mouth compliantly while I run the toothbrush around her little teeth. She opens wide and we do the back, front, sides and top all without a word or fuss.
As we are about to complete our brushing she hears her Mum coming back to check on our progress. I could only describe the look on her face as guilt as she quickly (but not too quickly) finished brushing, rinsed and rested her head angelically on my shoulder just as Mum arrived to see how we were going.
Mum spied the guilty little look on her face as she said “So how did we go?”
“We are pretty much done here aren’t we?” For a change our daughter has nothing to say. She just looks at her Mum and gives her a kind of fake cheesy smile.
After Mum leaves the room our daughter raises her head off my shoulder, gives me the same strange little smile and then proceeds to rinse and dry her mouth. “All done” she says.
After we had put her to bed we discussed the episode. My wife saw the same guilty look on the little mites face. There is no way that she wanted her Mum to know that she really doesn’t mind brushing her teeth at all. In fact she can be quite the little angel when she wants to be.
I guess the point is if you are having a power struggle with your toddler over a certain activity and you are fortunate enough to have some help, why not get your partner to try rather than forcing the issue yourself. A job switch could save you a lot of frustration and who knows – it might even be successful?
Nice try little one. Next time don’t be so obvious…